Highlights from Cannes 2017: The Influence of Great Storytelling

Storytelling is a popular word in the current marketing lexicon. Its one of the most authentic ways to ignite a bond between brands and consumers and was the theme of many talks and sessions at Cannes 2017, including one with Ira Glass (Producer, host, creator of This American Life, among others). Glass spoke about how to tell a good story and why it matters.

Glass’ 6 keys to telling a story:

  1. Story is a plot with forward momentum—it should drive to an interesting idea with meaning and involve interesting characters.
  2. Kids make great content—Kids really do say the most amazing things if you have the patience and respect to hear them. Interviewing kids can seem difficult, but it’s actually quite simple if you just listen.
  3. Great stories happen to those who can tell them—not everything has to be perfect. In fact, failure can make for a very interesting story if told correctly.
  4. Amuse yourself—to tell a moving story, you have to put your humanity into it. Laughing or showing curiosity in subjects or events that (in real life) aren’t funny is actually human. It’s ok to seek fun and to share your enthusiasm for the story as you’re creating it. Humor keeps people listening.
  5. Talk normal—Conversational tone is human and relatable. It creates a chatty intimacy between the teller and reader. True 1:1 conversation, with real vernacular, intonation and emphasis is the tone of the Internet.
  6. The power of not seeing—when you can only listen, there’s nothing to distract you from the narrative and characters of the story. You become reliant on your imagination to match the characters and narrative to image. The sound of a human voice immediately connects you to them and their story. As a radio icon, Glass is well aware of this.

Success of a Podcast is rooted in great storytelling.

The results have literally spoken for themselves: This American Life took 4 years to reach 1 million listeners per episode, while Serial took 4 weeks and S-Town took only 3 days. And when you compare the reach of the podcast, consider the data around other mediums as well: Wonder Woman’s opening weekend US audience was 11.4 million. Breaking Bad’s series finale was 10.3 million. While Serial’s S1 average downloads PER EPISODE was 14.2 million.

So how can we tell better brand stories?

As marketers, our messages should mean something—and lead to real connections with our audience. We should speak in a voice and tone that’s human and natural because it generates trust and loyalty. The success of some of the greatest podcasts was truly organic—no social media or promotion outside word-of-mouth. If we create stories that people want to share, we’ll bring the same level of success to our brands.

TPN Seasonal Pulse: SUMMER!


ABOUT SEASONAL PULSE: The TPN Seasonal Pulse is a quantitative tracking study fielded 6 times per year. This work is a deep dive into the consumer and shopper mindsets and behaviors of our client’s target audiences during the most important shopping seasons of the year: New Year, Spring, Summer, Back-to-School, Fall and Winter Holidays. To get more information from the 2017 summer study and go beyond the infographic, contact john_elliott@tpnretail.com

Highlights from Cannes 2017: Consuming vs. Doing

There’s no question that technology has fundamentally changed our lives—constant connectivity is a reality. But what level of connectivity is the healthiest? And how do we actually make consumers lives better verses creating addictive behaviors? This question entered my mind several times over the past few days at Cannes and particularly in listening to talks by Pinterest President, Tim Kendall and Senior Global Brand Director of Social Mecca and Video at Lego, Lars Silberbauer. Here are a few highlights below:

Are you living your life—or your selfie’s?
Tim Kendall (President, Pinterest) stressed that current technology trends are driving consumers to spend time behind smart screens verses beyond them. The average person spends 3 hours a day on their smart phone and the numbers are scarily rising. The Internet promise of connectivity is actually creating a world of isolation. And, current social platform KPIs focus on impressions and time spent on-screen verses igniting real life experiences.

As marketers, how can we create content that inspires consumers to stop tapping and start doing? Or, maybe not stop tapping…. just lessen it a bit to make sure consumers connect offline as well.

Using social media to ignite real play
Lars Silberbauer (Senior Global Brand Director of Social Mecca and Video, Lego) explained how he brought this iconic 85-year-old brand into the world of social media. Lego’s vision was to bring creativity and building together.

Using a delicate mix of digital tactics to inspire kids to play in the offline world, Lego gained a social following of over 1 million in just 3 weeks. The company focused positioning Lego as a play-starter with the hope of capturing new authentic Lego creations around the world. This effort led to an incredible set of Lego-user generated content and product innovations that continue to make the brand more modern and relevant.

