Cannes Lions 2015

By Richelle Robbins. Published on July 14, 2015.

Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity

If you’re in the marketing, advertising, media or tech world, chances are you have heard about the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. With the event held in the South of France during the beautiful summer month of June, what professional wouldn’t want to grow their career while playing in the sun? For 2015, I was one of five students selected by the American Pavilion to attend the Festival. With the American Pavilion’s credo, I was granted a Student pass that allowed me all-access into the Festival’s seminars, networking functions, workshops, and award shows. In addition, my pass got me into many of the popular hotspots including the Facebook and Google beaches.

Evan Spiegel of Snapchat

Of the seminars I attended, there were two that really stood out. Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles of Cosmopolitan interviewed Evan Spiegel, Co-Founder and CEO of one of the world’s largest social media apps, Snapchat. With the seminar entitled, “The Millennial Mind: Creativity & What It Means to the World’s Largest Living Generation,” Coles asked Spiegel questions about the history of Snapchat, its current position in the marketplace, and where he saw it going in the future. Although she was a tough and thorough interviewer, Spiegel remained calmed and seemed genuine in his responses. When asked why he chose Snapchat’s signature ghost logo he replied, “I drew it in my dorm room.” Likewise, when asked why he chose yellow as Snapchat’s background color he replied, “My friends and I noticed not a lot of other companies use yellow.” In describing Snapchat’s differentiators in the social media market, Spiegel referred to Snapchat as telling a story from the beginning to the end, whereas competitors like Facebook and Twitter organize their content from newest to oldest. Also, he spoke about advertising on his social media as something owners can opt-in to as they choose whether or not to open an advertiser’s story; unlike Facebook, however, where advertising messages are constantly mixed in with organic user content.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Another seminar that left questions in my mind was “Sentience: The Coming AI Revolution” with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, developer of the World Wide Web. In his seminar, he spoke briefly about the importance of privacy, the ownership and control of artificial intelligence, and the possible benefits and dangers of human robotic technologies. One quote I vividly remember him saying was that, “Data is more important to me than it is important to you.” I believe he meant that individuals can benefit more from their own personal data, such as with health statistics and life behaviors, than large advertising companies can by holding and selling all of this data. People will be willing to give up privacy if they have a product that can use their personal data to change their lives for the better. While Sir Berners-Lee envisions AI as having personal assistants connect and communicate with each other, he believes that AI can be controlled by forces as big as militaries and as small as criminals. “We will program the very core of their nature” he said, which should send shivers up your spine as it did to mine. He ended the seminar with his thoughts on how AI could hurt human existence in the future: “If robots get the same rights as human beings, we have gone too far – [that will be] the red line.”

Marilyn Manson

Other seminars that piqued my interest included: Marilyn Manson’s interview about the importance of personal branding (behind sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll); renowned chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver’s perspective on “Innovation: When New Just Isn’t Enough” and the alarming number of unhealthy and malnourished people in the world; Emilie Baltz and Billie Whitehouse’s ideas of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to create and experiment with completely new mediums; and Keith Reinhard’s interview with Mark van der Heijden, known as the Backpacker Intern, where they explore creativity through different places and cultures around the world.

Google Beach

Besides attending the seminars and learning from some of the industry’s most innovative leaders, I also had the best networking opportunities on the beaches and at the awards shows. The Google Beach had a relaxed atmosphere where you could “code” to get free drinks, design your own Android at the water bottle station, and play volleyball in a week-long tournament. The Facebook Beach was much more business-oriented as the food spread was professionally crafted, the daily talks were hosted by most of Facebook’s own, and the design of the overall space was very trendy.

Awards Show

The award shows were my favorite part about the Lions Festival as you got to see the work that granted a Lion. Winners came from a variety of brands and causes, such as States United to Prevent Gun Violence’s “Guns with History,” The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” (which also received a standing ovation from the audience), Burger King’s “Proud Whopper,” and many others. The most prominent trend I saw from these and other award-winning campaigns was that they sought to address a large social issue. In fact, the Festival created a new Lion this year called the Glass Lion which was awarded to “work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice through the conscious representation of gender in advertising.” Procter and Gamble’s Always brand was a Festival favorite for its campaign “#LikeAGirl” which won a Glass Lion, the PR Grand Prix, and many other Gold Lions.

