Agencies may be wary of the tech companies who are taking over Cannes – but they are skilled at using digital platforms.

by Mark Tungate , Adforum

One of the most emblematic sights of what might be described as “the new Cannes” was the row of yachts leased by tech companies in the harbour next to the Grand Palais. Walk a little further, of course, and you could see entire beaches taken over by Google and Twitter. Pinterest had a sort of 21st century version of an arcade game on the Croisette.

Publicis Groupe boss Arthur Sadoun seemed particularly irritated this year by the branded Snapchat big wheel that almost blocked the view of the Palais itself.

But it seems that agencies have a love-hate relationship with digital media. They may be wary of the fact that these brands are dominating the advertising conversation and grabbing valuable chunks of Cannes real estate, but they have become masters at using them to reach consumers.

Take for instance “Like My Addiction” from BETC, which won no less than 19 trophies at Cannes. It featured a fake “influencer” on Instagram who attracted hordes of approving followers with pictures which – we very slowly realised – very often featured a glass of alcohol. In fact, her drinking became more serious as time went on, a fact that most of her 50,000 followers missed.


In fact it seems that agencies have become experts at subverting the “language” of social media. What about the “safety” check that we’re all, unfortunately, well aware of? For Black Lives Matter, J. Walter Thompson transformed it into an “unsafety check” to combat racism.


Naturally, although most of us use social media at one time or another during the day, a lot of these campaigns have a very specific target audience. For home improvements brand Lowe’s in the United States, BBDO turned to no less than four different social media platforms to reach– yes, you guessed it – millennials.


Turning away from the United States, one of our favourite Instagram campaigns came from Russia and revolved around the theatre. High culture met popular culture when approving comments on the accounts of theatre-loving Instagrammers were also quotes from well-known plays.


The number of campaigns that use Twitter in more less innovative ways have become impossible to count. But here’s a neat one for Accor Hotels, from Publicis Conseil, that gave new Twitter users “a warm welcome”.


Social media has also had a dramatic impact on how advertising films are shot. A number of agencies in Cannes told us that the future, as seen on mobile phones, is vertical. Here’s a nice spin on that idea for Ford from BBR Saatchi & Saatchi in Israel.


This also reminded us of a video for a Japanese pop group that was shot specifically for mobile, and also included lots of visual puns from that environment. It won an Epica Award in 2016. Check out the “native mobile music video from TBWA \ Hakuhodo.


Finally, just because it’s new and we like the guy, let’s take a look at Michel Gondry’s film “Détour”, from TBWA \ Media Arts Lab and, as the campaign slogan goes, “shot on iPhone”. Or maybe you’ve already seen it on social media?