Cannes Lions | Article
Adland Needs To Show A Little Respect

“We need to be more global and more local. Technology does not see boundaries across countries.” So said Unilever CMO Keith Weed at Cannes Lions 2016. But in order to do good business in new markets, we need to truly understand them — and that is where a number of big brands are still struggling.


For instance, cities in challenged economies are still enjoying huge growth in appetite for entertainment and culture; Lagos currently has the highest consumption of champagne per capita. Speaking in a panel on supercontinents and emerging markets, Cindy Gallop encouraged marketers to go to these urban centres and experience them IRL.

Gallop also notes that here at Cannes, Asian work tends to win less awards on the whole, as juries who are from predominantly Western backgrounds often can’t understand the message — there is simply too much of a cultural divide. The festival is founded upon a “faulty hierarchy,” she says, and considering the festival is intended to be a reflection and celebration of the very best work in the advertising industry, it poses some serious challenges for the future.

Piyush Pandey, Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather India, believes that the advertising industry needs to respect creativity at every level of class, and across differences in culture and language. How are you going to reach the growing Indian middle class if you don’t know the first thing about their lives, their habits, their social norms? In India as in numerous other markets, the mobile web is driven almost entirely by feature phones, as connectivity makes smartphone ownership cost-prohibitive; this will mean a whole new array of consumption behaviour that marketers will have to learn.

“If there’s too much hegemony, then the product doesn’t feel like it has layers,” says comedian Keegan-Michael Key. It’s a theme that has come up again and again in panels throughout the week; that for all our talk of diversity and representation, too often this industry fails to respect its audience.

“Instead of just trying to reach a demographic, include people from that demographic in the process,” says Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Founder of, adding that consumers always know when they’re being “sold to” rather than genuinely included.

Shane Smith remarked earlier this week that one of the reasons VICE is so popular with younger media consumers is that its journalists look and sound like them, and perhaps more importantly, share the same concerns and perspectives. International brands, take note.

Ultimately, to paraphrase Keith Weed and his statement; we have to be global in our intentions, and hyper-local in our respect.

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