4 Top Lessons Learned from Cannes Lions 2017

Recovering from jetlag post-Cannes Lions festival is a lot easier when you have a few awards to show for it. This year, Havas took 41 Lions and countless insights home from the seven-day festival. In the weeks since I returned to the states, there are four takeaways in particular that keep coming back to inspire me.

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Cause Branding Digest, July 19, 2016


What Makes Cause Marketing Different?
(Search Engine Journal, 14.07.16)

Cause marketing is what happens when a for-profit business works together with a nonprofit in a way they both can benefit. In fact, it’s more common for companies to work toward a social cause than not.


Cause Marketing: How Your Company Can Focus on Purpose as Well as Profit
(Business2Community, 23.06.16)

Now more than ever before, cause marketing initiatives hold importance in the workplace. Companies who exhibit social responsibility have a competitive advantage as their values illustrate that they care about more than just increasing their bottom line. For consumers, this plays a critical role during the decision-making process and can be the difference between brand loyalty or disengagement.


The Psychology Behind Successful Cause Marketing
(Content Standard, 18.05.16)

Every morning with a cup of wake-up fuel in hand, I turn on the TV to watch the news, and I’m bombarded by ads I can’t stand. When I try to remember the last time I got annoyed with a brand I needn’t think back more than 15 minutes. But when was the last time I was inspired by a brand, or moved by its story?


As Corporations Fade, a Search for What’s Next
(TriplePundit, 27.04.16)

Apple’s market cap ($607 billion) is more than the GDP of Argentina or Sweden. But the dinosaurs got big, too. And many publicly traded corporations are like dinosaurs, says author Gerald Davis. They cannot keep up with changes in hiring, sourcing and technology. He attests that they are becoming obsolete, and it’s time to think about what’s next.


“The voluntary approach to corporate social responsibility has failed in many cases.” —David Suzuki


Happy Anniversary to Us!

It’s been 40 amazing years since our founding on March 1, 1976, in Providence, Rhode Island. An agency of many public relations firsts and innovations, Havas PR North America will mark our major milestone with many initiatives that give a fond nod to our past while looking to the future. To celebrate and to honor our long history of good work, over the coming year we will undertake “$400K for 40,” a pledge to donate $400,000 worth of man hours in support of charitable organizations in the cities where we have key offices: New York City, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Providence. And that’s just for starters. Stay tuned for more news of anniversary celebrations.

Personal Branding Digest, August 7, 2015


Personal Branding and Identity: Experts Read Between the Lines
(LinkedIn, 02.08.15)

Loyalty and credibility are two absolute requirements when you write and publish your work on a social media. Once you acknowledge it, you are totally free to design your personal branding. It all begins with your profile. Yet, most of the time, it also ends with it. Why?


Why Personal Branding Is Essential to Career Success
(Fast Company, 13.07.15)

At this point, it’s established that personal branding is important for a number of reasons. It provides a clear focus for personal development while establishing yourself as a thought leader. It also works wonders for career success, allowing individuals to pursue whatever it is that they’re passionate about. The mutual relationship between career success and personal branding is a truly unique dynamic that, when understood, has the potential to launch a person to new heights.


Branding Tips from Donald Trump, Presidential Candidate
(Forbes, 28.06.15)

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Donald Trump is running for President of the United States. That he can credibly do this and that so many people care about it has a lot to do with how The Donald has created his brand.


Why Modern Blue Collar Workers Should Start Personal Branding
(Business2Community, 24.06.15)

“Branding” is obviously a buzzword in offices around the world, but the concept is so popular that the term has started catching fire in alternative workplaces, as well. Tradesmen and laborers in a variety of fields must keep eyes and ears toward their brands to ensure their customers are receiving the service and treatment they expect. To achieve this, blue collar companies are paying more attention to their employees — and their employees’ personal brands.


“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” —George Bernard Shaw


Will the Creative Tone of Super Bowl Commercials Change?

Well over half of people in the ad business (65 percent) and Americans who aren’t part of the industry (62 percent) feel that the recent domestic violence issues of NFL players will help change what we’ll see during the big game this year, according to a new study by our client the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies). In Adweek, 4A’s CMO Alison Fahey said the upcoming Super Bowl offers an opportunity for “powerful, positive social messages” that hit a “sweet spot” with the audience. And two-thirds of Americans and advertising executives agree. “I don’t think everybody should go overboard—and make it the ‘do-gooder’ Super Bowl,” Fahey says in the article. “[But] it may not be the year for that slapstick, semi-violent tone in advertising.”

