Jul 09, 2012 • By

Cannes and social campaigns

As the director of Marketing Excellence at General Mills, it is my job to look for best-in-class campaigns that we can learn from and that can inspire our marketing teams.

Last year was my first year going to Cannes, France, for the International Festival of Creativity. From that trip, I was able to solidify four speakers for a series that we do each month at our headquarters, called “1st Wednesday.“

That list includes Sir John Hegarty, Martin Lindstrom, Arianna Huffington, and our new Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest friend, Martha Stewart. You may have read about the events with Huffington and Stewart here on A Taste of General Mills.

The Cannes Lions Festival is an amazing, six-day event that showcases global thought leaders and breakthrough campaigns from around the world.

This year, the event hosted senior executives from companies such as P&G, Coke, Unilever, Kraft, Google and Visa. Cannes also showcased agency thought leaders from Landor, Ogilvy, BBH, Wieden + Kennedy, to name a few. Former President Bill Clinton was also one of the guest speakers who spoke to a full house.

This year, there were more than 11,000 people in attendance.

There were more than 34,000 campaigns and creative initiatives submitted and reviewed for the hopes of winning one of the coveted Cannes Lions Awards. Award categories included: Film, Press, Outdoor, Media, Design, Mobile and Public Relations.

I was thrilled to see General Mills win three awards; a Bronze for Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks’ Cocoon campaign, and two Gold Lions for Nature Valley’s Trail View initiative (one of those was for the first ever Branded Content & Entertainment Lion).

While I was at Cannes, I participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by PRWeek. I was honored to be with some great panelists, including people from Microsoft, Google, Unilever and Weber Shandwick.

(This screen shot is from a video in PRWeek’s coverage of the event. Check out their slideshow for more photos.)

The title of our discussion was, “Is the Campaign Dead?” As you can read from some of the coverage of the panel, my answer to this question is a strong “no.”

Campaigns will survive because people will always want information on products that can hopefully solve a problem for them. How we market or communicate with consumers will evolve with all the new technology that is provided for us.

We no longer have the one-way monologue where we inform consumers of what we have to offer, but now we have a two way dialogue – where consumers can tell us what they want, and we can continually get feedback from them on how we can make our products better.

Overall, the week at Cannes was extremely informative, inspiring and exhausting.

Our group attended seminars from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and then came back again to watch the award ceremonies in the evening.

Although it was hard to get used to eating dinner at 10 p.m., we all managed to survive the week!

What award winners at Cannes caught your eye? Tell me about it in the comments below.