Wake up with the Economist: A review from Cannes

What a week in Cannes! Yes, there was Rosé. Yes, there was inspiring work. We even brought home a few Lions of our own. But most of all I enjoyed hearing wise words from the industry’s smartest people.

One of my favourite sessions was the daily morning session hosted by The Economist called “Wake up with the Economist”. The panel featured three different CMOs each day and was Chaired by Daniel Franklin, the Economist’s Executive Editor.

The CMOs featured in the Monday session were:

  • Atilla Cansun, CMO Merck Consumer Health
  • Jorn Socquet, Vice President of Marketing Anheuser Busch
  • Neil George, Vice President, Emerging Markets, Beiersdorf.

Here are five key learnings I took away from the discussion:

  1. Creative ideas can come from anywhere. Listen to the people who spend time with your business: your staff, especially the young ones who bring in fresh eyes, consumers themselves, your suppliers and your retailers.
  1. Consumers of the future want to buy from brands with values. Consumers of today are interested in brand purpose and respond to more emotive, human, right brain messaging. We need to move away from purely rational left brain ‘efficacy’ messaging and evoke an emotional response.
  1. Taking no risk is the risk itself. As an industry we need to be braver: CMOs don’t take enough risks – and their agencies need to push them to do so. We don’t want to have difficult conversations with our boss. Our job is to do what is right, not what is easy.
  1. Unlock the untapped value of social media: Budweiser uses social media to apologise when something goes wrong. Nivea uses it to test ideas early on with their core fans. Realise social media is not just another channel, it’s a rare chance to interact with your brand advocates.
  1. Microsegments will be the audience targeting challenge of the future. 2017 and beyond will show a long tail of extreme micro-segments. How do you deliver personalised messaging to extreme micro targets? This will be our challenge in the near future.

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