Brands can only chase new technologies for so long before they become mainstream. At that point, it’s creativity that matters.

It happened in the early days of television and it’s happening all over again, says Ari Weiss, North American CCO for DDB in this interview with Beet.TV in which he explains why he looks forward to the 2017 Cannes Lions festival with few expectations other than “to be surprised.”

With every new advertising medium, the creative work has tended to be “quite rudimentary” to begin with, according to Weiss, who was appointed to his role in late 2016 to run DDB’s 17 offices in North America, as Advertising Age reports. “It’s a very blunt instrument,” he says of early TV programming in which actors plugged dish soap.

Then came commercial pods within programs and more interesting ads, but the experience became mundane.

“Once the new innovation becomes commonplace, creativity is the only way to break out of that commonplace,” says Weiss. “You can use technology to be breakthrough but it has a short shelf life because it becomes, by definition, mainstream.”

What he’s seeing now is marketers embracing storytelling because of the pace of media innovation has become a side story. Brands are having a harder time sustaining and building long-term value from just chasing technology.

“They’re finding it from their story. What’s their role in the world? Why do they exist? How are they going to make the world better from their consumers?”

Consumers, meanwhile, “are looking for those stories again versus just kind of trendy tech innovations.”

Weiss perceives a renaissance in sight, sound and motion media because they are quick for the mind to process and are easily shared. It started with YouTube, where people could access things previously available only from such sources as America’s Funniest Home Videos.

As rigid commercial pods have yielded to unlimited storytelling formats, message duration is always a topic that’s front and center. At DBB, Weiss tells his creative team “Let’s not make stuff long to just make stuff long. Let’s make stuff long if it’s in better service of the idea.”

He rarely walks into the creative marketplace that is Cannes with “too much expectations.” He’d rather be surprised by the great thinking he invariably encounters.

“We go there to be surprised. We go there to come back with an insane amount of jealousy for what our friends at other places have done, because that’s what drives us,” says Weiss.

This segment is part of the Beet.TV lead-up to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. 2017. The series is presented by Storyful. For more from the series, please visit this page.

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