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Why Creative Commerce Is Alive and Thriving in its First Year at Cannes Lions



From sustainability to entertainment to business transformation, creative commerce was at the heart of much of the winning work at Cannes Lions 2022, VMLY&R COMMERCE Dubai’s Leila Katrib tells LBB’s Alex Reeves

Why Creative Commerce Is Alive and Thriving in its First Year at Cannes Lions

The covid-19 pandemic has accelerated so much. And a renaissance of commerce in challenging times was one way in which businesses rapidly changed to accommodate new ways of living and new shopping pathways that we all, as consumers, are now exploring for the first time. 

That’s why this year, for the first time, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity announced a new category: ‘Creative Commerce’. Headed by Beth Ann Kaminkow, global CEO of VMLY&R Commerce as jury president, the new addition to the categories posed new debates for the industry.

At the end of the week in Cannes, LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Leila Katrib, creative director from VMLY&R COMMERCE Dubai, who had spent much of her week immersing herself in the work that was being celebrated in the Palais des Festivals, to reflect on what the first year of the Creative Commerce Lion meant for the industry moving forward.

Wingstop - Thighstop won the Creative Commerce Grand Prix at Cannes Lions 2022.

LBB> Why are you so keen to fly the flag for creative commerce this Cannes Lions?

Leila> The biggest problem is that most people don't know what creative commerce means. What's nice this year is that they launched the category of Creative Commerce, and there was a lot of talk. Our global CEO Beth Ann Kaminkow was the head of the jury. And she was giving a lot of talks and awareness about what creative commerce is. I feel like we all have to send that message across. There were cases that won awards from all across all agencies. Which is great, because that means all the agencies are moving towards that. 

That's what's great about it. Because honestly, if you think about it, creative commerce is any creative solution you come up with that drives conversions, that leads to that transaction – and that's what brands want. Creative commerce is no longer e-commerce. It's basically any channel, any time, any moment of the day where we can reach that audience to do that conversion or that purchase.

LBB> What are the best ways you’ve seen commerce given a great creative treatment by agencies this year?

Leila> The type of things that won Gold this year. You have sustainability. Sustainable commerce is a big conversation now. There was Smart Fill, which is about reusing old detergent packs and refilling it with Unilever detergent products. It’s a refill machine. It gives you a certain discount. And it just doesn't matter if you bring Tide or any other brand's bottle. It's all about sustainability and not wasting plastic. And this is instantly leading into that conversion or transaction. It's amazing, it's just another great solution to try to save a bit more or use less plastic or be more environmental. If all the brands start thinking this way it makes a big impact. 

On sustainability, there's so much great work that was done this year with simple ideas that make such a big difference. And I think adding that incentive or the commerce bit to it will incentivise people more.

LBB> It’s an exciting time. Like the Dole Sunshine Company and Ananas Anam campaign that won a load of Lions – Piñatex.

Leila> It's also beautiful. It transformed all business, not just one business. And it absolutely has commerce to it. It did win in Creative Commerce as well. People are already purchasing this leather. So just by that innovation of figuring out how to use the pineapple to make leather, that alone just changed the entire way of behaving. So it's not only sustainable, but it changed how we perceive products that we're purchasing. I think it's brilliant. 

That's the power of communication. Advertising can be used for good. What a great thing, how far they took it, to make a difference and to actually transform so many businesses. Getting brands to ride on that trend and really think more sustainable. It's just gonna make a big difference.

LBB> Apart from the sustainability conversation, what is influencing the best commerce work?

Leila> There's social commerce - everything on social media. Previously, it was just swipe up and swipe right to shop. Now, there's something else. There's another layer that TikTok brought to the table, which is entertainment. And entertainment is a big part of creative commerce. 

“TikTok made me buy it” is a massive trend. And here's the thing about it: It's just communities trying random things. It's not the brands speaking, it's the community speaking. And I think this is a very interesting angle because brands are no longer selling products. It's now communities selling engagement, experience or entertaining content that will eventually also drive the purchase. 

