Unofficially, the Cannes festival began on 14 June itself; the venue—Gutter Bar. And India already seems to have proven a point.
Over glasses of chilled beer, jury members from India chatted about how ‘India’ has a Viagra-like effect on their fellow jury members from all over the world. The questions range from work culture, creativity, and economy to places to visit. Everyone is excited about India and they all want to know more about the country. Well, it feels great to be an Indian at Cannes this year.
Officially, the festival started on Sunday. And among the host of seminars, two really stood out.
Peter Knapp (executive creative director, Landor Associates) delivered a powerful talk on how ‘Design drives desire’. According to him, we are living in a world where all products, ranging from washing machines and mobile phones to cars, look the same. And with consumers spoilt for choice, brands and products have to find answers on how they can grab attention and stand out. The answer—design. If executed well, Peter said that it is great design that helps build desire.
By citing the example of the iPhone, he explained how a well-designed product could create such a frenzy, desire and fan-following among consumers. However, he was critical about what people termed design. Not to be confused with style, he stressed how important it is for the design to be different, yet relevant. And that design, apart from aesthetics, also makes good commercial sense, as people are more than ready to pay a premium for a product that is well designed. As one of the consumers who bought an iPhone when it first released, I couldn’t agree more with him.
The second seminar was on a topic I wrote about in my previous article. Ian Hayworth, from Rapp Collins, spoke on how products move off the shelf not because of product benefits, but the values and beliefs attached to the brand. Advertisers have realized that if they can communicate their beliefs they will be able to attract loyal consumers who share the same beliefs.
A great example was the way Radiohead launched its new album only online, for consumers to download it by paying whatever they wanted. The album was a huge hit even commercially, as consumers all over on an average paid between $5 and $10. It was an open and honest vibe that this particular communication created that led to its success. Advertisers, however, were urged to be honest. Though it is easier to fake beliefs compared to product benefits, it is not easy to sustain a fake belief over time.
I ended the day knowing that great minds are at work ushering in change in the way we communicate, a change that will help creativity as well as prod businesses forward.
After an eventful day, another evening at Gutter Bar awaits. More on this tomorrow, along with more gossip and more madness from Cannes.
The author is national creative director, Leo Burnett India. Respond to this column at firstname.lastname@example.org