A session featuring Halle Berry kicked off proceedings on day four of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017. Joining her was Michael Roth, chairman and CEO, IPG and Raja Rajamannar, chief communications and marketing officer, Mastercard.
The session titled 'Tapping new media to connect win fans and their passion' kicked off with Roth saying, "The reason we are here is to find new ways for marketing and communicating. We are here for connecting brands with people. Whether it's connecting using technology or events, it's a relevant topic because of the changes we are witnessing."
With this he introduced Berry to the stage.
Berry started off by introducing Hallewood. Hallewood was an attempt the actor made in 2000 of connecting with her fans through a website. She explained, "Back then I thought was had to start connecting with fans on an one-to-one basis. The first attempt I made, was dissolved after four or five years because the idea of connecting with fans through a website got too much to handle. Then, I took a break and saw the emergence of social media. Even when that grew, I didn't jump straight back in. I kept seeing it from the outside, saw mistakes others are making and then decided to be back with Hallewood 2.0."
She added, "Now, I want to connect with my fans in a cinematic way, and use virtual reality. I am completely mad about virtual reality. We'll also have forums that really matter."
Roth then asked the actor about the role of technology in her life currently and how other celebs should embrace it.
Berry said, "My daughter is nine and all she has seen around her is technology. So every artist has to use this to connect with fans and hear what they have to say too and have a two-way conversation with them."
Roth's next query to the actor was about how she manages all her social media in a time when there are several platforms available.
The actor replied, "I have the BrainTrust (an agency) that helps me on social media. I jumped back on social media only a year ago. I did so because I didn't want to be the mom who was a dinosaur and didn't understand it. Then, when I got on I saw the possibilities. It's my voice on social media that is just editorialised by someone else."
Berry then touched upon privacy. She said, "In the beginning it was a conundrum for me. It was about how I'm having an honest conversation and shielding the two people I love the most (her children) from the media. I love them the most and that's why I look to shield them. My daughter has suffered so much that at one point she didn't want to go to school. So, in a bid to be honest and protect the children, I've just got creative with my photography."
On the topic of social media, she added, "Social media sees the real me. You won't see me rolling in bed in the morning but what my fans see is what I really do."
Storytelling is dead, story making is essential
With that, Rajamannar was brought into the conversation.
He began with apologising to the creative community attending the session and stating 'storytelling is dead'. He explained, "It's all about story making. My first boss told me, advertising is all about creating stories. And that worked well till recently. At the end of Q4 in 2016, there were 198 active ad blockers. And that number is growing rapidly. At the end of Q1 this year, it is at 225 million. Consumers are clearly saying they don't want to see ads. They're paying for services like Netflix, YouTube Red to ensure they don't see ads. So we have to understand what they want."
With this he explained what Mastercard has moved towards doing. "We are moving from priceless storytelling to priceless experiences. We have to understand what consumers want. We made consumers our storytellers and they in-turn spread the stories to their networks. There are no ad-blockers involved in their stories reaching out to their network!"
"Personalisation is most important. Experiences need methods in the madness. We have identified key areas consumers are looking at like sports, music, shopping, travel, culinary and more and look to create personal experiences here. They can be small ones which bring a smile to their face, or a big one. We have that entire spectrum that offers 6,50,000 experiences globally."
One of the examples Rajamannar explained under this was the brand's 'priceless cities' campaign.
"More than 80 per cent of all commerce happens in 60 cities worldwide. So we focussed on these and offered experiences only though Mastercard. In Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, Mastercard allows you to step in, climb the monument and take a selfie on the top. We took the permissions and made sure we're not hurting any sentiments."
The chief of marketing and communications for Mastercard then spoke about how the brand looks to secure its commercial interest among these campaigns. "We make sue we're not doing these activities just because they're not normal. We have to make them commercially viable to secure the long term interest. Else, it will just be a one-off. We are not a direct-to-consumer brand. Our customers are banks. Consumers in turn use us through merchants. So we have to partner merchants or banks and make it commercially viable. And, since the last four years when we have moved away from story telling to story making, we are growing well and driving our business."
He ended the session with three points to note for brands and celebrities.
Digital technologies are getting bigger and affordable. Marketers and celebs should use it to connect in unprecedented ways.
I'm quoting someone who stated that human attention spans have gone down to six seconds. This will only go down further. So, a smart professional will know how to leverage it.
Any part of the world has access to everything in the world. It's one sophisticated big world.