Cannes Lions Featured for Blog

Disconnecting to Reconnect at 2012 Cannes Lions

This week, I’m in Cannes covering the 2012 Cannes Lions (tough life, I know) for Ogilvy. One of the first, rather contradicting, trends that’s shown through in the various seminars is that of “disconnecting.”

We’ve heard a few presenters talk about the trend in “disconnecting” or choosing to have an offline (rather than online) experience. Arianna Huffington [blog] dubbed it one of her three “mega trends” (reconnect, recharge (disconnect), resonate).

Contagious Magazine highlighted the trend of club-goers “checking in” (literally) their mobile devices at the door to have a truly offline experience.

With this emerging trend, I asked John Bell, social@Ogilvy’s Global Managing Director, for his opinion.

John Bell: It’s ironic that this year’s Cannes event is dominated by social media – Facebook, Twitter, RenRen, LinkedIn all attending in full force – yet, there is a wave of discussion about “disconnecting.” That Arianna Huffington spoke about it.  The constant connectivity and reactivity many of us fall into as we check in, update, respond to emails, IM and more is the product of our times. And it supports my sense that social media are more about new behaviors than about technology. Those on the front line of connectivity – busy executives like Arianna and the cadre of marketing professionals attending Cannes – all are susceptible to becoming that “hyper-connected” individual who loses something in the vain attempt to be always-on.

The limits of human capacity to be creative and recharged in the face of constant over-stimulation is not new. But it’s new to more people. We will likely see new behaviors, where people set their limits. I do it now, surprisingly, because my 14-year-old daughter insisted that I not bring out an electronic device at a meal table. No more checking in at Pete’s Apizza. She was my voice of reason to jolt me out of my reactive (and arguably low-value) behaviors.

Don’t expect a huge backlash against social networking, however. This is more about learning to be effective, given new technologies and choices. It happens with every innovation – long-distance commuting, the intrusion of the telephone.

Look at where growth is really through the roof in social – Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, China. These markets are just ramping up to the benefits of a connected society. I doubt that many feel the same pressures of the over-connected execs at Cannes. The world is still exploding with new, positive behaviors made possible by the new technology and networks in our lives.

Kristin Parrish: As the Global Managing Director of a social-driven organization, how does this affect future social media marketing and communications?

John Bell: The biggest implication of the flood of social media-based behaviors and media in our lives will be the premium we will all place on filtering the relevant. One of the great promises of a socially networked life is greater connectivity to people who matter to us, innovative utility, and access to content and information that is inherently more relevant.

While the most connected in our society – busy execs and the marketing vertical, in particular – may feel harassed or trapped in a reactive lifestyle, all it takes are personal limits and behavior change to bring it all back to a reasonable level.

The rest of the world is still absorbing the exciting benefits of a networked life and social media growth. Paul Adams from Facebook shared this during Cannes. His work, outlining the effect of networks and connectivity in our lives, summarized in his book, Grouped, is a great example of the exciting changes we are reaping from new behaviors and technology.

The one thing brands must do to avoid making things worse is to double-down on delivering real value to the individual. The more we all deliver on a customer-centered approach that puts a premium on knowing what individual customers most want and most want to accomplish, the more likely that we will avoid flooding the social media landscape with irrelevant, annoying stimuli.

Taking a moment to “disconnect” this afternoon, I took a ride with regional head of social@Ogilvy, Leo Ryan, here’s what he had to say:

So for those of you who are looking for that way to “recharge” your creative battery – take a moment and find your offline inspiration, whether it be gardening, hiking, painting or just laying on the beach in Cannes.

(Oh, and there is an app for that…Check out the Huffington Post GPS for the Soul.)

Keep up-to-date on events and trends of 2012 Cannes Lions by following me and my fellow hyper-connected colleagues on the #OgilvyCannes hashtag.

Now I’m off to disconnect and recharge at the Opening Gala on the beach….