Past attendees warned me that, “You can’t do everything in Cannes,” but I certainly tried my best.

Gold Lion for Agency of the Year

Do you have a favorite piece of work that won a Lion at this year’s Festival? If so, leave a comment about it in the section below! For more information about the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, please visit their homepage here or feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.


Benetton and Shock Advertising: Does it work?

Benetton ads and shock advertising

This last week in my consumer behavior course, we evaluated Benetton’s shock advertisements and discussed whether or not they acted favorably or disfavorably toward the brand. We also analyzed if the ads were in fact considered artwork as this was the creative director’s argument at the time. After our in-class discussion, we each interviewed four of our friends and asked them the following questions:

1. Are you familiar with Benetton?

2. If yes, what do you know about the brand?

3. If yes, how do you feel about the brand?

4. [Show a few of the print ads from our case study, observe your friend’s reaction.]

5. What do these ads say to you? [the point of your question is to find out what message the ads are conveying/communicating – about the cause, about the brand].

All of the friends I interviewed were under the age of 25, with two of them being female and two of them being male. Not one of my interviewees had heard of the Benetton brand. After they had told me they weren’t familiar with the brand, I showed them a few of their most famous (or dare I say infamous) advertisements from the 80’s to today. The overwhelming response I got from my friends was that they did not know what product or service the brand was offering. They were able to associate some ads with social justice causes, such as homosexual equality, homosexual parenting and adoption, racial equality, racial parenting and adoption, among a few others. The one ad that caused the most confusion was the ad of the newly born baby still with the umbilical cord attached. Some of my friends thought it was an anti-abortion ad while others had no idea of what to think of the ad. From the ads that illustrated homosexual and racial equality, they said that they were easily identifiable social justice ads as they used people, their race, and their culture  to convey the message of equality. However, they said they still were unclear of what it exactly Benetton offered to the public.

My friends’ responses align with my own thoughts and feelings. While some of Benetton’s ads raised awareness of social justice issues and were easily identifiable, other were not; in addition, none of the ads clearly explained what kind of company Benetton was and what they offered. While consumers do not always want to be blatantly told what an ad represents, there has to be some level of consumer understanding; otherwise, the ad defeats its purpose at raising positive feelings about the brand and its products or services. When I asked my friends if they thought the ads were artwork, the majority said they believed the ads were great photography but not necessarily artwork. Personally, I think Benetton has the right idea of telling consumers it believes in certain social justice issues as they explain what side they are on; however, they do not explain well-enough to the consumer what it is they offer and how that is related to the ad.

How do you feel about Benetton’s ads? Do you believe they were effective or ineffective in their techniques? Comment below and tune-in next week for another discussion in consumer behavior!

*The image above is not intended to to inflict on any copyright infringements of Benetton or its advertisements.

Food and Drink Superbrands

Red Bull Stadium

In a BBC video production titled The Secrets of Superbrands, one British host examines large food and beverage companies that he describes as glo-local, or so global that they have become local brands. These superbrands include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Red Bull. Throughout the video, the host meets with different branding and marketing experts to help better explain key concepts of why and how these brands became the superbrands that they are today.

One thing from the video that really stood out to me was research has proven that certain brands are seen as people in the minds of human beings. Brands have taken on such personalities and have become such an integral part of the lives of many people that people now recognize them as family or friends in the frontal cortex of their brains. Interestingly, this personification of brands was not developed today; it has been around for centuries, as mentioned by Coca-Cola in the video.

An idea from this video that I want to apply to branding assignments and projects in the future is the focus on serving individual communities. Whether you’re McDonald’s or a mom and pop shop, it is important that the products and services you provide your customers with align with your customer’s values. A great example of this was described in the video as McDonald’s having a different menu in every country.

