Cannes 2016: Reinventing Agencies Lead the Way

Author: Alex Papanastassiou

Insights by Andrew Berglund (@_AndrewInc)
Executive Creative Director at Emakina


Silicon Value

This year’s theme appeared to be about agencies reinventing themselves.
It’s about redefining their offer and in fact underlining their need to be agile, and not rooted in one solution suffering from “the Madison Avenue syndrome”. Instead the trend is more towards “Silicon Value”, act like a start up and explore the true possibilities of thinking different/ thinking new possibilities.

Agile Innovators

A whole range of agency and client side cases and stories demonstrated that “ad agencies” (and those deemed “digital” agencies) need to evolve and move to become agile innovators not owning one media solution…
And this is a necessity to attract new young talent as well as to signal to clients the new possibilities of technology …


Samsung’s Blind Cap blurred the lines between product and marketing innovation, showed the agency working with the client from product concept to technical infrastructure, to marketing strategy and the product ecosystem.

Samsung also announced their full dedication to VR and in developing content in branded entertainment territories and owning the VR platform and content development (as Sony did/does with Movies + Games)


DOT: The Braille Watch also showed a total concept from product design to technical infrastructure to marketing and communications strategy and the product ecosystem.

One agency presented a concept that wasn’t “digital”, but showcased innovation through consumers facing fmcg products in the form of candy bars made from cricket flour (yes real crickets!) – from product conception through to ecosystem for the brand and product to exist in the market place – developing an agile business unit within the agency to find consumer friendly product solutions and sustainable resources to make earth friendly products.


This agency even created a mobility vehicle with Toyota that addressed the parking problems plaguing young urbanites in 21C Tokyo. They developed a total concept, built a proto-type (launched a real version) and developed an ecosystem and social sharing network for the parking areas in major urban metropolitan neighbourhoods.


 Hakuhodo presented its robots with social skills and cyborg fruits! Quite a range of concepts, to underline their desire to evolve and adapt from being just an “ad agency” to becoming the core business unit to develop new ways to engage the consumer with innovate product and brand experiences

Several speakers talked about the importance of harnessing the power of data mining and exploiting data for positive consumer engagement. Personalization of data bots assigned to individuals to take over menial tasks such as banking and social / community information.


One presentation showed how an agency reinvents itself every nine years from 1977 to today… with innovation at its core so not to become static and obsolete. A recent example documented how a social media campaign for Beats by Dre “Straight Outta” had a smaller budget but created more impact for the brand / product preference, when compared to another case the agency did (for Nike) with a very high quality film production that didn’t resonate as well as their social media concepts

Renault pretty much presented their cars as smart wearables. Integrating the smartphone ecosystem seamlessly into the automotive environment and developing solutions that facilitate the drivers seamless integration to the car (and serving environment) social ecosystem – with products and services with a huge dose of CRM woven into the relationship they will build with the consumer via Internet and online connected solutions.

The strangest offering at Cannes

The strangest offering by far was one of the most innovative territories of interconnected bodies via augmented experiences and body mapping behaviors. It showcased how one person could control the movements of another person! Going into territories of human biomechanical technology and even going as far as suggesting their solution as “implantables” as an alternative to “wearables”. Brand experiences you implant into the human!


@Shingy rules!

And introducing David Shing “Shingy” (@Shingy) who had by far the slickest presentation I have ever seen in my 22 years career.

Shingy is AOLs funky-ass digital trends guru! A genius with his knowledge of what’s coming next in the world and what is happening with the world with regards to those born into the world as digital natives – changing the way we live…this could create a parallel society where non-native digital citizens will sit on the peripheral of progressive societies.


Facebook, Google and YouTube?

They were present just as sideline media amusements with free beach bars, but didn’t really use the chance to showcase their “innovation”, which was a missed opportunity – considering the power of their brand and product equity.

Cannes Innovation is a great chance to explore
for the future of the industry. It can only grow.

As Shingy stated: “Raise your hands if you’re a creative? Congratulations! You’re here where the future is, while those over on the other traditional side of Cannes Lions are part of the past!”

(Forget) Awards

Forget the “brand campaigns” that won huge accolades at Cannes, again. This year for me the biggest examples of creating brand relevance was Blind Cap and Braille Watch with products and services that gave the power to change and improve the lives of people. Think new possibilities.

And just alone for such an innovative use of data visualization was the Titanium Cannes Lions that went to ING’s ‘New Rembrandt’. Whilst the connection to ING wasn’t so immediately obvious, it underlined INGs ability to innovate consumer data and create new experiences.


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