Fashion industry can still learn from big winners at Cannes Lions

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You may well have already seen that Nike+ FuelBand scooped the biggest awards at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – a week-long event held in June celebrating the best in advertising from around the world.

A wristband that measures your everyday activity, it won the coveted Titanium and Cyber Grand Prix for the way in which it goes a step beyond technology and inspires consumers to act.

As Stefan Olander, vice-president of digital sport at Nike, said during the festival: “Technology is no longer remarkable, it’s what we do with it and how we do it that’s unique.”

That comment is a nice follow up to an article I wrote for the Huffington Post last year calling for the fashion industry to be more creative in their campaigns; to produce work worthy of winning at Cannes.

“Fashion – an industry with creativity at its very core – needs to shake off its seasonal collection focus and start thinking instead about campaigns built around big ideas,” it read.

Since then, there’s been a lot of innovation from brands and retailers, especially when it comes to technology; quirky Pinterest campaigns, multiple app launches and much play with augmented reality.

But, as essentially suggested by Olander (and in my Huff Po piece), there still needs to be less focus on technology for technology’s sake, and more on overarching campaigns that solidify brand purpose.

Paul Kemp-Robertson, editorial director at Contagious Communications, emphasised the same during Cannes: “Normal people don’t care about the technology, they care about what comes out of it: the experience.” He suggested marketers need to forget about the “dude we should…” philosophy; “dude we should do an app”, or “dude we should launch a QR code” for instance. There’s little benefit in becoming obsessed with doing something just because everyone else is, he explained.

Accordingly, it’s all very well launching on Pinterest, so too is it understandable to push out a seasonal video, but when those initiatives just end up as another example of products over ideas, it not only gets boring for the consumer, but ultimately unsuccessful in terms of ROI.

Some are doing it right. For one, the increasing focus on film has resulted in some outstanding creative work. The new Roman Polanski-directed short for Prada is a great example – despite the fact focus is so heavily on a jacket from the recent collection, the viewer is entirely distracted by the storyline.

I also love Dior’s Secret Garden Versailles spot; it fits beautifully with the image of the brand, even though strictly speaking it has little in the way of a tale to go with it.

The rest of the autumn/winter 2012/13 ads are also just starting to drop, so here’s hoping there’ll be more that push the envelope beyond the typical product focus of print imagery. Unsurprisingly, Burberry is already proving a great example with its multimedia campaign, celebrating both its brand and London through “imagery, film, music and weather”.

The question is, were any of them to be entered at Cannes, would they win? I for one would love nothing more than the likes of a Calvin Klein or Marc Jacobs or even a Chanel initiative sweeping the ceremonies at the Palais one day… here’s hoping.