Lastly, a question about the power of superbrands that is still circling in my mind is where will the line exist between a brand as a brand and a brand as a person in the future. If consumers are associating brands with friends and family in today’s time, how will brands evolve in the future? Will there always be this marketer’s problem of making a brand more than a brand? Will hedonic values change our biological physiologies so much that we end up putting crap into our bodies but believing we are eating and drinking what is good for us? I believe every brand has a right to have a personality, but what if future generations will not be able to distinguish between a marketing message and a good or bad product?

What is your take on the evolution of brands as personalities? Do you believe brands are as familiar to us as people?Comment below and follow my blog next week for the latest discussion in marketing and consumer behavior!

Is it ethical to encourage impulse or unplanned purchases?

Retail atmospherics

In the marketing world, there is a debate about whether encouraging impulse purchases is ethical or unethical. Retailers use five different approaches to persuade unplanned or impulse purchases: 1.) Merchandise complementary products together, 2.) Encourage “add-on” purchases, 3.) Create an emotionally charged atmosphere, 4.) Make things easy to buy, and 5.) Provide a discount. As a marketer and a consumer, I believe that encouraging impulse purchases with these five marketing tools is ethical.

Often times, consumers do not remember exactly what they need to buy at a store. Marketing tools such as complementary and add-on purchases trigger a consumer’s memory to buy the products and services that they need as well as enjoy. Furthermore, complementary purchases might help a consumer in his or her original purchase decision by adding value. For example, a consumer who is throwing a barbecue party might not need potato chips or condiments to go with hot dogs and hamburgers, but it is a likely side guests might expect. Likewise, retailers and store owners can often get consumers to spend more money by providing a relaxing or exciting atmosphere. As long as consumers are enjoying their time in these establishments, I see no reason why marketers can’t use tools such as atmospherics and discounts to get consumers to stay longer and thus spend more money. Recently, I visited a Mexican restaurant with my family. We had arrived fairly late (around 10:00PM) and saw some of the servers already closing up sections of the restaurant. Although it was late and the workers probably wanted to go home, everyone treated us extremely nice and allowed us to take our time in eating our meal. I also noticed that the work crew had dimmed the lights to a reddish glow, and I read somewhere that red light prompts hunger in the human body. I used to believe that restaurants were either very dark or extremely well-lit by coincidence, but I now know that these types of environmental changes instill some sort of reaction in the consumer; whether it is to stay longer and order dessert or to eat quickly so that the next guest may have a table.

Do you believe encouraging impulse or unplanned purchases is unethical? Write your opinion in the comments below! Tune-in next week to catch the latest discussion in marketing and advertising trends.

The War on Drugs and Advertising

Children and the War on Drugs

In my Consumer Behavior lecture this past week, we watched old advertisements cautioning children and teenagers from trying or using drugs. While the scare tactic was an obvious theme, we noticed that some of the other advertising messages were very misleading or that they were trying to connect dots between things that were not directly related, such as the war on drugs and terrorism. Likewise, the use of certain drugs has changed drastically over the last 20 years, particularly marijuana. It is now legal to smoke marijuana in some states, and other states still allow the use of it for medical purposes, making it a nationally-known substance that helps alleviate pain or discomfort. In this post, I will describe advertising ideas that I would use to target teenagers and young adults in today’s time from trying drugs.

First came Mary Jane…

In the campaign combating the War on Drugs, I would attempt to inform (notice not scare) the consumer of how their body reacts when on drugs. The commercial can showcase synapses in the brain, and how they either slow down or over-accelerate from the substances being used. The “brain slideshow” could begin with substances like marijuana and transition into the more dangerous, life-threatening drugs. Likewise, I would show hard numbers explaining how many brain cells are dying or how many endorphins and other chemicals are being released compared to the natural and healthy amount next to the moving image of the brain transformation.

Since most young people today are concerned with health and fitness, we can explain how using drugs affects your body in unhealthy ways that may cause permanent damage not only to your insides but also to your outsides. While marijuana may not be a drug some people consider as harmful or dangerous, we can show how smoking it changes your chemical balance and thus affects your external actions, such as driving, cooking, or watching after children.