As marketers (and good humans), we have an opportunity to develop content that helps our target consumers and shoppers to make, to do and to live in the real world. And that’s even more important now that we’re working almost exclusively in the world of digital.

Highlights from Cannes: Keith Barry Brings Magic to Marketing

The highlight of the Saturday’s sessions at the Palais was Keith Barry: a hypnotist, mentalist and magician. What, exactly does magic have to do with marketing? The answer could be… everything. Ken Hertz from memBrain interviewed Barry focusing on the power of suggestion and the ways our subconscious minds can be persuaded from reality. Barry uses hypnotic techniques, psychology, and neuro-linguistic programming. The use of key words and guided prompts can alter another person’s reality, sensitizing them to other realities.

Perception is everything
For instance, Barry put the thought of himself in a bath, having a “good scrub” into the mind of an audience volunteer. Then he put her hand into a box and asked her to feel and identify an object inside. She guessed the object was a “squishy sponge”. It was actually a very hard rock. We couldn’t believe our eyes. He performed several versions of this trick—all ending with the same shocking results.

Not a mind reader, an observationalist
For his next trick, he asked us to think of a question about ourselves that no one could guess. He then began to guess the questions and then nailed each one—from a first girlfriend’s name to a make of a favorite car to ATM pin numbers! Barry maintains he is not a mind-reader, but a thought-reader and observationalist. His take: though we like to think we’re so unique and special, people are actually quite similar in many ways. Because 90% of communication is non-verbal, you can read people’s body language, movements, facial cues & micro-expressions to tell what what’s going on inside their heads. Think of it more as brain-hacking than a brain-reading.

How can we apply the tricks of the trade?
The million (or billion?) dollar question now is how can we, as marketers, employ Barry’s approach in our campaigns and content? Are we doing it already? The world of facial recognition and artificial intelligence has given us some advanced tools but are we using them correctly? Influencing consumer behavior and creating demand, love, and preference for products and services is only part of our remit. The key moving forward is to work our magic—translating our learnings into messages and experiences that sell.


Amazon Acquires Whole Foods…. Now What?

Amazon announced that it is acquiring Whole Foods. The impact of this purchase is far reaching for retailers, grocers and brands. As marketers, we need to understand what this shift means to the retail landscape and to shopper expectations. Given this news, TPN’s Digital Commerce team has developed thoughts on what happens now and what to do.


Amazon is going to get smart on grocery.
Whole Foods gives Amazon the ability to leverage its knowledge within the grocery channel and a better understanding of how to source local and organic foods.

Amazon will integrate its features at Whole Foods.
Expect Whole Foods to integrate the ability to make transactions through a Prime account similar to the Amazon Go grocery model – making for faster, more seamless experiences.

AmazonFresh will grow.
Whole Foods locations will enable AmazonFresh to take food delivery to the next level, with faster, fresher deliveries taking place in a truly on-demand model.

Prices at Whole Foods will drop.
Many expect this merger will make Whole Foods more affordable. That said, it’s fair to expect prices at grocery stores to drop altogether.


Get to Know Amazon.
If food brands haven’t already, it’s crucially important to build relationships with Amazon, get familiar with their ecosystem, and start understanding its numerous paths to purchase.

Get to Know the Amazon shopper.
As stated in TPN’s Shopping in the Flow report from 2016, the retail purchase funnel is gone, and the buy is happening outside of physical stores through mobile devices and other in-home technology like Amazon Alexa. Brands must move to where these purchase take place… before it’s too late.

Don’t wait. It’s happening.
Amazon isn’t waiting for anyone in its efforts to extend its reach across the retail landscape. Getting familiar with the retailer today can only fuel a brand’s success for inevitable retail changes in the future.


More change is coming. While Amazon will continue to grow and extend its giant reach across the retail landscape, expect other heavy hitters – like Walmart, Target, and Kroger – to step up to the plate, find ways to evolve, and introduce their own retail innovations.

These are exciting times, and it’s just the beginning. While much of what this merger means is still very much unknown, one thing is certain: More change is coming.

At TPN, we’re ready for it.

Author: Rami Odeh | Digital Commerce Director | rami_odeh@tpnretail.com