Research Insight

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The Age of the Actionist



My belief in how creativity can help overcome adversity was reignited last week at eurobest, the world’s pre-eminent celebration of European creativity. Our industry plays an important role in telling powerfully emotive stories that allow businesses to rise to the challenges faced in Europe. The need has never been stronger. We have the opportunity to tell stories that will get people to act and solve our current social, political and economic challenges.

Here are the top 10 insights I gathered from the festival:

1. Creativity is important in time of crisis

In extraordinary times, we often see people rise to fight by creating movements. The most wonderfully creative thinking has come from moments in time where we have faced social, political and economic adversity and worry. That’s what we are seeing in Europe right now. I’m backing creativity to win – ideas with passion, art and data – all working together to tell amazing stories to help everyone rise above.

2. Women as objects

In the words of Madonna Badger, “Real change happens when people come together to take a stand.”  What a remarkably brave woman sharing her personal tragedy with the world and helping to make it a better place.

3. Culture wins over strategy every time

If you find a culturally relevant insight, the rest is easy. Finding that insight doesn’t always come easily, but when you find it, magic happens.
Merry Little Car

4. Found, Used, Kept, Shared

These terms will replace “Paid, Owned and Earned” to describe how content now plays out in the media ecosystem. Never have publishers and platforms been more relevant to communications planning, as stories travel in a different way. We call them stories that are earned-centric, social-by-design and intelligently amplified.
Check it before it’s removed

5. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it

Businesses with a social purpose thrive and survive. Period.
Tutorial For Good

6. We predicted this last year in Edelman’s 2016 Earned Brand study: “purpose” means driving an actionist movement

Committed Consumers will take-action on a brand’s behalf and come to its defense, they will advocate for these brands, and they will share its stories. Smart brands are using this to drive business results.
Marriage Market Takeover

7. You don’t move people just with empathy, you do it with deep emotion

Deep emotion can come from fear, humor, sadness or intrigue. Just creating campaigns that are relevant to people to spark a reaction is not enough anymore. The most successful campaigns now use raw, real and deep emotion in their storytelling.
Girls of Paradise

8. The sharing economy is not new

People have always wanted to do the 3 Bs — to Buy something, to Borrow something, to Belong to something—now it’s just digitally enabled. And brands and business need to understand better the power this brings. Check out, a community-driven sports and fashion resource powered by Foot Locker.

9. Diversity becomes mainstream

Gender, age, sexuality, disability… finally, we are coming of age. This year’s speaker program drew inspiration from real-time diversity. Tension can create the best creative thinking. Let’s not lose that.
Surprise Selection

10. Judges are looking for work that makes you think

And hopefully that’s a reflection of what I am calling the current “Age of the Actionist.” The challenge has been set for our industry. Let’s rise to it and get businesses across Europe and beyond to drive social action and equality for all. It’s our time to lead.
Brutal cut

The road to the Cannes Lions Festival 2017 has begun.

Michelle Hutton is the chief operating officer of Edelman Europe.

Image by eurobest.
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