Cannes – a reminder that celebs need adland too



The Cannes Lions may have been full of celebrities this year, but that’s because they need brands, argues Profero’s Wayne Arnold

Having only been here for two days, I’ve already managed to soak up some of the glamour of Cannes, witnessing the media scrum around Sean Combs and (very nearly) bumping into Jack Black on La Croisette.

If 2012 was the year of the client, it seems 2013 may be the year of the hard working celebrity. Mel B has already been talking about bikini shots whilst Martha Stewart openly discussed the validity of tweeting whilst driving.

This is a marked difference from previous years where delegates were more likely to be captivated by Lee Clow riffing on creativity and brands’ ability to take risks than Sean Combs talking brand partnerships.

If you are being cynical, you might say that the ad agencies have got their cheque books out to make them sound more interesting, but actually it’s much more than that.

It is not that advertising and marketing just got sexy; the takeaway is that the industry is in a mad rush to create great and engaging content in this brave world of infinite access.

The role of the celebrity is not new in our industry but the role of true consistent celebrity integration is, and the short cut is obviously to simply throw money at it. Look what is happening to Psy who seems to be endorsing us to buy everything from make up to postage stamps.

P. Diddy cannesBut a far smarter way to harness the undoubted power of celebrity is to work in partnership with credible media brands. Take for instance Sean Combs, who has spent a great deal of time an effort on his personal brand, partnering with Diageo for his Ciroc vodka.

Credible and useful integration of this kind is hard to do, so more than ever the basic principles of alignment around business and consumer needs are vital to success.

In this new Cannes world the danger is that the ad men turn from idea creators to image consultants and agents, which is obviously a very sad place for our industry to end up.

The challenge for agencies is to remember that actually these celebrities need the industry just as much as we need them, hence the red carpet turn out here this week.

Creativity is still front and centre at Cannes, but this week it just got a little more glamorous.

Wayne Arnold is global CEO of digital agency Profero


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