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Cannes Lions 2017: Rise of the Creative Marketing Officer

CMOs from every category and some of the biggest and most iconic brands in the world are taking the stage at Cannes this week. As different as they are, after hearing them speak, the things they value as they look toward the future are similar.

We see a new CMO rising, the Creative Marketing Officer, leaving "chief" behind and prioritizing creativity above power. More and more CMOs are demanding of themselves, and their agencies, not only creative work, but the application of creativity across all they do. This includes applied uses of new tech in communication, leveraging non-traditional business and brand-building techniques and embracing creative failure to evolve their businesses. As incumbent brands are being challenged by their nimble, shiny new competitors, today's CMOs recognize the absolute need to be creative marketers in every respect and are throwing out the playbooks of the past.

  

ALISON LEWIS, JOHNSON & JOHNSON CMO

Cannes Lions 2017

Alison was vocal on the need for creativity and nimbleness in her marketing team and agency partners: hiring from tech, agencies & digital and changing legacy metrics to encourage creativity. She spoke about ambidextrous marketing skills as a necessity to push a business forward; ambidextrous in that CMOs need both hard and soft skills, understanding of tech and tradition and must speak to consumers on a personal level while achieving mass scale. Alison commented on how tech companies are taking over Cannes and that it speaks to the need for our industry to be continuous learners and explore further about how to use tech in our creativity.

 

SYL SALLER, DIAGEO CMO

Cannes Lions 2017

Using purpose to unlock the soul of the brand and drive business results is still very relevant, but doing it right is difficult to do. The Diageo CMO was pretty clear about how she feels about purpose: it is the soul of the brand, not CSR. The brands under her purview, including Johnnie Walker, Guinness and Bailey's, are trading in function for emotion all the way. Emotion trumps production in her opinion. Using new tech and making gorgeous film is still important, but not if you sacrifice the purpose or try to replace it with pretty pictures and cute taglines.

 

adidas

Cannes Lions 2017

Brave marketing leadership clearly allows in-house creative director Paul Gaudio to take risks; truly living the message behind their adidas Originals brand campaign of being "never finished". Paul talked about the rise of creative culture and what it means for adidas to be a "work in progress brand". The collaboration with Alexander Wang is an example of this. The designer accidentally turned the famous three striped logo upside down and after seeing it reversed on a t-shirt, instead of changing the "failure" adidas embraced it as a happy accident and ran with it, proving that perceived failure can net unexpected success.

 

KEITH WEED, UNILEVER CMO

Cannes Lions 2017

Being bold and courageous makes you money. Full stop. Keith talked about the need for brand courage and how progressive ads that move away from stereotypical storytelling are 25% more effective than those that do not.