Thomas Fenelon on Cannes Lions

Written by Thomas Fenelon, Senior Associate, Strategy

As a first time “Cannes-er” I can tell you that I am very eager to hit the ground running next week! The more I read up on the Cannes Lions Festival and discuss it with colleagues, the more excited I get to step outside of my comfort zone, absorb every little detail, and dive into conversations across verticals that I haven’t been exposed to yet. Being given the opportunity to establish relationships with and attend world class seminars alongside the other Young Lions is truly a dream come true and one that will leave a lasting impression on my professional career.

Here in New York I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of the Volvo business for almost two years now, which, for someone who has never been a “car guy”, I’d say is pretty good! For the past few years Volvo’s had an evergreen initiative of rebranding into the luxury automotive space and has recently begun reinventing its voice to consumers. Topics such as sustainability, personalization, and autonomy have dominated industry conversation in recent years and Volvo plans on doing everything possible to ensure they are at the forefront of the upcoming automotive renaissance.

In order to be well-equipped for these new initiatives, our team will continue to gather insights and best practices from other challenger brands that have succeeded in pushing the boundaries of the status quo.  With the industry expected to change drastically over the next few years, I’m very interested in attending seminars similar to ‘Future Consumer 2021’ to get an idea of which direction marketing experts believe we’re headed. Gaining an understanding of the path ahead will help us better prepare for situations that we didn’t see creeping up on the horizon in addition to capitalizing on others that we previously didn’t see as much potential in.

Throughout talks like ‘Human to Human Marketing in a World of Technology’ and ‘CHEERS TO PEOPLE! Make Brands More Human, Change the Game’ I’ll learn about brands that have succeeded in creating a voice that feels unique to each consumer, which is becoming ever so important in auto. Consumers are searching for vehicles that fit their personal lifestyle rather than something that gets them from Point A to Point B. They want to see a purpose behind their preferred brand, whether that be embracing electrification or supporting charitable causes. These same consumers are making decisions based upon the personal connections, or lack thereof, that they’ve established with the brand. But how do we differentiate ourselves from other autos? How do we communicate our story in a way that resonates with our target audience? How do we get them to view Volvo as not only an auto brand, but rather a piece of their life? We know they’re interested – we have the data to back it up. So then how do we engage them in a way that causes them to buy into the brand even more? It’s questions like these that I’ll be trying to solve during ‘Beefin’ Up Brands: The Power of Creative Transformation’ and ‘Dark Data: Creative Insights Amazon Doesn’t Want You To See’ to better inform our decisions and client relationships in the coming months.

P.S. Don’t forget the three simple rules of a Strategist – Observe, Listen, and Ask Questions.