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ARF Brings You Cannes Lions 2015

Big Data is Nothing Without Creative Fusion

Our interviews at Cannes today were as unique as each spot we filmed: from our beachside conversation with Kathleen Hall of Microsoft, to our enlightening chat with Keith Reinhard in the iconic Ritz-Carlton, we learned that the industry leaders agree in their predictions for the year ahead: the media model is changing, and big data is nothing without creative fusion.

Kathleen Hall, Corporate VP Global Advertising & Media, Microsoft explained that really great advertising is about a connection—whether emotional, humorous or intellectual—which can never be achieved using Big data alone.

“I don’t think I want to live to see the day where we formularize what we know people’s brains and hearts are going to do, and create to that.”

In a year, she predicts that we’ll be talking more about case studies where an application of data made a difference as opposed to exploring the significance of data sets alone. Real-time information is a powerful way to make quick, creative decisions that will continue to forge relationships with consumers.

Microsoft’s major shift in marketing strategy was to focus less on themselves and their messaging and more about the people who use their products in world-changing ways. “That is a great human story,” exclaimed Hall.

However, on delivering that message: “The media model right now is a little broken.” We discussed that agencies’ personalities have settled more toward a common denominator as opposed to exhibiting great strengths and weaknesses in particular areas. Kathleen looks forward to seeing a shift back to differentiation on the agency side that caters toward what they excel at within their personal brands.

With technology’s current pace, Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus, DDB Worldwide agreed that the media model needs realignment. Researchers now have at their dispense an array of amazing tools which supposedly should make the job of connecting with the consumer easier. Thinking more holistically in terms of media and identifying the values of a brand will spark the idea that will attract, engage and connect a consumer and make a brand famous across all audiences.

“The media strategy and the creative strategy have to be reintegrated.”


John Vein, Co-Founder & CEO of Marketshare observed that people don’t just live in the online world or just the offline world, and the fusion between the two behaviors is fascinating from a data perspective. Although measurement is better than it has ever been, putting together analytics that replicate the way people consume media and activate brands is essential.

Happily, it’s the Researcher’s time to shine, as the C-Suite is now more than ever appreciative of the importance of harnessing rich data to correct the course of work in real time.

Overall, John predicts that the whole approach of analytic-driven decisions is here to stay.

Tom Buday, Head of Marketing and Consumer Communication, Nestle had a prediction closely echoing Kathleen’s thoughts: A year from now, our industry will be less focused on proving a return on investment of platforms, and more about understanding the drivers of return on investment. To ultimately improve performance, these learnings will need to be funneled through the network organizations.

“For me, there are only two kinds of marketing people and two kinds of agencies. Those that know how to communicate and build brands in the world we live in and those that don’t.”

Aptly put, Tom explained that once the brand messaging is aligned, the responsibility of research marketers is to identify when and where consumers are spending their time—and most importantly—when and where those consumers are receptive to the brand message.


We were surprised to learn that Jeffrey Graham, Global Ad Research Director, Twitter obtained his Master’s Degree in studying the sociology of the Internet but it truly made sense when he shared that his greatest motivation has been to have a hypothesis about the future.

Jeffrey predicts that the intersection between technology platforms, data and content will create omnivorous researchers who will be able to ask good questions, to answer those questions, and to translate the answers into products that motivate good business decisions.

Big data deserves to be broken down into many different things, like behavioral advertising data or conversational data. Efficiency is a question that deserves our attention: researchers need the right resources and creative thinking to understand insights that can be packaged up to create persuasive messaging.

“Creativity has to be put in the hands of people to create things that are widely distributed.”