Very often marketers get swayed by this belief and forget that they are in the business of promoting their brand and business – and not the celebrity’s brand. Therefore having a celebrity is only the beginning. How you use him is the critical question. The aim should be to use him in a manner relevant to your brand, so that you can create longing empathy with your consumers. As against just having your consumer remember the celebrity and forget the brand.
The reason I am revisiting this advertising tenet is yesterday’s session with Ben Stiller, courtesy Yahoo. I was not surprised to hear delegates mention through the day ‘what could have been’, as against the ‘what was’.
In sharp contrast, today’s Facebook seminar was an example of how a celebrity can actually help build the brand he ‘endorses’ in a relevant manner. The session with the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was a sell-out. As we were informed in the evening, this session drew the biggest audience in the history of Cannes – a huge auditorium aired a live telecast for those who could not get a seat at the Debussy. And the session’s delivery not only lived up to the expectations, but far surpassed them.
As Mark walked on stage, his celebrity status was apparent from the adulation among the audience. This 26 year old genius looks like a ‘kid’ and does not wear his success on his sleeve. He was dressed as unassumingly as his demeanor. A t-shirt, jeans and keds, with headphones around his neck.
The interviewer’s opening question seemed to voice what was in the minds of every member of the audience, “Mark, what do you want to do when you grow up?” From there onwards, Mark had the audience eat out of his hands, with his seeming innocence and honesty. One was amazed with his maturity at handling questions and responding with the panache of a master.
He attributed his success to the fact that he belonged to a generation that grew with computers in their homes and lives. In this fast changing world, he shared his commitment to designing products around people - making them personal. And to keep pace with the fast evolving audiences, he confessed to realizing that Facebook could never build all the applications in- house. So, he believes he has built a platform – for the consumers to take forward and evolve, with the help of a million developers!
On being asked about privacy controls, he admitted to having grown from zero to 500 million users in six years. And therefore, he is learning every day, as Facebook evolves. Being private used to be good. But now, he believes, the consumer wants to share, while being in control.
The articulate speaker that he is, Mark took all the questions, one by one, and the audience couldn’t have enough of him…On being asked whether he will soon induct an official CEO to run the business while he will be content as a founder owner, he emphasized that today, companies are not just about business. Business is all about building winning products. And that’s what he continues to do and enjoy….In business, he felt the need was to always take a long term perspective, while making decisions or acting in and for the short term….When asked if he saw Facebook as a media company, he shared his belief that his was more of a technology company, in the business of media…He observed a visible trend around the world, where mobile ownership was outstripping web users. And he saw this as another opportunity for innovation.
Here was a celebrity who lent such credibility to the brand he represents, while adding immensely to his brand equity too. Not surprising then, that he was named the ‘media person of the year’, later in the evening.
Earlier in the day we had Kraft Foods present a conversation with Spike Jonze, the Lion winning filmmaker who has directed numerous award-winning music videos, commercials, short films and documentaries.
This soft-spoken celebrity spoke about only accepting projects that excite him. He spoke of the need to be able to say ‘no’, to work that does not inspire you. He encouraged the audience to trust their own guts. And to focus on the power of communicating and connecting, rather than to look at their work as mere creation of ads.
During the day we all became aware that a presentation by Coke is round the corner – cause there were coke cans being offered gratis to all the delegates during the day. We had the Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer of the Coca-Cola company share the story of the global Coca-cola FIFA World Cup 2010 campaign that ran across 160 countries.
The football fever is definitely in the air, at Cannes, What with frequent mentions at the festival, people wearing the t-shirts of the team they support and all the restaurants and pubs being packed with fans watching the live telecast over a drink with friends.
The evening saw the announcement of the Lions for the Design, Press and Cyber categories. In the Design category India picked a bronze, thanks to Ogilvy, Gurgaon and a Gold, thanks to Publicis, Mumbai. In the Press category Bates and Mudra picked a bronze each, while Taproot received a Silver. A Gold came the way of RMG Gurgaon and Taproot. Aggie and Paddy went up on stage to receive their Lion, proudly displaying the Indian flag.
In the Cyber category I have a feeling that we won a Bronze, but can’t vouch for it – cause the very minute the list of Bronze winners came up on the screen for a second, Mark Zuckerberg passed by, from close – and obviously many like I got distracted.
In the night, all roads led to the India party, hosted by our very own Dr. Bhaskar Das. It was a treat to eat good, sumptuous Indian food after so (4 days) long. The entire Indian contingent was there, as one family. Got a chance to meet Abhijeet Awasthi, Rajiv Rao, Nakul Chopra, Jagdeep Bakshi and Prasoon Joshi. And many more…
Left them early, just as the crowd started speaking about the Gutter Bar. I had to come back to my computer. …. Tomorrow (or should I say, today) is another day.