Although it’s been just over a week since I got back from Cannes my brain has only just had time to percolate all the amazing, funny, inspiring and slightly strange goings-on on La Croisette.

Firstly the awards – there was so much good work winning Lions it was hard to keep up. But here’s my top three:

  • Sweetie: International Children’s Aid Organization for its use of cutting-edge tech to create social good.
  • Live Test Series: Volvo Trucks for beautifully simple creative product storytelling.
  • The Protection Ad: Nivea for bringing their core brand value (Protect) to life in a creative, insightful and most importantly useful way.

And onto the other Cannes side show - the über-celebrity power-speakers that appear at the festival every year.  Ranging from the crazy-but-brilliant “Empower the best content creators, or f * * k off” from Kanye West, to shameless self-promotion from Courtney Love, who topped off her personal Q&A session (completely unrelated to the festival) by singing (screaming) her new song. Sublime? Ridiculous? Nope. Just Cannes.

Celebrity meanderings aside, there’s one thing I say to people who ask me: “What did you take away from Cannes?”

And my answer has to be “Real Time…insert word here" 

One of the most fascinating insights for me was how the client/agency relationship and the processes we share are having to rapidly change to be able to develop successful real-time creative. The prize for any brand is being seen as dynamic, meaningful, with a real opinion that, ultimately, is relevant to the consumer.

I found that clients and agencies are taking learnings from their real-time social media efforts to inform and streamline their marketing across other channels. 

Take Beats by Dre.  One of their core pillars is the culture around music, sport fashion and art, and looking at ways to play into the conversations in those areas. For Beats to be legitimately part of these conversations it has to be real-time. To do that, it works with its advertising agency R/GA in a very different way, taking its partnership to all new levels of flexibility, trust and fearlessness. They call it creating content and communications at the speed of culture. 

So, how are they working differently together? To start with they’ve thrown out the traditional or “static” agency brief approach in favour of a fast turnaround, real-time content method that treats all mediums equally (including TV) when it comes to getting dynamic, real-time creative out.

They then fused creativity, strategy, client/agency and resonance together to work in one very dynamic team where the client/agency lines are blurred.

“There were no treatments, no day-long meetings and production schedules that last days – everything was done immediately. We took the approach of ‘fuck briefs’ – and so we would text each other, call each other. It’s fairly relentless but the idea of a static brief that sits on a piece of paper and is talked about for the next few months, wouldn’t work – we had to be super relevant and timely,” said Temple from R/GA.

This approach has seen them create and insert on-the-fly TV spots in major live programmes to make sure it becomes part of a conversation in real time and capitalise on contextual marketing.

The Pills campaign, for example, featuring Tichina Arnold, Chris Rock, and Eminem, was a major example of this, when Beats created and ran a TV spot in reaction to singer Miley Cyrus dancing provocatively with Robbie Williams on stage during a TV performance.   It created an entirely new Pills campaign during the show that was then pushed out in the next ad break.

Another example is the Hear What You Want campaign. It hangs from the insight that sports stars use Beats noise-cancelling headphones to block out the vociferous, vocal rival sports fans who try to derail them. It’s the perfect marriage of real-world truth and actual product benefit.

But R/GA sat on this campaign until they were sure they could place it in the eye of the perfect storm – and with the right player. Thirty-seven-year-old Brooklyn Nets basketball player, Kevin Garnett, had been constantly put through the mill about his age. From the sports desk anchormen to the fans on the street, everyone had an opinion. 

R/GA turned around a through the line campaign in just two weeks. This meant tracking Garnett down and working around his inexhaustible schedule, before conceiving, shooting, producing and editing all the campaign content.  All in time for a major basketball play-off. 

The ad was played during the game’s commercial breaks, following a spate of comments about Garnett’s age.  So RG/A were able to be 100% relevant and reactive to their audience, delivering their creative to capitalise on the zeitgeist and be part of the conversation.          
This type of client/agency relationship epitomises the benefits of blurring the lines, of building up a mutual depth of trust, and of working more collaboratively to produce reactive, timely creative. 

But more than that, it shows the importance of taking a more fluid approach to what we do. The traditional ad funnel has long been a relic; we all know that. As these examples show, though, content creation and consumption is a two-way street now more than ever, where our audience’s consumption of our creative informs what, where and how we make it in the first place. Even if it may be a while for brands and agencies to adopt this way of working, we all should. 

It’s what Kanye would have wanted.