Editor's Comment: Digital brands storm Cannes

Noelle McElhatton
Noelle McElhatton

This past week at those Oscars of the advertising world, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, a brand only 13 years old and not known for its big marketing budget surpassed giants such as Procter & Gamble and McDonald's to win the most awards.

Google's tally of gongs - its agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, as well as Google Innovations and Google Creative Lab take the plaudits - marked a week in which digital brands, all of them from the US, stormed the beaches of what was once adland's most self-reverential event.

They came to do business, of course. Needing to convince brands and agencies that their platforms take advertising seriously, Facebook and Twitter sent heavy-hitters to do the talking.

Facebook did so on stage, unveiling an advert-ising-friendly ad unit and a client council to help it get closer to marketers and their needs. Wendy Clark, senior-vice president, integrated marketing communications and capabilities at Coca-Cola, is one of its members.

Twitter was a more covert participant, with executives including Adam Bain, head of revenue, reportedly meeting with marketers and agencies on the periphery of the festival to showcase the site's latest advertising initiatives.

With so many senior 'digerati' around, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, that most keynote of keynoters, was just another face in the crowd.

Brand owners know their place in this fast-changing firmament. Unilever's chief executive, Paul Polman, summed up the clout of the digital establishment when he hailed 'the influence of media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Apple'. They possess power that should not be underestimated, he warned festival delegates.

As if we needed to be told.

Noelle.McElhatton@haymarket.com

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