Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 2 August 2019

Podcast - Marketing & Advertising Trends - From Cannes Lions

Our third episode from Cannes Lions concentrated on Advertising and Marketing Trends and featured: 1. Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy UK discussing his talk ‘Make Advertising Great Again’ 2. Carla Buzasi, Managing Director, WGSN on the ‘Future Consumer 2021’ 3. Ellie Norman, Director of Marketing, Formula 1 on ‘Revitalising An Ageing Brand’

Part 1 – Make Advertising Great Again

Russell Goldsmith was joined by Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy UK, ahead of his talk ‘Make Advertising Great Again’.


Russell Goldsmith (left) with Rory Sutherland at Cannes Lions

Rory said that since about 1992, creative agencies haven’t been paid by media commission and yet still behave as though they are, and so limit their creativity and insights to deploying them in communication solutions. He thinks that calling yourself a consultant is clever, because it more or less qualifies you to give advice in any field you choose. By contrast, he thinks there are hundreds of problems that we could solve with the creative talent at Cannes Lions.  However, he said they are never asked to solve them because people assume that, until they’ve got £500m to give to Rupert Murdoch, an ad agency wouldn’t be interested in talking to them and that strikes him as a very self-limiting belief.

Rory said that the topic that fascinates him is how do you market marketing? He said that if you look at the dominant business culture that prevails, not so much in heavy advertisers like Unilever, but the prevalent business culture in finance and in most areas of business activity, it is a narrow one of neo liberal economics. He added that if you think about it the assumption of economics, people make decisions based on perfect information in an atmosphere of complete trust, but in such a world, marketing wouldn’t need to exist and so people who see the world that way tend to see marketing as at best a necessary evil or a cost to be minimised and not as a source of value creation. However, he thinks those in marketing also probably connive in this by using phrases like ‘added value’ as if the real value is inherent in the product and marketing can add a little bit of magic pixie dust on top, but it remains an optional extra.

Rory said that the Austrian School of Economics doesn’t think like that at all and believes that value is entirely subjective and that you are as much responsible for creating value if you promote something effectively or you presented effectively as you are if you actually make it well. He shared the phrase by Ludwig von Mises: ‘there’s no sensible distinction to be made between the value created in the restaurant by the man who cooks the food and the value created by the man who sweeps the floor’ by which, Rory said, he explicitly means by the analogy advertising, and marketing being the man who sweeps the floor – if you have fantastic Michelin starred quality food but you try and sell it in a restaurant that smells of sewage, nobody will enjoy their meal and in the same way you can make a fantastic product, but if you don’t have enough impact on the human brain enough to make people understand it, make sense of it and want it, that product remains worthless. Therefore, Rory said that this view, which is much closer to his, is that value is created in the head and therefore economics really should be subordinate to psychology as a discipline.

In his talk, Rory was going to show a film of an experiment by Melbourne comedians, Hamish & Andy, where they tried to sell admission to a 30 second Ed Sheeran Peep Show and nobody was interested.

Rory said that example is pretty much true for the financial services industry – it doesn’t really matter how good your product is, if nobody trusts you, they ain’t going to buy it.

Behavioural science

Rory said that it’s much easier to add value than it is to make money. The reason for that is no client has a budget for a problem they don’t realise they have. And so, part of the time what they do is they go in and say, everything you’re doing here makes logical sense, however at Stage 1, Stage 5 and Stage 7 you’re doing something which is psychologically catastrophic. He gave an example of a telephone call centre where people rang to cancel a subscription and the first question they were asked was, “can you please tell us why you’re cancelling your subscription?”.  Rory said the only problem here is if you get people to reiterate a list of negatives, winning them back is going to be doubly difficult and therefore suggested that they should start by asking the question, “can you remind us why you subscribed to this product in the first place?”. In terms of the psychological effect, in terms of the meaning of emotions they arouse, they can be absolutely opposite.

Rory’s latest ‘Alchemy. The Surprising Power of ideas that don’t make sense’ is out now!

Part 2 – Future Consumer 2021

Carla Buzasi, MD of trend forecasters, WGSN, was presenting on their Future Consumer 2021 report, which looks two years ahead at how people will be behaving, what they’ll be thinking, what they’ll be feeling and therefore the way that brands and businesses should interact with them.


