Virtually Nothing is Impossible at Cannes

It’s early in the week at Cannes, and the unusual quiet has given me time to take in the sights and activities before the true madness begins.

In a Festival with 15,000 attendees from hundreds of organizations attending countless sessions, the pressure to stand out mimics the real challenges we face every day: it’s a crowded marketplace. So how do marketers market to other marketers? The answer is the same as the old joke, “How do porcupines have sex?” Very carefully.

As I experienced the quiet in the Palais, I quickly realized that things were breaking through all around me. Here are three…

The Poster Race
Agencies and organizations have many channels available to them, but none as competitive as poster placement around the Palais, the convention center where the Lions are held. Wall space is at a premium and visuals for every type of session are continuously posted and reposted throughout, all in an effort to gain attention and draw a crowd to their session.

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Here’s a great example from “The Case for Unconditional Love” hosted by Johnson & Johnson with BBDO Worldwide. The poster is designed with removable sticky notes – each with a statistic about love – in the shape of a heart. The details of the poster are revealed as visitors pull off the notes one by one.

Polar Opposites
Have you ever seen a jaded ad creative director melt into a gooey puddle? I have, and I felt the same as a “real-life” 8-foot polar bear took to the stage and hallways of the Palais. Of course this was just promotion by London-based agency Taylor Herring. The polar bear, controlled by puppeteers from the West End Musical War Horse, was created for a campaign for British TV channel Sky Atlantic. But though we all intellectually knew the bear was being controlled by a human, it was a strangely emotional symbol of the real animals’ plight – also controlled by humans contributing to global warming.

It Was All in My Head
From a virtually real polar bear, to virtual reality (VR), VR is bound to be the darling of this year’s Festival (click to tweet). Myriad displays, sessions and demonstrations have captured the vr tera 20160619_113633_resizedimaginations of participants here – including mine. The VR headsets had me surfing a deadly wave, taking thrilling ski jumps, hugging the curves of a rollercoaster and trying to watch my back as a creepy character lurked “behind” me. My previous knowledge of VR was limited to what I’d read and a few Google Cardboard demonstrations. However, the immersive experience of onsite demonstrations had my mind running wild. Though VR is not new to the scene, I expect to see a big spike in creative featuring the technology.

Whatever the rest of the week holds, it’s already set up to be an overwhelming experience full of the unexpected. As marketers continue to search for new ways to thrill consumers online, through VR and IRL (in real life), we’re taking our turn first – looking for inspiration in the real world of Cannes and beyond.

You can follow along and join the conversation on our #KetchumCannes social hub.

Tera Miller, Partner, Executive Creative Director North America

As one of the agency’s preeminent creative leaders worldwide, Tera works with Ketchum account teams and integrated agency partners to develop breakthrough, insights-based ideas for clients. Along the way, she facilitates brainstorms, conducts training and inspiration sessions, and coaches and encourages her coworkers. Tera, like the legendary American brother-sister duo Donny & Marie Osmond, is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll – splitting her time between the City of Chicago and the quiet of the country.