When elected officials in Lebanon — in a bid to hold onto their power — tried delaying the elections by declaring a shortage of paper and ink, AnNahar Newspaper halted the one thing it is best known for: publishing a daily newspaper.
Instead of printing its much-anticipated 2022 Elections Edition, the company donated the paper and ink needed to produce that edition so it would instead be used to ensure ballots were printed. Instead of a printed version of the newspaper, news racks across the country that day sported signs explaining its cause and offering a QR code for readers to access an online edition.
The gesture quickly became a movement, with other press, private donors, and recycling companies joining in to ensure there was plenty of paper and ink to print the ballots so the election could go on as planned.
With that unprinted edition, the company said, it didn’t just save paper and ink; it saved democracy.
Creativity for the senses
That’s just one example of how creativity in publishing can make a difference in the world, said Marcelo Benez, chief commercial officer at Folha de S.Paulo in Brazil. During Wednesday’s INMA members-onlyWebinar, Creativity in advertising: Insights for publishers from Cannes Lions Festival, Benez shared several examples of how brands and publishers are breaking the mold and redefining what advertising looks like.
Since 1954, Cannes Lions: The International Festival of Creativity has showcased creative efforts around the world and tracked trends that are driving change. One recurring theme during this year’s festival was “collaborativity” — the collision of collaboration and creativity. It is a word that resonates well within the news media industry, Benez said.
“The news media industry is always ready to do partnerships with advertisers,” he said. “Collaborativity reinforces the importance of publishers to be flexible, disruptive, proactive, and add credibility to brands.”
He pointed to MasterCard, which presented a session on multisensory marketing, using all five senses to appeal to customers. The rapid advances in technology are created a “techsunami” that demands brands leverage all the senses — sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch — to reach their audiences.
Folha de S.Paulo has a “unique and multi-platform advertising partnership with MasterCard” and uses all its vehicles, from print to mobile, as part of that agreement, Benez said.
Bringing creativity home
In 2022, several clear macro trends emerged. One significant trend is to “market beyond campaigns,” Benez said.
“This is the importance of creative teams developing business solutions and not just communication campaigns,” he said. Aligning a brand’s pitch with results gives it a sense of purpose. “It needs to be more than a creative message.”
Campaigns revolving around issues such as equality, inclusion, sustainability, and diversity were important themes at the 2022 festival. Brands are also looking at ways to be greener and share that message with customers. According to the State of Creativity survey conducted by the festival organisers, 85% of respondents said “creativity focused on sustainability is crucial or paramount for businesses these days.”
Many campaigns focus on the environment and raise awareness about practices that are harming the planet, Benez said. One example came from the France Nature Environment, which created a powerful campaign called “Dropped on the ground, picked up by the sea.” This campaign zeroed in on the harmful practice of improperly or carelessly discarding disposable face masks, which then are washed out to seas and oceans, where they can harm fish, turtles, sea otters, and other aquatic creatures.
“This campaign is very relevant,” Benez said.
Diversity also makes a difference and can affect a brand’s appeal among today’s consumers. Benez noted that, according to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “67% of consumers that have already experienced prejudice would buy from companies that stimulate diversity.” That can include addressing ageism, racism, sexism, or other forms of prejudice.
The power of telling stories
Journalism has always depended on storytelling and today, that plays an important role in advertising, too.
“Storytelling reinforces the importance of publishers to advertisers,” he said. The use of interactive tools has transformed this space and created more ways for publishers to engage readers both for advertising and journalism.
The festival highlighted the importance of the news media industry for supporting causes, he said. Thanks to the trust that people have in journalism, this remains the best environment for brands to convey their messages — particularly as it relates to themes of sustainability, diversity, equality, social inclusion, and important causes.
“Only creativity is not enough anymore,” Benez said. “Advertising nowadays needs to be a great idea, but it has to show results — actions and sales.”