Taking the stage on day three at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity were Conan O’Brien, comedian and TV host and Shaquille O’Neal, former basketball player. The session titled ‘Jack of all trades, masters of some’ was moderated by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
O’Neal and O’Brien spoke about their philosophies when it came to each of their brands and how they looked to keep themselves relevant.
O’Neal, who has also got into the entertainment industry post retirement, described his mantra, “I’m conscious about my brand. I want to make people laugh and get rid of their worries for a few seconds, minutes or hours.”
O’Brien had a more elaborate response, “In 2010, I was thrust into the world of social media. It was a revelatory experience. I started doing things that kept me alive. Being honest is something that resonates with fans. So, when I’m making content with brands, I try making it look like it’s not an advertisement. That makes me happy, fans happy and the brand is happy. You can’t do content that hurts the fans.”
He continued, “I have a team, that’s much younger than me. They understand social media and different things I do are meant for specific social media platforms.”
This was followed by a clip of Ride Along 2.
He explained, “This has crossed 100 million views across platforms. I would’ve never got this kind of reach across any other media.”
Giving an example of a piece of work done for Taco Bell, O’Brien emphasised the importance of brands showing a sense of humour. The brand let us show me having a seizure after eating a bite of Taco Bell, which I had faked and that showed the brand as one with humour.”
Chris Cuomo then quizzed the duo about ‘viral videos’ and how virality can be achieved.
O’Neal’s response was, “Going viral is unpredictable. I can’t understand why some clips go viral. Some of them are quite random.”
O’Brien added, “I’ve never set out to make something go viral. You build it and hope the views come. If they don’t, it’s okay! Millennials are extremely sophisticated and know the moment you’re selling something to them.”
O’Brien then spoke about the time he took his show to Haiti.
“This was born out of being agile. Donald Trump had made some comments about Haiti, and three days later we were there. We didn’t want to make it too political and wanted a dialogue. Kids were appreciative too. Whenever I do a travel show, we live stream while we’re there and then do a live stream when we’re back. This wasn’t possible six or seven years ago. I’m more excited about work now than ever. Also, on my travels I show the ‘American’ with a heart. I had gone to Haiti right after Trump had made some comments about the place, and people there didn’t like an American being there. Then one person showed them a YouTube clip of me poking fun of Trump and they accepted me there.”