Arrived in Cannes early in the morning on Friday, June 17 both apprehensive and excited about the festival that I’ve heard so much about. Since this was a last minute trip, all the hotels were sold out and we had rented an apartment. Much to our relief the apartment was a good size, well furnished and centrally located. Phew! Spent the rest of Friday and Saturday getting to know the town. It really is a quaint place – cobbled streets, little cafes, beautiful beaches, many holidaying European families, luxury hotels, seafront restaurants, bars, designer shops and of course the Palais where the Cannes Lions is being held.
Today, Sunday, is the first day of the festival. Being the geek that I am, I couldn’t wait to get started. One of the best seminars that I attended today was called ‘The Long Idea’. The speakers were Jimmy Maymann, Executive Chairman of Goviral and Martin Lindstrom, Brand Expert and Author. The theme that ran through the seminar was that brands need to keep conversations alive, especially via Social Media, leading to long term branding. The only way to achieve this type of branding is through the quality of a brand’s storytelling and the quality of the consumer’s experience.
Martin, one of the speakers had conducted a neuroscience experiment to establish whether there was any connection between great religions and great brands. He found that the most powerful religious feelings and the most powerful feeling for brands generate activity in the same region of the brain.
Great religions as well as great brands are built on ten pillars – grandeur, vision, a powerful enemy, storytelling, mystery, symbolism, rituals, appeal to the senses, sense of belonging and evangelism. Apple is a the perfect example as it covers all ten pillars (yes, even rituals – fingers working on the Ipad, the Iphone, the mouse).
Another study recently conducted by Martin placed a family in a community. The family discussed branded objects with their neighbours casually. These brands that were discussed in casual conversation caused the neighbours to go online and interact with the brand. Seeding offline is as important as incubation and adoption. Offline brand activity should start 3-9 months prior to the actual online activity to make the online activity more effective.
To get 100 people to adopt the brand, Jimmy discussed the 1:9:90 principal where 1 person sets up the content, 9 people are chosen to evangelize it and that’s how the remaining 90 people start interacting with the brand.
The key is to understand consumers and create the kind of content that they would choose to interact with. In a world where attention spans are limited, where everything is on-demand and consumers are empowered, creatives and brands have an increasingly challenging task ahead of them.
Digital brand activity in India is still nascent. My guess is that this will change over the coming years…in the meanwhile, we need to prepare ourselves for a different kind of story telling to a more savvy audience. Budgets for youtube ads will rival those for TVCs. Young minds out of nowhere will be much in demand. Huge opportunities will open up and when they do, we will need to be prepared.
Au revoir and more tomorrow…