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DVG @ Cannes Lions

by Jessica O’Callaghan
North America Regional Managing Director

From a duck to a white polar bear, my Cannes Lions 2016 trip is off to a good start!

This is my first year at Cannes Lions and I must admit, I was a bit overwhelmed by all there is to take in in this beautiful French town on the Côte d’Azur. But l learned quickly – check out what you’re passionate about and can hold your attention for 45 mins. Day 1 seemed like somewhat of a “warm up” for the week ahead so I explored Le Palais, checked out the outdoor venues (Snapchat signage dominated) and started my immersion.

The first session I attended was hosted by Taylor Herring, a London based PR firm, whose session was titled, “Zen and the Art of the Publicity Stunt”. My colleagues in NA mandated that I attend this one because if we had a dollar for every client who asked for a stunt, we’d have very deep pockets. But stunts are not easy to pull off. These guys have done cool stuff – from creating a very life-like white polar bear who roamed the streets of London (and Cannes yesterday!) to promote a new Arctic crime drama from Sky Atlantic called ‘Fortitude’ to launching the epic ‘Game of Thrones’ with a series of stunts around the world that engaged and stopped people in their tracks.

Their mantra: Stop interrupting and start entertaining. Or basically, ENTERTAIN OR DIE. Their top 5 brand picks for whose doing it well and captivating millennial audiences:

5) Uber – from offering Uber ice cream to kittens to snuggle with to being able to order up a mariachi band in San Francisco, Uber has mastered the art of fun and building brand love in unexpected ways.

4) AirBnB – they are master storytellers from creating underwater bedrooms in Paris to a winter igloo in NY during the 2016 “snowpocalypse” to being able to rent the iconic “Bedroom in Arles” in celebration of a van Gogh exhibition in Chicago recreating Van Gogh’s bedroom.

3) Ikea – known for awesome outdoor marketing that people can’t help but take notice because of the unexpected element, from living billboards to rooms hanging horizontally to book shelves in Australian beaches encouraging surfers to read more.

2) Red Bull – they didn’t need to say much here. They have become the masters of adrenaline marketing.

1) Wait for it …PornHub – the lesson here was that this online site does some pretty clever things to attract attention to its offering. From a hilarious holiday campaign to creating products they don’t want you to buy (e.g., the Wank Band) to launching Kickstarter campaigns to fund the first-ever porn filmed in space.

To me, it came down to continually asking ourselves as PR professionals, WHAT IF?

The second session I attended was hosted by MemBrain and was a conversation with David Copperfield all about ‘The Art of Illusion in Modern Brand Narratives’. David spoke about how he creates stories with varying levels of emotional weight to demonstrate his magic.

He also did some amazing live magic for us from dancing napkins to a white duck going into a box, magically disappearing and then showing up in a bucket in the crowd. I found myself smiling like crazy because of the showmanship and really, his storytelling. David said “it’s not about fooling people, it’s about telling a simple story and creating emotional connections”. As PR pros and marketers, we know this isn’t always easy.

Jessica O'Callaghan holding up her pass to the Cannes Lions Festival

Snapchat billboard

Publicity Stunt or the real deal? A polar bear in Le Palais.

David Copperfield showing us all the Art of an Illusion.