It happened to us in the office. TikTok was doing a little workshop with us. And they were telling us it's not just gen z; it's also 50-plus-year-old people. They showed us a video from someone with millions of viewers –  a 50-plus-year-old woman trying an eye cream. And all the girls in our office were like, “give us the name of the cream. What is this?” Because it was amazing. And we all bought it. We ordered, like, 50 eye creams. TikTok made me buy it. And anyone can do it. So it's communities. It's not just influencers.

What's amazing about TikTok is they identify these communities for you as a brand. And then also if you want influencers, they have the influencer marketplace. And then as an agency, you can just go to them and say 'here's an idea.' But it's more like an overarching idea. And then if you let the community let the influencer try to come up with content that will engage with their community and their audience. And we can brainstorm with them, but it has to be their tone of voice, it has to be authentic, culturally relevant. 

LBB> What are the priorities when getting creative commerce right?

Leila> We always look at like three Cs when we talk about creative commerce:

First, it has to be culturally relevant. It's always the most important thing because you want to be authentic, you want to be able to engage with your audience, you have to be relevant to them.

The second one is how it can be clever. So how do we make it as seamless as possible? There are so many amazing ideas this year, like Jersey Pay where you're using the jersey to pay for your beer. Minimum friction, right? So how do you make it as simple as possible? People love that. We're not creating any extra steps for them. And also using innovation to do that obviously plays a big role. 

And then the third one is, does it lead to conversion? Sometimes there's amazing ideas. I've seen film craft ideas that are so brilliant and I instantly start thinking how they could have added that conversion layer to it. Taking some parts of that film to create another story on social media which would then drive conversion? It should be in everyone's mind, right?

LBB> That's so true. There's so much craft that has potential to drive more conversions. Who are the people who can make that happen?

Leila> I think the more we spread awareness about the importance of creative commerce, the more conversion, because brands are on board. They want to sell. That's why I was so impressed with the number of entries we had in creative commerce as a category.

Also brands that don't usually think commerce are already doing that. Nowadays, everything's digital, everything's social. It's very easy to add that layer of conversion to that transaction.

And it's no longer shopper marketing, as we used to call it. Now I can be at the beach right now and make a purchase – anywhere. Brands have been hearing about it, agencies are hearing about it and they're already thinking about it, which was amazing. And I think this is the future of advertising. 

LBB> What else is exciting in this space now?

Leila> Gaming. Right now we're talking about how we can make even that conversion more gamified, more experiential. I've seen so many amazing case studies, brands like Burger King. So many other brands tapped into that conversion bit, even on gamification. So by tying up or collaborating with a certain game and then there's some kind of conversion there where you could purchase your burgers, like we see in Burger Glitch.

I think that's how to keep it as entertaining as fun and engaging. And less friction so that it's not too many steps that will just annoy the consumer. I think that's what's beautiful. I was really very happy with the work this year.

LBB> Where do you think there are other kinds of opportunities to really improve?

Leila> I think, honestly, everywhere. Social media is the easiest one, because even when you talk about film craft – even if you put it on YouTube, or you take pieces of it and put it on Instagram or whatever other social media platform - it's very easy to add the conversion bit, it's a very simple thing. That's film craft, but even when you talk about print, the number of times it's just as simple as adding a little QR code that you scan and it takes to the purchase. There's so many simple ways of doing this in any channel.

Augmented reality. We've done this with adidas – augmented reality shops that will eventually lead you to the e-commerce platform. So there's so many ways, and I think it has so much potential to explore new ways, because it's an untapped territory. All of these can have that little conversion layer that can just make it a lot more experiential or engaging or can drive that conversion. It's growing with all the technologies, so there's a lot to do with it. 

Nowadays, you can intersect consumers or users at any point. So even when they're watching the film, you could always add something with all these technologies, and then it drives us straight into conversion. You could be engaging on social media or doing some activation, and you can still make that purchase. So right now, having conversion at the heart of our thinking is actually something that brands are going to get excited about. It takes brand experience and customer experience with a conversion at its heart. I've seen brands and agencies do that in Cannes, without even thinking how we think of it at VMLY&R COMMERCE. We have our own loop that we talk about with different conversion points. But honestly, so many beautiful cases from across different agencies took that step beyond.

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VMLY&R COMMERCE UAE, Tue, 28 Jun 2022 14:51:11 GMT