Cannes Prevents Agencies from Getting Insular, We have No Need for ‘Marcel’ – Lurkin
Fran Luckin, Chief Creative Officer at GREY Advertising, South Africa, fielded questions with BrandCrunch on Grey Africa’s recent feat at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. In this interview, Fran touches on the Cannes Festival brand, ebbing marketing spend, next phase in marketing and Publicis Groupe’s decision to pull out of Cannes Festival next year and embrace AI ‘Marcel’ among other issues.
Congratulations on Grey Africa’s success at Cannes Lions Awards. How does this affect your system and operation?
I think it’s an affirmation that the systems we put in place a year ago, in order to elevate the standard of our creative work, have been effective. It’s great to win but it’s important not to get complacent. So we’re not going to let this go to our heads – we’re going to keep on pushing to make our work even better.
Duracell is a great brand, a global brand, with a very strong heritage. It’s a great brand to work on and I was glad to be able to deliver them a Gold Lion.
What is the story behind the award winning work?
The copywriter on the job was fascinated by the fact that Duralock batteries can last up to ten years in storage. He did some research into how different the world was ten years ago and found it amazing how much had changed so quickly. He sat and wrote down as many things he could find that existed ten years ago and don’t exist now – and there were lots. Then we chose the funniest or most interesting examples and put them into scripts. We recorded pilot versions using the copywriter himself as the voice over – just so we could make sure we got the delivery and the comic timing just right. Only when we were happy with that did we go into studio with a professional voice artist.
One critical factor in winning at this level is packaging your entry, how did you ensure this?
There’s less packaging that has to be done in radio because you don’t enter a case study video – you just enter the campaign. So you just do everything you can to make sure the production of the ads is as polished as possible.
Okay, what are the landmines to guide against in awards of this nature?
The biggest danger is rushing the production of a piece of work in order to meet the deadline. To win at Cannes you really need to craft the work. Which takes time, and care.
Usually, people talk about politics of the awards to win at this level, is it real or just a myth?
The Cannes judging system has pretty stringent checks and balances in place to prevent block voting and vote rigging. I think the strongest proof of the robustness of the process is that the best work always comes to the top. All the judges are aware of the weight of the responsibility they bear and they all take it seriously.
Your rival group, Publicis Groupe is pulling out of the next Cannes Lions Festival, what is your take on this action?
It’s every agency’s prerogative to decide whether to enter the awards or not. They may have decided to take a different strategic focus for the coming year, and that’s something they’re entitled to do.
Is the Cannes Lions Festival truly too expensive and losing its essence? Why and how?
It’s not cheap to enter work, especially for us because the entry fees are in Euros. But Cannes is still the largest, most global, most credible awards show in the world. It’s a global platform which showcases the world’s best work and it’s still THE award to win.
With this award, what is the position of GREY Africa on the continent?
Well, we always say we’re an established agency that still thinks like a start-up. So we never look at what we’ve achieved and get complacent. We’re always looking ahead.
Where do we go from here, is GREY Africa considering anything similar to Publicis Group’s AI Marcel? or you think no need for such?
We don’t see any need to take a step like that. Visibility at Cannes is one of our strategic priorities. It’s good to see how well you stack up against the best work in the world. It prevents us from getting insular.
What are GREY Africa’s three key interests in the Nigerian market, what are the things you want to achieve in the market?
The GREY Africa Group is perfectly positioned to complement the CentrespreadGREY Group in the region, allowing it to extend its scope way beyond what a solitary, unattached agency could provide, logically expanding the established ad networks’ regional representation and provide the necessary critical mass. Having a winning Nigerian Agency Group in the network ensures we are both able to successfully provide a fully integrated service, earn an increasing share of the available brand marketing budgets, especially at a time that brand marketers/ advertisers are discovering that it’s the ad-networks that consistently deliver better results.
What is the next phase of marketing communications considering the ebbing marketing budgets?
With marketers and brands under huge pressure for sales in a global recession, more spend is going to go towards the kinds of things that deliver highly targeted communication at a low cost and that can generate leads: programmatic marketing, marketing automation and smart SEO. I do think there will still be a role for great brand work though. Without a compelling story and a coherent brand narrative, brands will still run the risk of being lost in the proliferation of channels.