#CannesLions day six: Serial addiction, data with F1 and childlike innovation

The final day of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the WGSN team was a combination of storytelling, data and playful creativity, with a handful of final speakers in the main auditorium and an exploration of new technologies and big ideas in the Lions Innovation sessions.

Ben Jones, CTO of AKQA

1. Bingeworthy journalism
For those who don’t know, Serial is a 12-part podcast that explores the murder trial of an 18-year-old from 1999. It was an enormous viral success – now at over 90 million downloads. Better than that, 99% of subscribers listened to all 12 episodes, compared to the usual 40% for podcasts otherwise. The team on stage at Cannes Lions put it down to the fact they took visual storytelling, inspiration from hit TV shows like Mad Men or House of Cards, and applied it to audio. They thought about having a beginning, middle and an end to the story about the murder itself, and then also a beginning, middle and end of Sarah Koenig’s reporting on it too. They also wanted to ensure they made the characters seem as real as they actually are, so as 3-dimensional as possible. And they focused on the humanity of the story, and how to share that authenticity. They proved that storytelling done well, can live on any medium.

2. Data at the speed of F1
Data has been a recurring trend throughout this week. But today, the lessons in that field came from Formula One racing. Driver David Coulthard said they used to use data retrospectively, done in the aggregate. “As we’ve shifted into digital, we can now collect data instantaneously and at a much finer level of granularity. It’s transmitted in real-time from the car, back to the base where a team of people are sitting there and analysing, reporting straight back to the driver. The level of interaction between the team has really increased with this constant transmission of information. It’s immediate customer feedback.” They compared this with the media industry, saying that all digital is transmitted as data to be analysed in real-time, and that it can be made actionable. “We can immediately use it to modify and test things on a continual basis, see what works and act quickly, therefore creating more useful, engaging experiences for consumers,” said Konrad Feldman, CEO of data processing organisation, Quantcast.

3. Laugh then think
Ben Jones, CTO of AKQA took to the Lions Innovation stage with the frank statement that adults are sh*t. “We learn to become it,” he said. “And we keep on doing it and we become worse.” He encouraged the crowd instead to seek naivety, to ask questions, and to become a deliberate beginner. We can learn so much from children, he explained. A similar process has been put in place for meetings at AKQA called “laugh and think”. It inspires the team to say the really stupid things, the out there ideas that everyone will laugh about, before then taking a moment and thinking about them in order to actually come up with something feasible. “It’s about fearless empowerment. Allow them to create something without the fear of what’s going to go wrong,” he said, explaining that when hiring they look for “thinkermakers” – individuals who have a combination of ideas, creativity and can code. “Don’t be an adult, be an optimist and dream,” he added.

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