The Reception


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AI, GDPR and blockchain

Cannes Lions 2018 delivered on its promise to celebrate creativity and highlight challenges across the advertising industry. The conversations were full of energy and the excitement for the future was palpable. As always, topics for discussion were broad, including key subjects that have the potential to profoundly impact the industry. As I reflect on the week, a handful stand out: Blockchain, blockchain, blockchain (this is a good thing) Blockchain was the source of many heated conversations in the south of France this year. While there are critics, what stood out to me is the growth of the conversation surrounding the technology.  We strongly believe that we’re at the cusp of solving transparency issues with programmatic media buying with blockchain.

A canter to Cannes

Much in keeping with the reshaped Festival itself, my trip to Cannes this year was stripped back, intense, hugely enjoyable and ultimately informative and useful. Much has been written already about the invasion of the management consultancies (yes they were there in force, get used to it folks); whether there were too many or too few celebrities; is it only cause-related charity ‘stunts’ that win big and will Publicis Group ever return officially to the Festival? So rather than rehash these well-worn Cannes tropes, my take will be purely personal based on a whistle-stop visit. That said, on a strict 24-hour timetable it’s actually quite extraordinary how much one can cram in.

'Local' advantage

Amazon sells us goods. Google provides us access to information. Apple ensure a third of our waking time is spent looking at an iPhone. Facebook (or its subsidiaries Instagram or WhatsApp) facilitate our interactions with each other. These four corporations enable and influence much of our collective daily experiences. And corporations like these not only influence how we experience the world, but now rival and compete with states and governments for power.

2018 commended, HSBC

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is possibly the greatest business opportunity of the 21st century –presaging as it does, the rise of China to the world stage. It is the project to build the infrastructure that will connect China with the rest of the world, and thus stimulate global growth. With over USD8TRN of investment anticipated in Asia alone, it is also a vital opportunity for HSBC and its customers. But it’s also one that few had heard of and fewer understood. We set out to illuminate the opportunity for growth so that our customers and prospects could seize the opportunity. We created awareness and relevance on a global scale to C-Suite decision makers in a broad range of businesses. We set out to make ourselves The Oracle of BRI –the first port of call for everything BRI. This was (and continues to be) and huge and complex task. To engage a broad business audience across multiple countries; on a layered journey through awareness, to education, to sparking conversations that turn into action (and business for HSBC).

Deluded financial services

Whether you speak to a retail bank, private bank, asset management firm or insurance provider, they will all readily admit that their industry is struggling to maintain relevance with customers. This, they will tell you, is because theirs is a ‘low involvement’ category that customers don’t fully trust, and one that has been commoditised by price wars. But they will also tell you that their brand is doing just fine – relatively speaking – that awareness is high, perceptions are strong amongst existing customers, churn is manageable, and customer satisfaction is nothing to be worried about. Well, they are deluding themselves!

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