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Cannes POV: Digital Ascends, But Paid Media Is Its Sherpa

Is the industry finally opening up? Are the borders and boundaries merging? Witness the agenda that has Grey following Victors & Spoils, and Ogilvy sandwiched between Mofilm and Google.

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This week marks the start of a new Cannes conference, a celebration
of the very best of the worlds of commercial creativity. As always, it’s
wonderful seeing and hearing people from Buenos Aires, Bangalore and
Beijing all coming together with same plan — to witness the best work
and stretch their minds.

Clearly times are changing; there’s a much stronger digital presence
than ever before, with what seems like half of each day being allotted
to speakers that even two years ago would have been considered side
shows to creativity.

Of course you expect Google and YouTube to have more than a passing
interest in the 9,000 or so people attending. (And an interesting
insight into Google and Facebook is that Eric Schmidt’s hotly awaited presentation
is based on crowdsourced questions versus Zuckerberg’s ‘closed’ and
scripted approach last year.) So is the industry finally opening up? Are
the borders and boundaries merging? Witness the agenda that has Grey
following Victors & Spoils, and Ogilvy sandwiched between Mofilm and
Google.

The answer has to be yes of course, however it interests me that a lot
of the clients, ad and media agencies and media owners still depend so
heavily on paid media to sustain their business models.

The one thing we learned researching our session during Cannes on
community crowdsourcing and co-creation is that the best ‘creative
ideas’ in the world have their own energy, their own means of
distribution, and their own collaborators that propel them into a strata
that conventional paid communications can never reach.

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Take Footlocker’s 6.7 m fans from a beta community site, Sneakerpedia.
Take the new Fiat Mio, a car created by those most passionate about the
product —  the users. Take Sony, changing the way they build and
utilize their technology to sustain the planet by engaging thousands of
activists; Lego’s millions of fans and hundreds of thousands of YouTube
videos; Nokia’s new platform for snowboarding …..I could go on.

My point is, for all of these great ideas, genuine involvement and
collaboration came via what we call co-operative engagement design,
where paid media was either non existent or a mere prop to a much more
meaningful relationship.

So where does that leave the attendees at Cannes who are so beholden to
the paid advertising-led model? Is this the year we finally accept that
this world really plays, at best, second fiddle to the new world we now
live in? Will the big ad-centered businesses that this year at Cannes
are the meat sandwiched between our technological cousins drift away,
becoming the bit of lettuce or garnish that trims the outside of our
Cannes plates moving forwards?

Jon Wilkins (pictured above) is co-founder of media agency, Naked Communications.

[Image: Flickr user crsan – christianholmer.com]

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