Opinion: Cannes Lions proves brands need to take risks

Opinion: Cannes Lions proves brands need to take risks

Lauren Winter, head of brand and consumer marketing, EMEA, at FleishmanHillard Fishburn, details why the importance of brands taking risks was her big Cannes Lions takeaway.


If last year was the year of AI, then the theme of Cannes this year was the year of NI: Not Interested.

As I paced between panels and talks it became very clear that we’ve all out-talked each other. Marketing speak to marketing people means very little in the eye of the Croisette storm and, faced with one’s peers, advice on how to get your views up on a piece of ‘content’ really didn’t cut the mustard this year.

Explaining why, not how


There seemed to be a cynicism when people started to tell the audience “how”, the people who really won were those who asked “why”.

When IKEA creators explained what they thought about what mums really needed in a high chair was not for kids to eat, but to be able to make a mess with no added stress for them – this intel didn’t come from a spreadsheet – it came from real people, and the winners this year spoke from the heart.

Take the Skyn condom session. They didn’t talk about sex, they talked about being a relationship brand – the first for women. They argued why we don’t need sex education, rather, tutoring on how to have relationships from a young age. The brand talked openly about where we are today and with meaning – meaning that will move the bottom line, no doubt.

Brands need to take risks


Talking of protection, there was a lot of talk about looking after one’s self and one’s brand. Well, as critical as our audience at Cannes was, so are the wider public. When discussing the dirty value of influencers, value and risk are inextricably linked. With great value comes great risk.

What people need to ask themselves is who, why and what they are taking that risk for. As I once heard our very own CEO say: “If you’re going to jump across the river you don’t take two steps.”

Well it’s the same for making an impact. It was only when Skittles dared to spend all of their prime time dollars on an advert that would only be shown to one kid,  that they realised the true power of taking a risk. It was only when KFC took a leap of faith and followed the human wave of FCK, did they truly win. On and off the stage.

In the main, purpose-led campaigns continued to rule. In the current climate though, how long can the creative world flit between ROI and true good for goods sake?!?

It’s time brands trusted their gut, made the world better because they can, and realise at the end of the day, it’s all a risky business.

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