Why the marketing industry must break away from hourglass model, explains Nick Law

On day 1 of Cannes Lions 2024, Nick Law Creative Chairperson, Accenture Song, emphasised the need to bridge the gap between brand marketers and performance marketers, using the analogy of an hourglass

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Nick Law

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Cannes: “How do you relegate creativity to output?” What started with a simple question about what creativity really means ended with stunning nuances on advertising and marketing. The keynote address at the Cannes Lions by Nick Law, Creative Chairperson, Accenture Song, dove deep into the aspects of creativity and marketing.

In emphasising the need to bridge the gap between brand marketers and performance marketers, Nick Law used the analogy of an hourglass. 

He explained, "Brand marketers excel at storytelling and positioning a brand but often lack sophistication in technology and media. Conversely, performance marketers are adept at media and technology but typically lack creative input. This separation between the two creates an hourglass-like structure with a significant gap in the middle." 

He continued, "Our industry is beginning to resemble an hourglass. We've essentially abandoned the middle due to the strong pull of the two ends. From a customer perspective, at the top of the hourglass, we're trying to make them feel something, and at the bottom, we're trying to make them act. However, we've vacated the critical middle where customers actually make their decisions." 

As a result, consumers are increasingly making decisions on third-party sites because brands have neglected this crucial middle ground. “The gap left by performance and brand marketers is now being filled by social media influencers, who guide and influence consumer behaviour more directly, added Law.  

As advice for businesses looking to expand their footprint, Law emphasised the importance of bridging the gap between brand and performance marketers and focusing on the middle ground.  

"Bring together these two tribes of brand and performance marketers and start in the middle," he advised. "When we talk about brand or performance, starting in the middle means making people understand and clarify the value. When value is understood, people will feel and act," said Law. 

Emphasising the need to start in the middle, Law urged industry leaders to market in a way that helps customers navigate the chaos caused by countless product offerings and ineffective strategies. “That's why they start in the middle, right? We need to, as an industry, help people clarify their decisions,” he stated. 

Moving ahead, Law emphasised the importance of having great products.

"It’s an old saying in the business world that you don't have a business without a customer, and you don't have a business or a customer without a product. A product is really the interface between these two things," Law elaborated. "You don't make a choice between the business and the customer; you make a choice about the product so that you bring these two things together." 

Keeping his address short yet impactful, Law shared three mantras for good advertising: 

  • “Work with freaks.”
  • “Make stuff that scares you.”
  • “Have some bloody fun.”
technology creativity Gen AI Product interface Empathising social media business Marketing Accenture advertising