In addition, I noticed that the majority of the older ads targeted the individual being affected, but not the people surrounding the individual being affected. If we really wanted to “scare” people away from using drugs, we can show children or young brothers and sisters picking up and ingesting these substances, or we might show children living in poverty due to negligence of drug-abusing parents. These ads might get a better response as they feature “loved ones” instead of the individual being the most hurt or affected by drugs.

Do you have any ideas or creative messages for building a campaign against using drugs? If so, comment below and share your thoughts!

Tune-in next week for the latest discussion on consumer behavior and advertising.

Image: Kelly Short

Generation Z Microculture

Generation Z

In this week’s blog post, I will examine how microcultures are formed from generations. As a millennial and a marketer, it is no surprise that the media is focused on my generation since the older generations made up of Generation X and Baby Boomers are dying off. My generation holds the near future’s political leaders, engineers, scientists, and workaholics. My generation also includes major cultural and demographic trends such as declining birth rates, increasing consumer affluence, increasing life expectancy (and aging consumers), and increasing cultural diversity (Harris & Babin, 2015). With all of these major changes happening, it is no wonder why marketers and advertisers are so obsessed with my generation. However, I like to think ahead and I have a feeling that Generation Z, or the group of people born after 1995, are going to quickly surpass the importance of millennials.

Generation Z

As mentioned earlier, Generation Z is comprised of consumers born between 1995 and 2005. These consumers are currently in their teen years, or as most psychologists would note, their “formative years.” With this idea in mind, pre-teens and teenagers are highly influenced by the messages around them; this intake of information then leads to their actions such as buying behavior and purchase decisions in their future lives. These messages can take a variety of forms such as: parental guidance, friends’ recommendations, peer pressure, and local and national advertising displayed on their preferred media devices. While Millennials are indeed the next generation to drive the future, Generation Z is the next set of people to drive marketing and advertising initiatives. Described as “KGOY” (kids growing older, younger), Generation Z will be the “most educated, diverse, and mobile group to date” (Harris & Babin, 2015). It’s time to move faster than Congress, in terms of marketing and advertising anyway.

Follow my blog or comment below to join in on the Generation Z Microculture discussion! Need to stay in touch with all of the latest trends and topics in marketing and advertising? Tune-in to my blog next week for another look at consumer behavior and how it affects marketing and advertising messages.


Harris, E. G., & Babin, B.J. (2015). Consumer Behavior (6th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.


Core Societal Values and Germany: How do CSV scores affect lifestyles?

CSV & Germany

In this blog post, I will be looking at Germany’s core societal values and the scores associated with each. These values, commonly referred to by marketers as CSV, “represent a commonly agreed upon consensus about the most preferable ways of living within a society” (Gray 2015). According to the Hofstede Centre, Germany’s core societal values include: Power Distance (35), Individualism (67), Masculinity (66), Uncertainty Avoidance (65), Long Term Orientation (83), and Indulgence (40). For more detailed descriptions of what each core societal value means and how each score is interpreted, please visit the Hofstede Centre here.

How might these scores affect my lifestyle if I were to move from the United States to Germany?

From looking at Germany’s CSV scores, I can see that Germany is similar to the United States in that it is a very individualistic society. Germans tend to have small families that focus on building self-actualization like many Americans, including myself and my family. In addition, Germany’s highest CSV score is in Long Term Orientation, which resonates especially well with me as I live my life following long term orientation. However, the United States as a whole has a super low long term orientation score of only 26! Masculinity is still large in both the United States and Germany, which simply means that both countries are driven by competition, achievement, and success; all of which align well with me. The biggest differences between the United States and Germany in CSV scores include indulgence and uncertainty avoidance. While the United States runs higher in indulgence and lower in uncertainty avoidance, Germany is opposite. I do not think this would make any future acculturation process difficult for me, as I tend to be more like the Germans in both of these areas.

Overall, I was surprised to learn that Germany’s core societal values align better with my personal values than the United States. Although I don’t plan on moving to a foreign country any time soon, I will keep Germany in the back of my mind as a potential option.

To learn more about core societal values, visit the Hofstede Centre here. To stay up-to-date on the latest trends in marketing, follow my blog and tune-in next week!

Image: Bert Kaufmann