Russell Parsons: Cannes is a celebration of great creativity and insight

Among the many fantastic campaigns garlanded at Cannes Lions last week, two stood out: the ‘Like A Girl’ campaign for Procter & Gamble’s Always brand and Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’.

Russell Parsons

Both carry a societal message – the former addresses the drop in confidence that many girls experience when they reach puberty, while the latter challenges the physiological obstacles that many women feel stop them from exercising.

Neither are just ‘purpose’ campaigns – big ideas that win prizes but have little quantifiable effect. They have had an impact on sales and participation respectively.

Other issues that loomed large at Cannes were what are often seen as the anti-creative. Data, programmatic trading and the other tools available to the 21st century marketer were discussed, promoted and showcased as much as anything else.

In addition to creative excellence, insight also binds ‘Like A Girl’ and ‘This Girl Can’ together. Both were deep-rooted in simple truths unearthed through data – captured, extracted and interpreted. Talking to Marketing Week after winning the Glass Lion for Change award, Sport England’s CEO Jennie Price spoke about the “stacks” of research on why women did and didn’t like sport that underpinned the campaign. That data was turned into the insight that eventually became the core pillar of the campaign – “fear of judgement”.

Speaking with me earlier in the week, P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard claimed that we are on the precipice of a “golden age of marketing”. Essentially, he meant that when brand building is combined with technology, innovation and data the possibility to achieve “brand promise” is greater than ever.

Data and technology have provided the opportunity to contextualise, personalise and reach people in ways that were unimaginable just a few short years ago. When allied with the creative excellence of the standard produced for P&G and Sport England, the opportunities to produce what Pritchard described as “spine tingling” creative that has massive impact are unprecedented.

Cannes Lion is an unashamed celebration of creativity. It is also testament to the data and technology that is driving that creative harder.

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