How Cannes Lions can shine a light on the importance of wellbeing in the marketing & advertising industry
Dear Cannes Lions Team
I wrote this to you last summer after the first on-line Cannes. Now as you debate what to do this year, I just wanted to to remind you of the need to think about how the new client/agency model can evolve to treat everyone as humans. Using tech, data, process & behaviour as well as a focus on creativity to drive growth and innovation back into our industry....
Well done Cannes Lions Live , I admire how you have celebrated the great creativity from our industry, live and online, and particularly in shining a light on the commercial value that great creativity drives. There has been a veritable smorgasbord of stars, industry veterans, creatives and provocateurs during the week, all free for us to be inspired and delighted by. Thank you.
However I had expected to hear more about sharing and celebrating HOW we have looked after our people at this time and then how we now need to invest in their resilience and wellbeing post lockdown.
Professor Scott Galloway in No mercy No Malice in partnership with Vice TV gave an energetic and compelling session, outlining the huge change needed in the industry. With the continued growth of the 'four horseman', he rather gloomily predicted that in the States, "1 in 5 media companies/agencies will be out of business in the next 12-24 months," so we need to act fast.
In the UK the story will be, I expect similar. Influencer Marketing Hub , a brand close to my heart at Xeim, suggests that 69% of brands expect they will decrease ad spend in 2020. WPP have detailed plans to save up to £800 million this year to weather the pandemic and agencies large and small are making redundancies. Despite the over optimistic nature of the advertising industry moguls, the winds will blow cold. As Bozoma Saint John, stated "My KPI's success is still being alive, success is still having a business at the end of this thing." Those left will need to be loved, cherished, focussed and inspired to make it through.
That said, I love how you have managed online to showcase how we, as an industry, have utilised creativity to survive so far, during this most difficult time. To share the brilliant client/ agency partnerships we are seeing at the moment, to demonstrate the importance of trust and collaboration to deliver something great. Congratulations to the James Hurman and Peter Field in partnership with WARC and the IPA on their presentation Cracking the Effectiveness Code you have shown us how to truly link creative to effectiveness and bring clients and agencies together to shine a light on this in the future.
I loved the session by the brilliant, Josy Paul in his speech What I've Learnt , he said, "Sometimes you don't need a PowerPoint to make a point, you just need to make a point". Cannes Lions team, you have made a point and shown that you can make Cannes Lions accessible to everyone. Awesome !
I miss being physically in Cannes, not just because it's my chance to drink rosé with some of my friends, and meet old and new colleagues, but because now is the time to have tough conversations and they are really easier face to face. (Even with social distancing). You have started the moment where WE have to reset the industry ….and you at Cannes Lions 2021 can follow us, once we get our act together, to report back. Richard Curtis reminded us of the Global Goals launched in 2015 and urged us all to go beyond purpose and make actionable change. Note goal 3, right after no poverty and zero hunger is Good Health and well-being.
There has been some excellent debate about how we make the industry more inclusive. I loved the session with Alex Bennett-Grant (We are Pi) where he pointed out the painful reality of discrimination in production shoots and gave us tangible ways to promote a more inclusive society and the interview with Bozoma Saint John, particularly her point when she said, “I am shocked by our reaction to BLM as a business community.... I have never seen this broad action before... but now the whole world is screaming for this change” and the industry is wanting to take action."
By the way Cannes Lions team, in your top 9 rated on demand videos you headline only one woman, and have one as a presenter and one as an interviewer... As these are your most high profile, watched session, I think there is room for improvement!
I believe that we need to focus on how, pre June 2021, we can continue to grow our acceptance of people being different, I like the phrase not different from me but different like me. How we leverage this somewhat current forced behaviour, to become more of the norm and accelerate the wellbeing of our people, the diversity, inclusion and neuro-diversity in our industry as a means to create greater creativity and innovation and a new cultural norm. As Rei Inamoto suggested pivot from a USP to a POV, a point of view that stands for something real and authentic.
I hope by next year we will see how these actions have really changed our working culture, to make the industry a better place for all our people to work.
We have witnessed 2 interesting human behaviours growing out of this crisis. Firstly, a much greater degree of kindness and acceptance. Kindness to those struggling, whatever that struggle may be. Acceptance that things are different, we are powerless to change them and so need to accept and work with them. We have found that working from home and flexible hours can be not only convenient, but really effective and that a ‘Teams’ or ‘zoom’ call may have a child or a dog wander into the background, but the conversation can still carry on. Pitches can be run and great creative shown and even the chemistry of teams can be demonstrated remotely.
Secondly, the wellbeing and resilience of people. The Friday afternoon drinks trolley has over the past few months been replaced by daily check ins on how people are really feeling. Suddenly it is common place to talk about our wellbeing at work and more importantly, it’s OK…for it not to be OK and to put support in place to manage this. At my company Let's Reset we have run workshops for thousands of people during the pandemic and I have been heartened to hear people working for agencies and brands say that, perhaps for the first time their wellbeing has been really thought about.
Peter Markey CMO, TSB in an interview with me for let's reset said "We have tried to make our daily calls not just transactional, but check in with one another, we ask how is the work progressing but more importantly, how are we doing, how are we feeling"
We are striving to shift our industry’s image to attract young talent and for a career in marketing and advertising to be seen as truly aspirational again for all nationalities and backgrounds. We know that the next generation workforce place their wellbeing as a priority, when looking at their working future. The excuse that 'we would change but clients won't let us' needs to be replaced with we have worked together to create an environment where both client and agency feel that they can trust, collaborate and share in the commercial return. People should be celebrated for the way that they speak out about bad practices, not told to be quiet and enjoy the free drinks. When we return to our offices, at some stage before the next Cannes, we need to look at HOW we create a culture shift centred around our people’s resilience and wellbeing and connect this with the commercial delivery of our businesses.
Michael Frohlich CEO Ogilvy Group UK told me at an Oystercatchers Live event "The expectations have changed.... as the world normalises... we will have to do speed as well as less fast work... we are preparing the way of the office to be used completely differently. A place where people can meet, collaborate and be inspired."
Perhaps the opportunity is not just to get back to Cannes Lions in France next year, but to reset our industry and not just celebrate the creative output, but also to showcase brilliant examples of resetting our industry culture, treating people as humans and HOW our people have worked to produce world class creativity that grows the balance sheet.
Many thanks again, See you in Cannes in 2021