Less than a decade ago, the creative work showcased at the Cannes Lions festival seemed to be more about technology than storytelling, in the mind of Y&R’s Global CEO, David Sable. But more recently, some of the work has been “spectacular” as the value of good storytelling has once again eclipsed tech.
During the same time period, user-generated content has taken a back seat to high-quality creative production informed by data insights that aren’t just focused on micro targeting audiences, Sable says in this interview with Beet.TV. He links the return of storytelling in part to the debunking of the “myth” that user-generated content on digital platforms would reign supreme.
“It’s a disaster because YouTube can’t monetize the cat peeing on your shoes,” Sable says. Some people thought user-generated content “was the greatest content in the world and maybe it got a million shares but frankly, who cares? Nobody wants to be associated with it.”
He describes the aspects of Cannes devoted to the creative craft “astounding” in the beautiful and smart work that derives from consumer insights. “You’re going to see data being used not just to micro target but being used to derive insights about audience and motivation and values so the work is smarter and better,” he says.
Discussing the impact that social platforms have had on the process, he points out that message length—be it 15, 30 or 60 seconds—is irrelevant. That’s part of the traditional network television construct in which advertisers paid for a certain amount of time. “The beauty is you don’t have to pay for the time in the same way that we did,” Sable says. “Do what you will.”
Another recent trend he sees, particularly on digital platforms, is advertisers being more up front about the messages they are delivering on their own behalf and who gets paid to deliver the messages. This extends to celebrities and other endorsers, some of whom got burned publicly by the ill-fated Fyre Festival on a Bahamas island, as Sable notes in an article on Huffington Post. “If they were in a commercial, you’d know they were paid and you’d take it for what it’s worth. To me that’s all fake news. Fyre was a major wakeup call for everybody in the industry for what you can and cannot do.”
Nonetheless, he says the advertising industry can prosper if it can only get beyond what he terms “digibabble,” the adoration of all things digital. “I’d be paying more attention to why Amazon is opening a physical store than I would to their algorithm,” he says.