Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Cannes in Cairns in the Far North of Queensland as part of my professional development with The Creative Collective. All team members at The Creative Collective are allocated a professional development budget each year, and I was so excited to be approved to attend this highly anticipated three-day industry conference featuring over 1500 attendees.
The event which was presented by Pinterest, was truly the industry event of the year for marketing & media in my eyes and I found it unbelievably valuable. At the event, we heard from what I believe to be some of the greatest speakers in the industry and were able to attend fun networking events where I met some lovely, like-minded industry colleagues from all over Australia.
Though I was a little nervous at first as I embarked on my first solo work trip in a city I had never traveled to before, the moment I set foot in such a vibrant atmosphere which was a blend of learning, networking, and inspiration my apprehensions vanished, and as a result, I took away many, many insights that will continue to help me grow both professionally and personally.
So what did I learn over my incredible week in Cairns? Buckle up and get ready to dive into the ideas and experiences that defined my time in this tropical paradise.
A Recap of Insights from Cannes in Cairns
1/ Customer centric marketing, always
One of the standout messages that resonated with me throughout the conference was the importance of focusing on people rather than merely the product or service being advertised. Author Jane Caro’s inspiring words emphasised that while the offerings might be mundane, the target audience is anything but. By always shifting our focus to the people we are advertising to, we can create ads that truly stand out to them.
2/ Collaboration in Work and Automation:
The conference shed light on the dynamic interplay between in-house and external contractors post COVID, highlighting the fact that both need to work together to thrive. This also intertwined with the discussion on the rise of AI and automation which is predicted to free up people in the industry (in-house staff and contractors) from mundane tasks, allowing them to channel their creativity and ideation more effectively in the months and years to come.
3/ Protecting Ideas and Embracing Imagination:
The importance of nurturing ideas and protecting them throughout the creative process was a recurring theme of the conference. The emphasis here was on embracing your imagination to push boundaries and innovate, even if others around you don’t think it will work. While data plays a significant role in decision-making, the last 10% of the creative process requires the courage to use imagination to defy expectations and create something extraordinary, something that data could not predict.
4/ Inclusive Advertising and Courageous Creativity:
Inclusivity took centre stage, reminding us that it’s about the genuine presence of diverse individuals in ads rather than merely highlighting or segregating them. And to top that, the experts advised targeting minute segments year round, not just on special celebration days for best results given your consumers are not just interested in your product around specific days or months of the year in most cases. The conference encouraged marketers to step out from behind their desks and actively engage with consumers and clients to understand them better, to improve their work.
5/ Embracing New Media Trends:
Directors and stars from LiSTNR provided insights into the evolving media landscape, and highlighted the increasing dominance of radio, podcasts, and streaming platforms which are starting to surpass other traditional forms of media. This growing trend emphasised the importance of adapting to new platforms and understanding their potential for reaching wider audiences.
6/ The Power of Being An ‘Indie Agency’:
One significant takeaway from Cannes in Cairns was the many advantages of being part of an independent agency also known as an ‘indie’ agency. These chats made me reflect how we can forge deeper partnerships and genuinely care for our clients, guided by values such as endurance, impact, and excellence, rather than being beholden to a larger company that is part of a chain and having to comply with values and cultures we may not believe in. Another benefit of being an Indie Agency was crafting jobs tailored to individual talents and building a distinctive brand flavour on a daily basis to stand out, and therefore being able to foster a culture of creativity, thus attracting talent from larger companies seeking a better work-life balance.
7/ Meaningful Targeting:
Mark Ritson, International Brand Guru & Professor turned target audiences upside down as he explained the power of keeping it very simple. Ritson shared that he believes brands need to have a single-page branding book with their positioning and audiences only – no more.
Having tested 100s of creatives with his clients for different types of audiences and they all reacted to the same creative! He also said sophisticated mass marketing is in, and if you’re tight on budget, work in subcategories, like geography. He emphasised that a brand is pointless, and no one cares much about it, but rather it’s the actual value your brand brings to their lives that consumers care about. So to position effectively, he explained that you need to be distinct and different. To better understand our consumers, Ritson explained that we could imagine ourselves entering their minds and identifying three key things we want consumers to associate with our brand to form a positioning statement. Interesting!
8/ Gaining Resilience:
Dee Madigan, Executive Campaign Director from Campaign Edge talked us through her top tips for gaining resilience in your marketing/media career, which was: communication, community, connection, confidence, control, conscientiousness, cruelty, collaboration, criticism, contest, curiosity and to create.
9/ Inspiring Positive Change:
The conference emphasised the importance of being a catalyst for positive change within the advertising industry. Erin Elofson, Head of Canada and APAC Region for Pinterest, and Stan Grant, Australian Journalist & TV/Radio Presenter encouraged us to seek purpose in our work and embark on a journey with like-minded individuals who share our vision for a better future.
That’s a Wrap of Cannes in Cairns 2023!
Three days spent at Cannes in Cairns was exhausting, but exhilarating all at the same time.
The conference not only provided me with so many valuable insights and learning opportunities to take back into the office and share with others, but also rekindled my passion for my job and the industry, leaving me eager to put a different spin on things for my clients and continue to shape the world through the power of creative communication.