Monday, June 15, 2009

The Cannes Festival

In a few days the most famous Cannes Advertising festival will start. Reading this week’s trade press one can find out that the number of participants has dropped from over 10,000 to roughly 6,000, the submissions have decreased by over 20%. Most reviewers identify three main reasons for the decline of participations and submission:

  • Recession and tremendous cost pressure on any marketing department, on both the client and the agency side
  • Decline of the importance of TV which was traditionally the most exciting marketing channel for the awards review and celebration
  • The unappealing and boring nature of reviewing digital, retail, or out of home work in a 2 minutes case study.

While all of these reasons are relevant most trade journalists seem to forget two other explanations that will have a longer term impact if “Cannes” does not change:

  • There is new breed of data and planning oriented marketers who just don’t care about the Cannes festival. And they make up more and more of the marketing crowd on the service and the brand sides. They love creative work but they can consume it in the local museum or art gallery. They dream of going to the TED conference or building an iPhone application or a data visualization tool that gets them significantly more exposure and learning opportunities than schmoozing at the Gutter bar past midnight.
  • The Cannes festival remains primarily a passive consumption oriented event that looses its appeal to truly creative individuals. These species want to not just look at other work but interact with it and co-create something of value. It is interesting that every marketer talks about the consumer’s control of brands but the “Cannes Festival” brand is in very tight and strong hands of the organizer. The “Burning Man” Festival exudes exactly the opposite paradigm with ongoing success; here the creative individual observes and creates.

The Cannes Festival will continue to exist and marketers will continue to participate at it. But it might be time to fundamentally rethink its core structure and not just redesign its periphery.

14 Comments:

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Great post. Digital and data-based advertising and marketing has a hard time competing with the sexiness of story-telling in TV. The emotional nature of human experience put to music or told with humour is an instant "get". But developing truly usable and relevant marketing for the engaged consumer is what seems to be actually having a measurable and lasting effects. Thanks for your insight...

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