Cannes Day Four: The Speed of Culture

It’s the penultimate day here at Cannes, and when I look around I can see the weariness is starting to kick in for many people. There are so many options of how to spend your time in Cannes: do you party non-stop? Do you nerd out and watch as much content as possible? Do you mix it up and do a bit of both?  Regardless of what your agenda is, day 4 of any conference is where you start to feel tired, and maybe a little homesick.   Not me though, I’m raring to go! Two more days of learning, sunshine and chat – it’s my mecca.

It’s this attitude to being able to last the distance and pivot on a dime which has been the core at most conversations here this week (do you like what I did there?). Whether discussing the impact of blockchain, artificial intelligence, creative transformation or brand growth, the one theme that looms larger than all others is the speed of culture.  This ability to use data to find a way to have a current events based conversation with consumers and customers is the subject of much of the work we’ve seen and the challenge marketers are facing.  Earlier this week Adobe made the call that “all companies will become technology companies”, something which KFC China already consider themselves.  Sure they may be selling other non-tech related products, but at their heart they are building internal infrastructure and distribution mechanisms to provide the customer with a memorable experience beyond the product itself.  It’s understanding what customers and consumers actually want, which is changing rapidly, which is what keeps many CMO’s and advertising executives up late into the night.

This morning we were fortunate enough to hear a seminar from Black Swan and PepsiCo who pulled back the curtain on their 360Always On product. A tool built through collaboration between the two companies, which monitors social listening, google trends data and research to predict what consumers will think, feel and most importantly want in 6 months time.  With alarming clarity, they have predicted the adoption of a number of key niche trends months in advance, one example being activated charcoal.  Analysing over 54 million pieces of social data per day, in combination with AI, this tool looks to understand patterns and context, not just key word volumes.  Overlaying this with further bespoke research (or what they call Human Sense Making), develops key cultural insights critical for product development, communications and business acquisitions.  The tool has further usage allowing dynamic segmentation modelling, providing capability for mass personalisation enabling PepsiCo to talk to people personally at scale and within group scenarios.

The implications for media are clear, mass personalisation affects distribution of content in spaces otherwise considered the realm of fixed audience formats – and we are seeing this play out across markets in out of home for instance.

Further building on these insights, Hackvertising is a perfect example of how many companies are demanding attention in their markets, using social insight about cultural triggers to combat the competition. Burger Kings success has come from enabling their agencies to have fun, be fearless and truly connect with tactical moments in culture, giving the brand the ability to become part of the Zeitgeist.

Let’s be honest though, context and culture are not new concepts in advertising. In fact one critical element of our strategic work is to find a cultural insight which we can utilise within our connections planning; likewise context is exactly where media is most powerful, and for us this is just good planning.  But context and culture have been lauded here this week as the future, mostly by creatives and tech companies, who perhaps haven’t been paying much attention to what we do for the last 40 years? For me, the interesting development in this idea of context and culture within advertising is perhaps a more authentic exploration of cultural diversity……but more on that tomorrow.


Until then,



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