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Cause fatigue, a Cannes Lion, Going West + What you really, really want...

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It been a busy week at H+K and as we see our journey of change reflected in new type of work being won and completed, winning Cannes Lions outside PR category and hit the mid point of the Cannes Lions week, it is an interesting time to reflect.

Going West
This year more than ever it feels that there is a greater Chinese presence here in Cannes; every time you log in at the Palais you are presented with the Tencent welcome screen, WeChat is buzzing with questions from clients and some of our Chinese clients were in attendance for the first time.

Last week we shot a film in Shanghai as part of a larger integrated campaign launching later in the year in China and then coming West. The ambition and drive of our Chinese clients to build business in the West and their willingness to buy the best ideas feels like it will soon be better reflected in the work at Cannes.

One of the interesting conversations that we are having with our clients in China as they expand into the West is around purpose or what we could call ‘Future legacy.’ Perhaps one of the most inspirational moments of the last few days was when a client said to us, ‘I want to heal the wounds of world. I just want to start with energy.’ Suddenly, the work we do seems somewhat more important.

Future Legacy
In Cannes this year there has been the debate around the amount of cause related work leading the term ‘Cause Fatigue’ being used.

One of the most fundamental conversations that we can have with our clients is around purpose or what we would frame as ‘Future legacy’. As companies move into a purpose driven age and the expectations of businesses in the eyes of their audiences, the question of what is their ‘future legacy’ becomes more important. What are they to leave to the world, the next generation beyond making or providing products and services?

This question seems to have been somewhat hijacked by some brands ‘acquiring’ a cause linking their campaigns to it. While highlighting any good cause is a noble thing it feels as though it needs to be more fundamentally linked to the clients purpose to avoid ‘Cause Fatigue.’

Business to human
Cause Fatigue was not a problem in the seminar called ‘The Power of Cinema to Drive Cultural Change’ with Sir John Hegarty, Steve Golin, Lawrence Bender, Jason Solomons and Claudia Gonzalez from UNICEF.

During the talk they premiered #WhatIReallyReallyWant, an ad remake of Spice Girls’ Wannabe music video. It reflects the voices of girls and women all over the world, telling world leaders what goals they ‘really really want’ to be achieved to help improve their lives.

A beautiful piece of work highlighting Sustainable Development Goals agreed in 2015. Claudia Gonzalez perfectly described the reason why this work was so important, ‘this is not my agenda, this is our agenda. This is our planet, we have no planet B.’

This campaign is a great example of the rise of B2H (business to human) campaigns that again have been on the rise in Cannes – campaigns that talk to us on a human level rather than as businessman, government official or part of a trade body. At H+K we have been using our B2H philosophy to great effect with all clients and have stopped talking about B2B or B2C campaigns. We believe communications need to engage with us as human beings – to do this most effectively it means brands need to have a point of view. This point of view will alienate some but make fans of others.

This was demonstrated perfectly in our Cannes Lions winning work in the Mobile Lions category for Adidas. The work launched on Valentines Day and presented a point of view on Love. It started a conversation and delivered a point a view.

*Adidas 'Valentines Post'

Changed and changing
As we reflect on the past few days at Cannes, conversations with new and old clients and continue our journey of change at H+K it feels as though it is a very exciting time to be in the communications industry. If we look forwards rather than backwards we have the opportunity to define our own ‘future legacy’ within the industry and redefine our agency as the canvas to allow you to write your own story.

Simon Shaw is the Chief Creative Officer at Hill+Knowlton Stratgies and Global Center of Creative Strategy.

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