June 20th, 2011
03:39 PM GMT
Cannes, France (CNN) – It sounds harsh but it’s a truth, at least for one industry. I would tell you the name of the industry but that’s where it gets tricky.
I am at the Cannes Lions Festival which used to be an advertising conference for agency head honchos. They would meet, swap ideas and party through the night. Now it’s a "Festival of Creativity" where head honchos from all sorts of different businesses meet, swap ideas and party through the night.
One industry bigwig told me that advertising is dead. We’ve heard that before, but it now feels like we are past the shock of the news, had the funeral and are ready to move on. But this year’s conference seems to be asking: "Move on to what?"
The (Ad) agencies don’t feel like they are selling anymore. They are building long-lasting, deep relationships with "people." They don’t even talk about "customers" anymore. "Customer" is patronising and in the brave new world of "Creativity" everyone is on a level playing field – they are in a relationship, a platonic one of course but a deep, meaningful relationship.
There are brands who have achieved the holy grail of building long-lasting, deep relationships with "people," and they are the celebrity brands. That’s why a Jonas Brother, will.i.am and Pharrell Williams are all here and the centre of attention. These are pop stars who have customers/fans/people so loyal they do not feel like they are buying anything. They have bought into the brand, but aren’t buying it.
One of the main talking points at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is working out how, as a commercial business, you manage to build up a following so loyal that your followers forget they are what used to be called a customer. I am using my own words now but hopefully it helps get the message across.
Do you think you could ever have the passion for an everyday product, though, that you did as a teenager for your favorite pop star?
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