Insights from Cannes – the joy of advertising.

The joy of advertising – the 5 smart ways of marketing success we can learn from Dumb Ways to Die

As we all know, this year’s big winner at Cannes and D&AD was Australia’s Metro Safety Campaign, Dumb Ways to Die.

Unlike some campaigns that win creative awards, this one has entered the hall of fame as a hard working marketing campaign too. Not only has it reduced deaths and accidents by 20%, but it’s the most viewed campaign globally of all time!

It’s also a brilliant example of  ‘Advertainment’ and total integration.

So what can marketers learn from this campaign? First it should be noted that this is not a brand campaign, it’s not selling a product, but trying to raise awareness and influence a behavioural change.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 01.03.44

INSIGHT. Before you put pen to brief and pen to paper, invest in insight. The campaign wasn’t created based upon a brief that started with, “…we are targeting A,B,C1 males.” They took time to look at the mindset of people and how to influence thought. Not enough clients are investing in proper insight. If you are still using A,B,C1 then you’re way behind the curve. Data and psychology are the new intelligence of marketing.

THE JOY OF ADVERTISING. Humour works, especially for serious subjects. Even during World War ll the most successful campaigns used humour. And since the earliest days of newspaper publishing, humour has been used to infuence opinion. Psychologists will tell you it works on 3 levels: A – it gets below the defenses – people put up barriers to lecturing or threatening messaging. B – it makes us feel good – research has shown that things that bring joy are more influential than things that make us feel guilty. C – we are more inclined to pass on or seek out things that make us smile (key if you want to go viral).

ENTERTAIN. Advertainment is the new thinking in advertising – the campaign is essentially an entertaining idea first, far from the rigid thinking of most ad campaigns. It’s mindset starts with focusing on the outcome – how people will react to the message – lets make people smile and feel good, not sad, shocked or guilty. In an increasingly multi dimensional communication environment, it sees its rivals not as other ads, but part of the vast array of entertainment we have pumped at us, or are able to access. They set out to make something better than the rest.

BIG BALLS. It takes a brave client or corporation to do work like this, and as one reviewer of the Cannes awards said, “This ad probably would never have happened in the UK or America, because we don’t have a courageous culture in marketing here anymore.” The message here is that clients need to take more risks and be brave if they want to stand out in an ever more crowded environment of tens of thousands of messages daily.

INVEST IN CREATIVITY. Good thinking, from strategy to the big idea to execution, isn’t about cost. See it as an investment, the Metro did. Yet most clients spend too small an amount on the idea compared to the media. A big idea on less media is more effective than a bad idea across lots of media. As one American ad agency CEO said at Cannes, “The problem with the UK is you under invest in the bit that makes the big difference.”

Overall, all marketers are facing the same problem – how do you get noticed in a crowded message marketplace? How do you compete, not just with other marketing messages, but a whole world of professional and public produced content, videos, publications and general entertainment. Creating a winning ad is like winning the lottery, and the odds are about the same.

And even if you do create something as wonderful as Dumb Ways to Die, you’ll need some luck too.

By contrast, if you do dull marketing on the cheap, being ignored is almost certain, because it’s a dumb way to try.