Cannes 2010: Lessons on social media for advertisers: Alec Ross and Simon Mainwaring

By Prajjal Saha , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 21, 2010
Alec Ross is the senior advisor for innovation for the US government; while Simon Mainwaring is a brand consultant and a blogger

At the Debussy Theater in Palais Des Festivals, Cannes, the last session of the first day was packed. Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation, Office of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, US, and Simon Mainwaring, a brand consultant and a blogger, were addressing the gathering on the power of social media.

& #BANNER1 & #Ross started by saying that the president of the US, Barrack Obama started his electoral campaign through social media. He stated that Obama, despite his unconventional background, gained people's support and acceptance because of social media. He added that social media continues to be high in priority for the Obama government.

Taking to afaqs! later, he said that Obama reaches out to citizens across countries through social media. He cited the example of how he reached out directly to the people in Iran on New Year's Day through social media -- which wouldn't have been possible otherwise through traditional media.

Stating that the new media could come as a solution to age-old problems, Ross cited two examples. First, the mobile clip of a woman killed in Iran put on a social website a year ago, soon turned into a global campaign of resistance movement. Similarly, the mobile SMS system was used for rescue operations after the earthquake in Haiti.

Mainwaring also stated some do's and don'ts on social media for advertising agencies.

He emphasised that relationships couldn't be imposed in the online or social space. Neither could a time frame be given to build relationships. If the advertisers need feedback from the consumers, it can't be in the form of a transaction. Instead, the marketer needs to invest time and own the relationship.

He also said that agencies need to be like day-time traders on social emotions; they need to react to consumers in real-time, instead of waiting for research insights.

Stating that push is now the pull with crowd sourcing becoming the new trend, he spoke about the Levi's campaign, wherein the company is looking for a new face for the brand. Consumers now co-author the story advertisers tell, he emphasised.

Stating the power of social media, he cited the example of the Old Spice campaign. Though it was like a traditional film, but when it was put on social media, it got 10.5 million page views in a few weeks' time.

The evolution of revolution is contribution, Mainwaring said. For this, the environment needs to change from competitive to collaborative; where self-interest should cumulate to create something good.