Arati Rao
Jun 20, 2011

Arati’s Blog: Is your brand a religion?

That and other highlights from Day One of Cannes Lions 2011

Arati’s Blog: Is your brand a religion?

First off: If I had a hat, I’d wear it. Later I would doff it to the organisers for the fact that the first session on Day One started on time at 10.30. Other sessions were on schedule, too. 

At the goviral session, brand expert and author Martin Lindstrom compared brands to religions. He argued, like religion, good brands embody vision, storytelling, power, mystery, grandeur, symbols, sensory experiences, rituals, belonging and evangelism. This is true he said, for brands like Apple which would get a tick mark for all of the above, if you think about it. (Indeed, the magnitude of followers the brand has is astonishing when one considers the sheer number of iPads and iPhones spotted on audience members. None of that struggling with unwieldy notepads and disappearing pens like yours truly to make jottings). The other interesting point, Lindstrom made was about the necessity to seed a campaign offline much before it goes online. A research he did for his book ‘Brandwatching’ showed that after respondents heard about a brand during a conversation, their online attention about the brand increased by 49%.
Jimmy Maymann, executive chairman, goviral, talked about Nike and how the brand has dropped its TV budget by 55% over the last 10 years. Instead the sportswear and equipment company invested in over 30 national teams, over 200 club teams, over 500 athletes, and 10,000 pieces of content, six hubs and one academy.  Now, the brand follows an ‘always on approach’ to keep the buzz around it alive for a year, rather than just for a TV spot. According to Maymann, this has helped Nike double the number of online shares that rival Adidas had during the Soccer World Cup in 2010, in spite of the latter being the official sponsor. Such is the power of the long sustainable idea.
The next session I attended was by imc2. A short humorous clip talked about how the Venn Diagram we were taught in school. Perhaps some of us thought, we were done with, but the diagram has a new purpose: the intersection area becomes the shared values or beliefs between brands and consumers.  Since Nick Jonas (of Jonas Brothers) was on the panel, it must have been the most photographed session of the day.
Author (and session moderator) Bob Garfield said the three pillars of marketing were: CRM, to work and play well with others, and work on shared tastes.
Ian Wolfman, co-founder, principal CMO, imc2 spoke of a success story the agency has had with P&G’s secret deodorants. By leading with ‘Why the brand exists’ which is that it believes in empowering women with fearlessness, the brand was able to create its own cause: to make Women’s Ski Jumping an Olympic event in 2014. He emphasised that brands were no longer sustainable unless they stood for something today.
The last session of the day was by Naked Communications, Lego and Nokia, who highlighted the power of the three Cs of creativity: crowd-sourcing, co-creation and community. While Naked’s founding partner Jon Wilkins talked about Footlocker and Sony’s Open Planet as examples of how good ideas would no longer be created in research or through the traditional method; Lego’s Casper Willer spoke of how the brand is using crowd-sourcing (Lego Mindstorms and Lego Design By Me), and co-creation (Lego architecture, Lego Jewellery by Lisa Taylor and Lego Cuusoo). Nokia’s Stuart Wells played a couple of videos on ‘Push Snowboarding’, Nokia’s initiative  in collaboration with Burton snowboards, which was another collaborative effort with the consumer (here’s the link to the website if you want to know more: Pushsnowboarding).
India spotting (and an iota of name dropping): Bates141’s Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar and Dheeraj Sinha made it to quite a few of the sessions. I quickly asked Contract’s Ravi Deshpande what he thought of the couple of sessions he’d attended; he wasn’t very impressed at that point. I waved hello to JWT’s Colvyn Harris; and met the McCann India contingent which included Akshay Kapnadak, Rahul Mathew, Anil Thomas and Jayanarayanan Kakkara. Also bumped into Aditya Birla Group’s Ajay Kakar outside the venue (he’ll be blogging for Campaign India, so we can all look forward to that).
Cannes experience: The Quiche Lorraine at the snack bar around the corner from the Palais was delicious, and the guy at the counter showed some quick marketing skills as well by warning me about the ham in it. Stereotyping? Perhaps? But for putting the customer’s preferences above the risk of offending her, full points.


Campaign India