Stalking consumers never ends good for brands: Orlando Wood, Cannes 2024

Last year, brands spent upwards of $750bn globally on advertising. It’s estimated that only 6% of it is truly effective. This data should make every marketer take a break and reconsider some of his/her marketing techniques. Hinting at a possible extinction of the advertisement industry and more, John Hegarty and Orlando Wood dive into the subject at Cannes Lions 2024

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Cannes: Why do brands advertise? To sell more products is the simple answer to this question, but there’s a catch here. Last year, brands spent upwards of $750bn globally on advertising. It’s estimated that only 6% of it is truly effective. This data should make every marketer take a break and reconsider some of their marketing techniques.

On the final day of the Cannes Lions 2024, the stage was graced The Garage Entertainment to host Orlando Wood, Chief Innovation Officer at Systeml, and John Hegarty, Creative Founder of The Garage Entertainment, to address the in-hand challenge of ineffective marketing.

Half-interested consumers

Wood, who has been researching the ineffectiveness of the industry, said, “If I was manufacturing Bosch brakes, for instance, for motor cars, and I said, well, you know, only 6% of our product is effective, I think you'd be pretty alarmed, wouldn't you?”  

Citing the reasons for it, he added, “We have been through a golden age for advertising technology, and what that has enabled us to do is to target ever more precisely and get in front of the half-interested people who are already half-interested in the brand and we've sort of almost forgotten that we've got to interest people in the first place.”

The need for heterogenesis

Technology has always gone hand in hand with creativity. In recent times, however, technology is holding an edge over creativity. As Wood perceives it, “What it's helped us to do is become very efficient at things. Efficiency tends to lead to homogeneity and things start to look the same. it's bizarre, isn't it, when you say homogeneity, but surely, the thing that's absurd in a way is the point of a brand is to be different.”

Rationality over imagination

Awards do not capture the true picture of the industry. They serve the theme of rationality over imagination. Speaking of the same, Hegarty said, “Rationality will sometimes overtake empathy or overtake imagination because, you know, we like lists.

The 10 best this, the 9 best that, more award winners than anybody else. We're passionate about lists, but, in many ways, the list is deceptive. It doesn't reflect what is great. I mean, Leonardo da Vinci, probably one of the all-time greatest artists, I think he did about 10 pictures. So if he'd been lined up for awards, he'd probably come bottom, because how many paintings did you do? Not many. But my God, they were brilliant.”

Stalker alert

Trust lies at the heart of every relationship and it involves ethics. Relationships between brands and customers are not very different and stalking is definitely not allowed. Addressing the issue, Hegarty said, “I think there's a kind of media strategy now, although it's becoming stalking. You know, that's what brands are doing, basically. They're online, they're stalking you. They're taking your data, which is becoming a bit of a problem now because there are regulations about it.


But ultimately, they're taking your data and they're stalking you. And I never thought stalking was a great sort of strategy for developing a relationship with somebody.”

Gaining control

A shift towards organic food, recycling, and environmental activism represents a rejection of the scientific way of life. 

“It (technology) brought us the nuclear weapons. Today you might look at it and go what is technology taking, not just adding. So maybe there needs to be a cultural revolution if we want to take back control.”

The possibility of extinction

Hinting at a fatal possibility, Wood mentioned the extinction of the advertising industry. “Salesmanship seeks to demonstrate superiority but with showmanship, you start to think, well, how would we do things differently? Perhaps we need some actors, a drama, dialogue, you know, something happening, something to find the magic in the product. And we're very much product to product in this salesmanship era. So there's a danger that the industry if it doesn't do something about the state of where we are, it could become extinct.”

Importance of emotion

“One really important thing that I've discovered in my research is the importance of emotion expressed through the body, through the voice, and through the face. And this is hugely important for capturing attention, for generating an emotional response, and lodging your brand in memory,” said Wood. 

technology creativity salesmanship extinction Half-interested rationality Cannes Lions 2024 showmanship advertising brands