Talon in Cannes: Creativity, Collaboration and the Need for Change

Talon’s Out-of-Home Highlights & Call for Change

Laurie McAllister, our Head of Marketing, reflects on highlights from Talon’s activity in Cannes

After a two-year pandemic-enforced hiatus, thousands of people from across the media and advertising industry packed their suitcases and headed to La Croisette for a week of celebrating creativity in all its glory at Cannes Lions.

The awards and core-programme pull in a worldwide audience, and the fringe events even more. Talon set up camp at LBB & Friends Beach to fly the flag for Out of Home, placing our favourite medium in the heart of the conversation.

With so much to cover, I’ll leave the complete overview to Campaign who have shared a fantastic roundup of Cannes 2022 as well as a more in-depth look at the winners. And for now, zone into Talon’s highlights from our events and exploration at Cannes this year. 

Creativity in Out of Home

We kicked off on Tuesday with a live ‘Behind the Billboard’ podcast recording, hosted by Grand Visual’s Dan Dawson and Hugh Todd, sponsored by Talon. Unlike anything they’ve ever done before – and with only a few minor technical hiccups – Hugh and Dan chatted to some of the industries finest: Daniel Fisher – ECD Ogilvy, Keka Morelle – Wunderman Thompson Sao Paolo, and Sanjiv Mistry – ECD at McCann London, about all things creativity and Out of Home in Cannes 2022.

Sanjiv Mistry was the man on the ground, live from the Cannes judging room, giving behind the scenes insight into this year’s winners, how and why the Adidas ‘Liquid Billboard’ swept the board including winning the Grand Prix. Described as a “confluence of brand, purpose and product”, Sanjiv explained “one of the reasons it was a standout piece for us as a jury was, we saw a lot of purpose-driven work, as has been the dominant trend in the last decade or so, but this wasn’t just purpose – it showed a particular cultural insight and was product-driven as well, launching a new range of swimwear in the Middle East.”

The Adidas billboard was seen as a fantastic example of Out of Home’s unique ability to connect with people in real life, with “outdoor you always want to connect with your audience, there’s no better way to connect with your audience than literally having your audience participate and becoming part of your key visual”. We particularly enjoyed the discussion of the campaign extension, including the live stream of the campaign to DOOH alongside user-generated content “outdoor upon outdoor upon outdoor”.

This year, the UK only saw one bronze in the Outdoor Lions – and the podcast covered this too, questioning whether the entries were a true reflection of the work happening in the UK: “In Cannes, it’s a certain kind of work that gets through – it must appeal to an audience of global jurors. And certain work that we love in the UK doesn’t always make it to the global stage.” On what it is about UK work that doesn’t always land, the panel shared “a combination of jurors not being familiar with the brands and not being familiar with the insight”.

With approximately 2000 entries in the Outdoor section, and even more overall, the competition is fierce. No winners for Talon this year, although our work for Specsavers with MGOMD was shortlisted in the Media Lions. So how do you win? The panel had some advice: “the work that does win awards is when you are not thinking about it.”

It’s all about impacts that make an impact too, a big focus for us at Talon. “Try and do stuff that impacts the client’s business. We are in the business of trying to grow our clients, … what impact are you trying to achieve?” – Daniel asked – “if you are doing work that genuinely has an impact on the client’s bottom line or reputation, I think that’s a good start.” Keka added that when she sits in the jury room, she is “trying to find the real view of people and the brand activation”. Combining measurement with creativity to demonstrate the business value of your Outdoor campaigns is a great place to start.

The podcast also discussed moving away from pandemic-focussed creativity, nominated their favourite Cannes Lion winning billboards, chatted about the most memorable Cannes stories, and how much they love Out of Home. Give the full podcast a listen to brighten up your commute or pre-work morning walk.

Collaboration & growing Out of Home market share

The Out of Home industry were out in force in Cannes, with media owners, OOH agencies and OOH industry bodies showcasing and celebrating the creativity and innovation OOH delivers.

Our Group CEO Barry Cupples joined DPAA’s CEO Barry Frey for a fireside chat to discuss how the OOH industry needs to come together to move forward and how talking to clients about the value equation can get us there.On the power of OOH, he said “Out of Home should be taking the cake and not crumbs off of the table”. He encouraged the industry to rise to the challenge, a key focus for Talon moving forward as we work to grow OOH’s market share and showcase the value it can provide.

He also emphasised the social amplification opportunities of OOH, “what can social and OOH achieve together? End-to-end solutions, with creativity being the significant part.” Showcasing the amplification potential of OOH, the Specsavers campaign (that was shortlisted for a Cannes Lion) went viral – within hours of being posted organically by the public, images of the campaign picked up millions of likes and shares on social media. This added-campaign extension is unique to OOH and adds to the medium’s value proposition. 

The Need for Change

Finally, at the centre of many fireside chats, hosted sessions and private conversations was the need for more diversity and inclusion at Cannes. Cephas Williams, founder of The Black British Network, led this conversation in the build-up to Cannes with his fundraising campaign to take at least three black creatives to the event. 

Across the week, many discussions were hosted – with the overwhelming factor that more needs to be done and promises that have previously been made need to be kept. Patrick Campbell, from PATCAM, chaired a conversation between our CEO Barry Cupples and Cephas Williams at LBB Beach – centred on the question: two years on from the murder of George Floyd, have leaders kept their promises? This powerful conversation showcased Cephas’ mission of systemic change and the need for real transformation:

Cephas: “The agenda here is systemic change. How do we increase parity and equality? We made a promise that we don’t want to live in a world like this anymore. What do we all individually need to do to see the world that we all want to live in to manifest?”Barry: “We need to regain the momentum we had two years ago. It’s still unjust. Everyone has to hold hands and move things forward together. Cephas needs the support of the industry. We must all do better.”

As my closing thought, and a legacy of this year’s Cannes, I urge everyone reading this blog to read Letter to Zion now and consider what you can do to increase equality both personally and in the businesses you work for.