Sparking Joy at Cannes Lions – Lessons in De-Cluttering the Media Landscape

Marie Kondo at 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (Photo courtesy of Cannes Lions)
Canada in Cannes is a daily series from The Globe and Mail’s correspondents at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Featuring the best insights and key takeaways each day from members of our Canadian Cannes Advisory Board, they’ll offer their unique perspectives and on-the-ground scoop. The first of this series is by Sonia Carreno, President of the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB Canada).

It wasn’t the first presentation, nor was it focused on digital media but upon reflection on the first day of content at Cannes Lions, Marie Kondo’s presentation stood out as a beacon of organization among the noise of the thousands of advertising industry professionals hungry for fresh insights.

Interestingly, many presentations throughout the day started with setting the tone around the diminishing level of human attention spans. Humans consume content like whales consume krill (despite our proven attention span being less than that of a goldfish) and Kondo’s presentation about living a de-cluttered life was a profound reminder to industry executives that consumers are under 24/7 content assault. Oh sure, the excess clothes and tech gadgets become a pest over time but the real takeaway for the marketers in the room, was that society is ready for every version of “less”. As evidenced by Kondo’s book entitled Life-changing Magic: A Journal : Spark Joy Every Day, which sat firmly on the New York Times bestseller list for an amazing 100 weeks as well as the Netflix series featuring everyday Americans lucky enough to be schooled on streamlining a la KonMari method being devoured in 200 countries, it is clear that a global minimalist movement is underway.

Kondo’s presentation about living a de-cluttered life was a profound reminder to industry executives that consumers are under 24/7 content assault.

-Sonia Carreno, President, IAB Canada

The cluttered media landscape was further unpacked at a session entitled “Conversations that Shape Culture: The Participation Playbook” featuring Katrina Stilton Dodd, Head of Trends at Contagious and Alex Josephson, Head of Global Brand Strategy at Twitter. 

Dodd and Josephson laid out a great argument against the shotgun approach that marketers have long been betting on in favour of focusing on small, niche enthusiasts to “spark joy” and champion messaging. Citing examples that focused on specific subject matter that would be concentrated and powerful enough to attract the bandwagon effect. Again, the concept of focused communication with underlying purpose was brought to the forefront. In closing, Dodd remarked that Participation is too important for marketers to leave to chance. Real communication requires effort and a deeper, unprecedented connection with consumers.

Finally, to round off the theme around developing connection with over stimulated consumers, was a session entitled “How to Future Proof Creativity” hosted by Scott Belsky, the Chief Product Officer at Adobe and featuring Debbie Millman the Founder and Host of Design Matters.

Millman gave a compelling talk about how the condition of brands reflect the condition of our culture. She went on to explain humanity’s ten-thousand-year history of creating symbols that were designed not for corporations but for the gods. Even in this context she explained, it was critical to get tribal buy-in. In the modern age brands began to reflect the image of corporations and most recently, this process has inverted as consumers have begun to shape the images and movements that more closely reflect their own beliefs and values. 

The conversation moved towards the use of AI and the future. When asked about the possibilities of micro-branding where the traditional anthemic players no longer exist so that they can atomize to accommodate hyper-personalization, Millman suggested that this would very likely be the future of marketing. The infrastructure for programmatic branding is not yet available. I would argue that it’s well on its way when one considers the image recognition technology available to mass retail enablers like Instagram/Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon.

In the spirit of Marie Kondo, when marketers attain the ability to spark individualized joy, why wouldn’t they?


About the Author

Sonia Carreno is the President of The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB Canada) and member of the Canadian Cannes Advisory Board.