Cannes Lions Direct jury president and FCB’s global chief creative officer on the nuances of the Direct category, data and the #MeToo movement
As the global chief creative officer of FCB, Susan Credle is one of the highest profile creative leaders on the many that will be filling the Cannes jury rooms next week with deliberations on the best creativity in the world. Rather than just putting advertising ‘out there’ and hoping that people will engage, the Direct category is defined by Cannes Lions as “targeted direct communication designed to generate response or specific action whilst building and prolonging relationships.” As technology has advanced, that definition has broadened from websites or phone numbers engage with specific people in new and innovative ways.
LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Susan to find out how she will be guiding her jury and what she’ll be looking for from the best Direct campaigns.
LBB> How are you preparing for the jury room this year?
SC> Looking at hundreds of case studies before we even arrive in Cannes is a good exercise. Seeing Direct entries prior to walking into the jury room means I start with an understanding of where the work needs to be. This will make for a tighter shortlist and a stronger show. Also, I’m fortunate to know many of the people on the Direct jury, personally or by reputation. I have incredible respect for them and can’t wait for the conversation to begin.
LBB> What are you looking for in a great Direct campaign, as compared to other categories?
SC> Someone said to me a few months ago, “if it’s in your category, you should just judge whether the work is great or not; the fact that it is in Direct means it’s already qualified as a Direct idea.” That would make it simple. But I believe we should not only recognize great creativity, but that awards should also go to the purest Direct ideas. For me, this means the idea works because it is directed at a specific group of people rather than a mass audience. The idea must have a response mechanism. In the past, this has typically been a website or a phone number. Today, the response mechanism might be the most interesting part of the idea. There are so many incredibly creative ways to call people to action. And finally, unlike many traditional media juries, Direct must take into account the results.
LBB> What are the traps or pitfalls that direct marketing often falls into that you'll be wary of in your deliberations?
SC> I expect an interesting discussion around the line between social and direct. I also believe we must be open-minded about the response mechanism. If we are too myopic, we will miss the future of this part of our business. And, as always, we must be skeptical of “results.”
LBB> What are trickiest elements of Direct to judge?
SC> Figuring out the difference between a Direct idea, a Social idea and an Activation idea. I am sure that at times, an idea could be all three.
LBB> What factors do you feel have affected the category in the past year and how will you and your jury deal with them?
SC> I’m not sure if there have been specific factors this past year. I do believe we have continued to see categories like Direct go from a below-the-line, hard-working piece of creative to a place in communication where creativity is breaking new ground. Data and digital assets have allowed us to take direct to mass levels without the massive cost.
LBB> Last year's Direct Grand Prix was the incredible Google Home of the Whopper. Is there anything about that idea that you'll be looking for in entries this year?
SC> DAVID found a brilliant way to hijack Google Voice Search. When you see an idea like this, it screams “Award me!” because that team was the first to go there. It seems so simple, once someone has connected the dots. I’m excited to look for that “I would have never thought to do that” idea. Beyond understanding how to use technology to their advantage, this work also showed us a brave client. When people started to troll the Burger King Wikipedia page, they didn’t panic. When Google lost its sense of humour, Burger King didn’t. Novelty and bravery are a powerful, award-winning combination.
LBB> The transcendent ‘big’ ideas are relatively easy enough to spot, but some work is smart in a more nuanced way, for example work that plays on the subtleties of a particular culture. When you’re leading a jury, how do you give space to these ideas in the jury room?
SC> FCB has a piece like this from our India office. At the first few shows of the year, juries missed it. I was on a jury and watched as the jurors’ eyes glazed over. I felt bad for the piece. But it has picked up steam, as people realize the incredible impact it is having on the patriarchal society of India. This is why having a diverse jury is so important. However, we also must empower people to speak up without fear of being labeled a nationalist. I think a good jury chair encourages – or, in some cases, demands – that the people closest to a specific culture to speak up.
LBB> Obviously, you’re going to spend a lot of Cannes 2018 locked inside for jury deliberations… but is there any event or talk that you’re hoping to catch while you’re there?
SC> Unfortunately, I have had to RSVP my regrets to so many interesting gatherings and talks this year. We start on Sunday and finish Thursday evening. I will put in a plug for FCB’s Thursday session at 2:45pm featuring Levi’s Global CMO, and author of Chalked Up, Jen Sey and #metoo founder Tarana Burke. Friday, I’m looking forward to hanging out with the FCB creatives from around the world. Cannes is the New Year’s Eve of advertising. We will take some time to reflect on the past year and set some goals for next year. And hopefully, leave Cannes motivated to bring our clients the best thinking possible next year.
LBB> Outside of the jury room, what do you think will be the big talking points of Cannes 2018?
SC> I believe there will be #metoo conversations. And I’m sure we will continue to hear about data and analytics. The GDPR in Europe will create a new chapter when it comes to data. “Freedom to know” and “right to privacy” have just started to wrestle each other. Also hope we hear some strong conversation about the incredible value of creativity.