The Convergence of B2B and B2C at Cannes Lions

Two sessions that provide a glimpse into how the marketing world will change in the next decade

June 24, 2015

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Historically, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been all about consumer advertising. But that is beginning to change. This year’s edition of the festival is full of signs that B2B marketing is becoming more visible at the event.

For one thing, B2B marketers have a significant promotional presence at Cannes Lions. B2B marketers such as Marketo, Microsoft, and Workfront have highly visible marketing presences at the week-long event in Cannes, France. LinkedIn is also a Cannes Lions sponsor.

In addition to B2B’s heightened promotional presence at the event, the content of the Cannes Lions sessions pointed to the convergence of B2B and B2C. Read on for takeaways from two seminars in particular that delivered insights that could be applied equally to B2C and B2B marketing.

Have Idea, Will Travel

First, in “Have Idea, Will Travel,” Syl Saller, CMO, Diageo; Mike Schalit, chief creative officer of BBDO South Africa; and Lara Balazs, head of North American marketing for Visa, shared their marketing experiences from around the globe. The panel pointed out that the planet’s population will reach 8 billion by 2030, which will only make global market more important. And while international marketing is important for consumer marketers, it’s important in B2B, too. Manufacturing has thrived in China and elsewhere overseas, and now China is fostering competitive technology companies such as Alibaba and Lenovo.

Among the advice the panel offered: “Pack light, pack tight.” With this advice, they counseled streamlining your marketing message to take it global. When crafting your global marketing message, Valais said it’s not about creating a “wish list.” Instead, she said, “It’s about what you cannot live without.” The panel said this focus on a streamlined message helped Snickers develop its “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry campaign,” which runs in scores of countries.

Another key piece of advice from this panel: “Biology trumps geography.” In other words, the consumer’s humanity is more important than local concerns. To speak to a consumer’s humanity, marketers – B2C and B2B – should focus on three elements: storytelling, visuals, and simplicity. Great stories, whether it’s by Tolstoy or J.K. Rowling, play across cultures, the panel said. Visuals, too, are universal. Especially in a mobile world, copy-heavy messages won’t be as impactful as images. And finally, make the message easy to grasp.

Toolkit for Transformation

Second, in the seminar, “Toolkit for Transformation,” Ray Velez, chief technology officer of Razorfish, and Will Sansom, director of content and strategy at Contagious Insider warned that the rate of change in marketing will only continue to increase: “Technology breeds technology, and innovation breeds innovation,” the pair said.

Change is hitting both B2C and B2B. In B2B, the change is evident in the rise of marketing automation in particular and of the marketing stack in general. Velez and Sansom offered what they called “four big hairy provocations” on how the marketing world will change in the next decade:

4 Ways the Marketing Landscape Will Change

  • In the future brand loyalty will become extinct. Velez and Sansom said changing products is easier than ever. This is especially true in B2B software, where software as a service models means that companies can change software in days (or even minutes) rather than in months.
  • The unconnected world will need connecting. Despite the rapid adoption of the Internet, 4.2 billion people will still be unconnected by 2017. The pair sees the unconnected as a huge opportunity. (It’s also apparent that many of those who are unconnected will first become connected via mobile).
  • Great brand experiences will be liberated from our screens. Connectedness isn’t only about screens. Velez and Sansom noted that medicine bottles can communicate to pharmacies and doctors about the usage of pharmaceuticals. This type of communication may be even more critical in B2B where jet engines and production lines can deliver messages about maintenance and production.
  • In 10 years’ time, your agency will be an algorithm. Many elements of marketing will become automated, the pair say. Big data will have an outsized impact on ad agencies and marketers.

As the pace of marketing change accelerates, Velez and Sansom said that marketers will need to be “comfortably uncomfortable” will all of the transformation take place around them. B2B marketers will also have to be comfortable becoming more like B2C. And vice versa.

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