Chatting with Carla Buzasi at Cannes Lions

There were three tribes that WGSN were focusing on:

  1. Compressionalists – time poor individuals who are constantly bombarded by all the expectations that come with modern life. With the rise of wellness, people are making conscious decisions to cut down on the things that they try and achieve every day.
  2. Kindness Keepers – individuals who have grown tired of the lack of action from governments, big corporates and some businesses. It is about fundamentally thinking about how you live your life and the impact that it has on others.
  3. Movement makers – quite a young demographic in areas like Southeast Asia, India and Africa, where there are rising youth populations which is in stark contrast to Europe, Japan and the US where there is a big polarisation because older people are getting older and they’re having fewer children. We are seeing young people who are taking actions into their own hands and driving change through their own entrepreneurship and their own ways of giving back and supporting other young people.

Strategies that WGSN are recommending to brands to engage with and market to these different tribes include:

  1. Adopt a direct to consumer approach – there are very successful direct to consumer brands that have very refined offerings and for the compressionalists particularly, they don’t want endless choice. They want you to make it easier for them.
  2. Purpose – this can’t be about just standing for something for five minutes and then moving onto another cause. This is about thinking about how you as a brand make impact because that really will resonate actually with a lot of these groups.
  3. Demographics– or groups of individuals that have been largely ignored by brands, for example, Gen M – the rising Muslim Youth population. Look out of your comfort zone, look where other brands are missing out and go there because there are people ready and waiting to spend money with you.

Part 3 – Revitalising An Ageing Brand

Ellie Norman, Director of Marketing at Formula One (F1), was speaking on the subject of ‘Revitalising an ageing brand’, in relation to F1 itself.


Chatting with F1’s Ellie Norman

Ellie explained that F1 has been around since 1950 but when Liberty Media acquired it in 2017, it was fair to say that actually the sport hadn’t progressed and stayed relevant to, what she thought, was where society and particularly digital marketing communications was at.

She therefore started by understanding what the perceptions of the sport and what barriers there were with existing fans, general sports fans or no fans at all as her job essentially is to grow the sport, the fan base, TV and digital audiences and attendance at races.

Ellie thinks it’s very easy for big brands and big companies to essentially get frozen because of the success they’ve had or the size they are at.  Inertia sets in and there is this fear that the bigger you are the more you’ve got to lose. She feels that inertia is almost the most dangerous thing that you can let set in because it will essentially lead to decline and death.  You therefore need to apply some of that growth hacker mentality of don’t ask, just do it and then test, move at speed, don’t be a purist, don’t think you always know what you’re doing and just keep going. She thinks it’s all about incremental gains and being able to set yourself free to try new stuff.

Ellie said that one of the biggest challenges is to step back and look at what you define as competition and the truth of it is what they came into was a motorsport rights organisation and when you look at the fans of today and the fans of tomorrow, they needed to pivot that to being much more of a media and entertainment brand, whilst holding onto the DNA of the sport, that soul of a race car driver.

In order to achieve this, Ellie said they had to break down those barriers and essentially produce content that resonated with that avid fan that was still engaged in the sport but also attract people those lapsed fans back to the sport too. For Ellie, it’s about how can they be packaging up some of the content that happens on the racetrack, the exciting moments within the races but importantly the human drama and the stories that are happening within the sport day in and day out. Ellie said that you have [get] to 100% under the skin of what you stand for and what those associations and perceptions are.  She added that what they learned from spending time on that from was fans both old and new want to know who the drivers are, the teams and the people within the sport.

Ellie continued that the human emotional connection and what is driving that obsession to win on track is what was very motivating and the essence or the notion of the best of the best. It is that aspiration and desirability that you still want to come through. She said that they will look to do that very much through a lens of man and machine pushed to their limits. Often, they will be opposing forces. But Ellie thinks that in F1, they work in absolute harmony – that’s actually where part of the magic comes from – and so it’s being able to find and extract that content and essentially take it to you in formats that work for you in the right place at the right time, because you may not have two hours to sit down on the Sunday to engage and to watch an entire race but it doesn’t exclude you from wanting to be a fan of the sport and be able to connect with it. It just needs to be in a way that works for you.

One of the new parts of this mix of content is a new 10-part series that F1 commissioned Netflix to produce called F1 Drive to Survive.

Ellie explained that Netflix are experts at how to connect and tell long-form emotional stories and they’re the best in the business to do that with.


All previous shows of the series are available on the website and all podcast apps.

There is also a growing community on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.

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