Sean Bryan can’t wait to get to the Cannes Lions festival this year. And it’s not just because he has high hopes for McCann New York’s groundbreaking Fearless Girl campaign and its work for brands like Godiva, Microsoft and Nespresso.
“I love it every year. But this year in particular is going to be an interesting year,” says the agency’s Chief Creative Officer.
One reason for his enthusiasm is that he believes “creativity in advertising is reaching new heights,” Bryan explains in this interview with Beet.TV. “I actually think the industry is better at doing what really matters than we’ve ever been, at least in my time.”
He points to the rise of long-form storytelling and the impact it can have on cultural conversations. It all starts with being able to determine who will be watching such messaging and what they’re going to be interested in.
“If you want to hold somebody’s attention for two minutes, three minutes or even longer you need to be telling them a story providing some news, some information that is going to be rewarding to them,” says Bryan. “It’s a different kind of storytelling.”
He’s not suggesting that traditional 30- or 60-second commercials cannot command consumers’ attention, citing an effort for Nespresso coffee machines starring George Clooney and a host of actors from classic films. “As a sixty it’s fantastic because you really get to enjoy all the great scenes from all the great movies we wanted to see growing up,” Bryan says.
In terms of cultural impact, McCann New York touched off considerable debate when it helped client State Street Financial Advisors install a bronze sculpture of a defiant-looking young Latina woman dubbed Fearless Girl directly in front of the iconic Charging Bull on Manhattan’s Wall Street.
“I could have put together a miniseries about that thing and what it did in the world,” Bryan says. “That’s what’s really exciting. You have these ideas and then to actually see what happens when people see them and interact with them and how they impact the conversation around, for example, women and finance.”
Then there is the agency’s campaign for Lysol, a venerable brand that has traditionally existed in the functional as opposed to emotional mode. It involved an installation under the landmark Brooklyn Bridge about how “mothers in nature are the biggest bad asses there are,” he says.
“We are talking to people about stuff they care about. We’re making brands matter and making them relevant in peoples’ lives. And we’re doing it in different way.”