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Direct: The category that pretty much sums up the marketer’s grail

Cannes Lions 2015: Sunday June 21
By Mary Maddever, VP Editorial Director at Brunico Communications
Twitter: @maddasever

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is always practicing what it preaches, adding categories and shifting focus to reflect change in the industry. This year Cannes added an Innovation mini-fest, and is focusing on equality and addressing gender stereotyping through first-time initiative The Glass Lion. That push to shatter glass ceilings and status quo meshes with another first at Cannes, a Canadian woman taking the jury president reins – Leo Burnett CEO and chief creative officer Judy John, who helmed the Direct jury this year.

In her President’s Message in the Cannes guide, she wrote: “Direct is now a category that spans across media, and is as interesting and creative as it is varied. Thanks to technology, there are many ways to reach people to elicit a response than ever before . . . All the best work speaks to someone and makes them want to do something, almost everything can be considered direct now, which makes this a growing category and a challenging category to judge.”4

The fact that everything can be considered direct means more categories of marketing could benefit from the full range of tools in the DM arsenal. Perusing the Direct entries this morning in the basement of Palais, this was evident. Driven by the fact that consumers are now the only gatekeepers brands really have to get past – everyone from TV producers to CPG marketers are digging deeper into this area of expertise.

And the fact that Canada is doing some market-leading work on this front was evident when the first set of shortlists were released this morning. Of the 22 Lions nods Canada amassed across Direct, Press and Promo (but sadly, none in Mobile), nine were for DM category entries.

Leading the pack with three nods was #Likeagirl for Always, out of Leo Burnett, which was shortlisted for Use of Social Audience in a Direct Marketing campaign, Fast Moving Consumer Goods, and Writing for Direct. The campaign has been on an impressive global awards show roll, and is considered a top contender for Gold Lions and potential Grand Prix. Not to mention that millions of people around the world are thinking differently about the damage of unintentional stereotyping.

Another Canadian campaign that’s been commanding global attention is Grey’s work for Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. “Groceries Not Guns” was shortlisted twice; in Use of Social Audience and in Integrated Campaign Led by DM.

Inspiration Boxes for Ikea, also out of Leo, made the cut in the Targeted Ambient Media Large Scale category, and in a pack of 28 other contenders in that sub-category, looks strong for a Lion. The fact that it takes an existing award-sweeping campaign (built on a brilliant insight, the need for boxes in Montreal on the mass Moving Day) to an even more genius level – boxes that double as product samples – bodes well. The final Leo entry that made it through is Bell Media’s U.S. Open campaign, “Kings and Queens of the Court.”

Another likely-to-Lions entry is the JWT Better Tomorrows campaign for the Hospital for Sick Children. The massively challenging mini-doc-a-day initiative is one of only four campaigns that made it though the cull in Direct Response Broadcast.

And Canada’s final Direct contender is Rethink ‘s Uber Safe program which got a nod for best Use of Technology in a DM campaign, one of only seven techcentric entries that made the shortlist cut.

Judging by some of the entries from around the world I viewed this morning, combining traditional best practices with the creative possibilities opened up by adding tech to the equation, means Direct can be the BFF of data and ROI – and innovation.


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