What Cannes Lions Taught Us About Marketing To Millennials


This Cannes Lions article was written by Murray Newlands

A panel of experts was assembled last week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, who gave us their take on marketing to Millennials in 2014.

Entitled "Brand Purpose, Millennials and the Epic Creative that Engages Them," the panel included Quinn Kilbury, brand director for Newcastle Brown Ale at Heineken; Christina Smedley, VP of global brand and communications at PayPal; Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelez; and Scott Beaudoin, global practice director of corporate and brand citizenship for MSLGroup.

John Mescall, executive creative director of McCann Australia, was the standout expert from the panel. Mescall is best known as the man who came up with "Dumb Ways to Die" for Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia. His campaign holds the achievement of most-awarded campaign in the history of Cannes, winning multiple Lions in 2013.

Takeaways From The Panel

The panel, of course, agreed that brands must resonate with their target audience and have a realistic understanding of societal needs in order to have the kinds of conversations deemed to be relevant by millennial consumers.

In order to engage with Millennials, it was noted that brands must be willing to loosen up and give up control, which is a scary idea for most brands.

"We have so many marketing constructs that come from the old adage of control. But you've got more power than you've ever had in the history of marketing, thanks to social platforms, but to exercise that power, you must relinquish control," said Mescall.

The Millennial market values peer-to-peer conversations, so allowing Millennials to control the conversation can help boost engagement. Being newsworthy and creative are also important when engaging with Millennials.

The panel argued that people talking about your brand absolutely equates to sales, pointing to this year's PR Grand Prix winner, "The Scarecrow" from Chipotle as an example of how earned media can generate conversations and sales.

You don't necessarily have to be young to understand Millennials, you just have to be willing to understand and be a part of youth culture. Standing for something is important to Millennials, but the panel believed not every brand has to stand for something, they just have to be honest, according to Kilbury.

Added Kilbury, "You have to be newsworthy, too. People have to choose between cute kittens, Justin Beiber and your brand. It's got to be a super creative idea."

We ran into Giant Media Founder and VP David Segura who, commenting on the panel, said, "Staying 'loose' and fun is probably the best way to encourage sharing of your marketing message. If the audience sees an authentically funny video, they'll help boost your ROI with every 'share' and 'like' on social media."

In conclusion, the panel left the audience with a challenge to have ambitious goals and go after. Use technology as your friend, and try to "matter to the world."

by Steve Hall    Jun-24-14   Click to Comment   
Topic: Industry Events