Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. It was my first time at the festival, and as someone three months into the job, it was an eye-opening experience into where my career could take me and how it could make me think. Beyond the drinks, sun, and food, it was a genuinely thought-provoking trip, and I hadn’t expected the festival to leave as lasting an impression as it did.
As a newcomer scouring the schedule, it struck me how few PR-focused talks were on offer. The basement that celebrates “The Work”, current and past award-winning campaigns, was littered with successful PR campaigns of previous years. Yet, talks were primarily centred on marketing and advertising. It’s understandable, marketing and advertising done well are inherently visual, captivating, and compelling. The LionHeart Seminar, for example, was given by Patagonia’s Marketing Director Tyler LaMotte, it took us on a harrowing whistle-stop tour around our beautiful, yet sadly deteriorating globe.
I am sure many in our industry would argue that PR plays an equally significant role in shaping brand perception and fostering meaningful connections. So, could there be a benefit to exposing more of the festival attendees, and by proxy, the wider industry to the power of PR? Patagonia’s recent decision to nominate ‘Earth as Our Only Shareholder’ was a monumental PR move. It was a simple and bold business decision, backed up by a solid PR campaign, that fostered trust and further cultivated its reputation. It also illustrated the importance of a strong, well positioned brand to back up any PR activity. One of the reasons why we specialise in both brand building and communications- when the two are seamlessly integrated they are at their most impactful.
This is not to discredit the work of Patagonia’s marketing team, it’s clear they’ve done a fantastic job. However, it would have been good to see more of a spotlight shone on integrated marketing campaigns that celebrate the marriage of PR and advertising in shaping public opinion and long-term brand success.
PR can sometimes be unfairly attributed as less creative than its older, bigger brothers, advertising, and marketing. PR teams work with smaller budgets, where they must innovate to find ways to amplify messages and generate impactful results. You cannot rely only on capital to grant access to prime-time spots, instead, it is an ideas-driven game, immersing yourself in the news and trying to craft a story to resonate with journalists and readers. PR professionals have an abundance of ideas and skills, and I would have liked to have seen a few talks delving deeper into how the best and brightest in our industry execute their campaigns.
“PR can sometimes be unfairly attributed as less creative than its older, bigger brothers, advertising, and marketing. PR teams work with smaller budgets, where they must innovate to find ways to amplify messages and generate impactful results.”
As a ‘Young Lion’ I was also surprised by how few junior executives were there. Of course, passes to the festival aren’t cheap, and logistics and budgets serve as a large hurdle for many. But, for those firms that can, should they not be investing in the creativity and potential of their youngest and brightest rather than their established senior management?
My favourite talk of the week was from IPSOS’ Ben Page, Lindsay Franke, and BBDO India’s Josy Paul. Titled ‘How to Surf the Polycrisis’, speaks to this point well. The panel detailed the difficulty in managing the trade-off between short-term gains and long-term creative vision, and the risks of neglecting your future by disproportionately focusing on the former. Investing in junior staff allows firms to develop creativity from the start, and build on it throughout their career, without harming short-term success. This was driven by the view that context is king. In a world defined by economic crisis, ever-increasing geopolitical tensions, and climate change, uncertainty is the only certainty.
Today, more so than ever, the industry needs creativity to stem from those with their finger on the pulse of the current zeitgeist, and an understanding of what could come next. Consumers are increasingly aware of the turbulence of our world and want brands to recognise this. By failing to properly usher in the next generation of creative communicators, the industry will deny itself longevity.
To conclude, yes, in a large theatre, with a big screen and booming speakers, PR may be slightly less suited than an advertising presentation – akin to the display put on by brands such as Patagonia, Apple, and The North Face. However, the importance of PR to brands and consumers must not be understated and the balance could be redressed at Cannes. PR is fundamental to fostering trust and brand reputation and with purpose-driven campaigns currently at their height, these aspects of communication are vital. It would be great to see more of these campaigns championed at Cannes, showcasing the PR-advertising synergy that is crucial for long-term success.
Equally in the pursuit of longevity, we need to see more ‘Young Lions’ roaming the festival, with companies investing in their creativity from the offset. Let’s develop and nurture talent instead of celebrating the already established to ensure the Cannes Lions remains a breeding ground for innovative ideas and creativity.
Article by: admin