David Wilding’s view from Cannes – Day 3

Day 3 and, perhaps a little too late, I’ve established that the basement is the best place to hang out.

Seminars are streamed down here which means it’s easy to nip off and do something else if you’re stuck in a dud one, the masterclass space is down here (looking forward to a session called ‘why aren’t they buying my f***ing brilliant idea’ which is about to start) and there are Google smoothies to generally help keep you alive.

But most importantly (well second perhaps to being alive) there is more work to see down here than you could possibly have time to see. It’s like an art gallery for planning geeks. Gallery after gallery of interesting stuff.

In general the seminars have been a little hit or miss – they mostly contain one or two nice tweetable soundbites and a fair bit of filling. Interestingly the bigger names aren’t always the more engaging speakers and you genuinely don’t know what to expect until they start.

Today I’ve seen a very entertaining seminar from Warner Bros TV, a Guardian session with architect Zaha Hadid that was beset with technical problems and, somewhat surprisingly, lacked a bit of warmth and then stood very near that back of a Google masterclass on ‘project rebrief’ – a fantastic initiative to improve the quality of digital display advertising by asking the people behind classic campaigns such as ‘I’d like to buy the world a coke’ and ‘we try harder’ to reimagine the campaigns for today’s world and digital formats in particular.

Later today we have PHD’s seminar with Adam Morgan on challenger brands so I’ll try to pop back later with some thoughts on that but for now here are a couple of thoughts on the work I’ve seen.

Interestingly the stuff that catches the eye is often at either extreme of enormous big ideas at one end of the scale and brilliant nudges at the other.

A great example of an enormous idea came from Joe FM – a Belgian radio station which, rather than celebrating its own 3rd birthday, decided to celebrate the birthday of one of its listeners and create the “national surprise” party. They got his wife on side and then sent them out of the country for two weeks to somewhere with no mobile network or wifi signal. During which time they plastered images of him on TV, posters, press ads, everywhere asking people to come to his party. It was a huge idea that got absurd amounts of publicity and reminds me in many ways of the famous ‘best job in the world’ idea for Queensland tourism from a few years ago.

But as I say for every big idea there are several lovely nudges. I’ve seen plasters given to blood donors after giving blood with a QR code linking to videos of people who might receive the blood thanking them, I’ve seen a campaign to get people to reduce their font size by one in order to save paper and I’ve seen a wonderful idea from Mercedes in Hamburg where they asked people test driving their cars to deliver donations to charity shops rather than aimlessly driving around.

None of these will change the world overnight but all of them show brilliant thinking and are relatively easy to do.

Finally for now, congratulations to our cousins at MG OMD for winning the media grand prix for Google voice search. It’s a simple but beautifully told story and a brilliant case study in matching content to context.

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