Live from Cannes: Rebuilding trust through honest collaboration

live from cannnes 15-02

Simon Harwood, Head of Futures, writes about rebuilding trust through honest collaboration.

‘Accountability’, authenticity’, ‘trust’, ‘transparency’ and ‘honesty’ were the watchwords of day two at Cannes yesterday.

Jamie Oliver promised that if brands didn’t live up to these heightened expectations of trust, he would ‘come batter you’. While the leading content creators of YouTube bewailed the lack of trust brands sometimes place in them to deliver.  Any clients sat in the audience must have felt they were getting a right ticking off.

Richard Edelman’s talk highlighted consumer concern about the pace of technological change, greed and corporate profit, privacy concerns.

There does seem to be a general concern about over consumption. 60% feel pushed towards early obsolescence (which may explain some of the resistance around the Apple Watch). Edelman urged marketers to move beyond simply appealing to the new, and stated that innovation can’t be bought, it has to be earned

His view was that marketing should reassure first, then inspire – focusing on enabling consumer’s ‘peer voice’ as the most important priority.

Jamie Oliver re-iterated that trust is a currency in short supply when it comes to brands and urged brands to be honest and clear. It was clear his ire was directed at much of the food industry in particular.

One solution he proposed was how marketing can use their power as commissioners of content to restore the brand – consumer conversation.

He cited his Foodtube channel as an example of how to collaborate with brands in authentic ways and break new talent. He suggested that brands can get closer to what people really want by learning from such communities. For example he described how the FoodTube content has brought in a new audience of men who want quick ‘how to’ guides as they have shorter attention spans…

The opportunity to forge fresh customer dialogue through content was echoed by the YouTube creators down on Google Beach who urged brands to ‘just trust us’ to deliver. They reminded brands not to try to weave into this relationship under the radar. ‘The audience smells bullshit from 2 miles away’ as one channel creator succinctly put it. Better to say this is a brand plug which they are doing simply because they like this brand.

While brands were urged to be open minded about these opportunities, agencies were also given a slapped wrist. The agency needs to sell the client the authentic idea of what the creator brand is.

In summary, if brands want a more authentic, two way relationship with their consumers, then it looks like their agencies are going to have to find an open, honest way of collaborating with the content creators who might bridge the gap.

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