The annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity brings together some of the most interesting and innovative minds from different industries – advertising and marketing agencies, social media and tech giants, business and entertainment personalities.
While we didn’t get to hang out with the likes of Al Gore, Kim Kardashian and Ira Glass in the French Riviera this time around, we have been checking out all the great content to come out of the festival. Here are a few of our picks for the most inspiring highlights from Cannes Lions 2015:

1. Connect with customers through content

David Shing (also known as “Shingy”), AOL’s digital prophet, gave a rapid-fire presentation at Cannes Lions about how brands can use storytelling to have authentic and intimate moments with their customers. Video, he emphasized, is not going anywhere. Generation Y users, in particular, are “freaky for video” and spend their time consuming media feeds. Some of Shingy’s insights from Cannes:

“It’s all about content. Nobody wants ads. And where it becomes fascinating to me is that 70 percent of people would rather read about a brand than be advertised to.”
“Creativity matters more than anything else. Creativity is ubiquitous like technology is now… there are creative storytellers telling you to put your safety seatbelt on in the US. There are storytellers that can craft 140 characters.”
“Technology used to create fragments, it used to separate us. Now it seems to fuse us together because you know all of these platforms are starting to settle in together and work in harmony.”

2. Personalize the ad experience.
Ross Hoffman, Twitter’s director of global brand strategy, spoke about how brands can use the social network’s new capabilities – such as Periscope and Vine – to create more sophisticated, personalized and often real-time experience for their customers. He gave an example of a recent marketing campaign from France’s telecom company Orange that used Periscope to broadcast a live date between two teenagers. Viewers shared in this interactive storytelling by helping to decide where the couple went and what they did.
3. Put the message into context.
“I love when advertising fits the context of the story we’re telling,” said Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel at Cannes Lions.
The mobile app company is just starting to develop its first advertising products, including brand-sponsored videos or location-based filters, which have exciting potential for brands looking for new ways to connect with younger customers.
4. Open up to virtual reality.

Google took home the Grand Prix award in the mobile category this year for Cardboard, a low-cost virtual-reality reader that is literally made out of cardboard. Customers can build the inexpensive reader themselves or buy it pre-made for a few dollars – in contrast to other virtual-reality devices that cost several hundred dollars.
Google cardboard gives “mobile new possibilities to really change behavior and have a huge impact on consumer life,” said Joanna Monteiro, VP-creative director at FCB Brazil and mobile jury president.
5. Build compassion online.

One of the surprising standout speeches at Cannes Lions came from Monica Lewinsky, who spoke candidly about her painful experiences with public shaming and humiliation 17 years ago, at the beginning of the online information era. She challenged advertising and marketing leaders to help break the cycle of cyberbullying and foster compassion and empathy online:

  • “This violation of others is raw material, efficiently and ruthlessly mined and packaged and sold at a profit. Whether tallied in clicks, likes or just the perverse thrill of exposure, a marketplace has emerged where shame is a commodity and public humiliation an industry.”
  • “Now we’re in a dangerous cycle. The more we click on this kind of gossip, the more numb we get to the human lives behind it, and the more numb we get, the more we click. All the while, someone is making money off the back of another’s suffering.”
  • “We can lead each other to a more compassionate, more empathic place. We can help change behavior. We can all learn from our mistakes and be more resilient. And we can, together, make a society where the sometimes distancing effect of technology doesn’t remove our fundamental humanity.”

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