Cannes 2011: Handy tips for creative professionals

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 24, 2011
At the Debussy on Thursday afternoon, creative honchos from Crispin Porter + Bogusky spoke about how creative professionals can improve their work.

Thursday saw an interesting session by MDC Partners and Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B). At the seminar, titled Five for Five, the panellists took turns to share their thoughts on advertising.

The speakers from CP+B included Andrew Keller, partner and chief executive officer, Rob Reilly, partner and worldwide chief creative officer, Tiffany Rolfe, vice-president and executive creative director, Jeff Benjamin, partner and chief creative officer, and Chuck Porter, chairperson, CP+B and chief strategist, MDC Partners. Founder of MDC Partners, Miles Nadal, also shared a few words.

After Chuck Porter gave an opening talk about living in the moment and shared some interesting commercials, Andrew Keller took to the microphone and spoke about the human brain and the way it responds to creativity. He shared that when famous singer Sting's brain functioning was studied with the help of an MRI scan it was found that when he was in the process of creating a song, the biography-related parts of his brain were active. This was because, for him, making music was a personal process, which activated the parts of the brain that were most closely connected with who he is as a person.

Keller suggested that creative professionals have a lesson to learn from this study. "Our job should thus be to activate the biographical parts of a consumer's brain when they interact with the brand," he enthused.

Keller also advised that creative professionals could practice the technique of 'method advertising'. According to Keller, just like 'method acting' -- in which, say, an actor playing the role of a fireman actually works as a fireman six months prior to shooting the film in order to get into character fully, method advertising could help creative folk get close to the brand while creating communication for it.

"If the brand really means something to you, it will mean something to the consumers, too," Keller said, adding that it is important for creative directors to truly internalise the brand by pretending they own it, and of course, by actually using it.

Rob Reilly came on next and encouraged creative professionals to indulge in what he calls "delusional positivity", in order to take their ads to the next level. To illustrate his point, Reilly cited the example of how his agency changed the packaging of the product Baby Carrots to resemble junk food, so that it would sell faster.

Another example of an optimistic and bold campaign by his agency was that for Burger King -- the brand offered one free Whopper burger to all those who deleted 10 Facebook friends as part of the 'Whopper Sacrifice' campaign! Of course, it worked.

Tiffany Rolfe spoke next and focussed on the issue of how women are portrayed in a stereotypical manner in most ads. "Either they're shown as good mothers, tender and loving girls, or people who adore babies and kittens, but never as funny human beings who not only have a good sense of humour, but can also be the butt of others' jokes," she said.

Jeff Benjamin, in his turn, said that the "notion of invention in advertising" is very crucial. According to him, today, technology and culture are in sync, and this ought to be leveraged by creative folk. "Ads need to move beyond mere banner advertising and television spots, and actually invent and tell consumers stories about the brand in question through these inventions," he said, citing the example of Domino's Pizza Tracker, which allows consumers to track the status of their pizza from the time they order it to the time it is delivered.

MDC's Miles Nadal concurred with Benjamin and encouraged creative professionals to optimise their work by cashing in on the space where technology and creativity are converging.

To view interviews from Cannes 2011, click here.

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