The Gold Standard for Doing Good

On Tuesday night (Nov. 11), our pro bono client Hearts of Gold celebrates 20 years of fighting against homelessness with its 18th Annual Hearts of Gold Gala, at the New York Stock Exchange. The not-for-profit organization aims to foster sustainable lifestyle and self-sufficiency changes in homeless mothers and their children and help families transition out of shelters to places where they can thrive on their own. In its two decades, Hearts of Gold has assisted more than 12,000 mothers and children. To help the organization raise money to do more good works, you can buy tickets for the event—which includes a Tracy Reese runway show, live and silent auctions, music, cocktails and a moveable feast—at heartsofgold.org/20.html. ’Tis the season to be giving, and we are up to our eyeballs in giving to worthwhile groups. Please join us.

Corporate Branding Digest, Oct. 13, 2014


The Secrets to Pulling Off a Real-People Marketing Campaign
(Fast Company, 11.10.14)

Paul D’Arcy, SVP of marketing for Indeed, explains why a recent campaign worked for them and how it could pay off for your brand.


5 Personal Branding Tips for CEOs with Dan Schawbel
(Forbes, 29.09.14)

The best CEOs are able to leverage their authentic personality in order to attract attention to their company. For instance, Steve Jobs was known as being harsh on employees, having dynamic presentations and was a perfectionist. Those describe who he is and he doesn’t fake it or apologize for it. A brand personality delights consumers and makes them more interested in what your company sells.


How Not to Handle a Crisis, Courtesy of the NFL’s Roger Goodell
(The Globe and Mail, 24.09.14)

As a long-time NFL fan, I have been disheartened by the recent spate of domestic abuse cases that have arisen in recent months. But my distaste for the actions of players like Ray Rice and Greg Hardy has been matched by my disgust at National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell’s lack of leadership in responding to those actions.


The 4 Leadership Skills that Really Matter
(The Muse, 01.08.14)

The fundamental techniques that drive your success never change. Think about how many free throws Michael Jordan must have practiced, or how many jabs Mike Tyson threw. Top athletes like them never stop practicing their basic building blocks even after rising to the top of the professional ranks. So why do people believe leaders at different levels need to focus and develop different core skills?


“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions—in a way that serves the world and you.” —Richard Branson


Why Can’t Ben Affleck Fix His Personal Brand?

[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]

I can’t muster up too much sympathy for a Hollywood star whose personal branding woes haven’t prevented him from earning more money than most of us ever dream of seeing, but from an image point of view, I do feel bad for Ben Affleck. Even after all these years and all his good work, he’s still struggling to be taken seriously.

It’s a cautionary tale on the power of branding—and how it’s much harder to rehabilitate an ailing brand than to create a good one from scratch.

Affleck got his start in indie films like Dazed and Confused and Kevin Smith’s Mallrats (and virtually all of Smith’s movies), and although those films often drew cult followings, his characters were less than golden boys. Then, when he made his major breakthrough, in 1997’s Good Will Hunting, which he co-wrote with boyhood friend Matt Damon partly out of frustration at being cast only ever in supporting roles, he was often overshadowed by his very-much-a-golden-boy partner. But the film netted nine Oscar nominations, and Damon and Affleck were on the map after winning for best original screenplay.

Cut to a decade and a half later, and Affleck’s brand seems to be floundering. His film Argo, which he directed, was beloved by critics, widely considered one of the best movies of 2012 and successful at the box office. He won the Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice awards for best director. And yet, when the Academy Award nominations were announced, he got dissed: Argo was nominated for best picture, but Affleck wasn’t put up for best director. (That very night was the Critics’ Choice ceremony, where he cheekily started his acceptance speech by saying, “I would like to thank the Academy….”)

But the lack of an Oscar nomination was widely seen as a major snub. As New York film critic David Edelstein wrote in a recent lament about why he dislikes the Oscars: “Ben Affleck went in 30 seconds from golden boy to looooooser—until his win (and reception) at the Golden Globes restored a measure of dignity. There’s nothing more pathetic than a film trotted out in December to qualify for a nomination that doesn’t materialize: No matter how worthy, the media consigns it to oblivion.” Perez Hilton went one step further: “Ben Affleck VINDICATED After Oscar Snub!”

Still, the Golden Globes are not the Oscars—speaking of brands—and recognition at the Globes, even beating out Tarantino, Bigelow and Spielberg for best director, isn’t nearly as prestigious as a nod from the Academy. Affleck still doesn’t seem to be part of that club.

So what gives?

Bennifer. Affleck is still struggling to be taken seriously, some 10 years after he dated Jennifer Lopez. Even though he’s now one of Hollywood’s most sought-after directors, people are having a very hard time forgetting the cheesiness and excess of that relationship—he reportedly gave J. Lo a $3.5 million engagement ring, let her write a song called “Dear Ben” about how much she loved him, and filmed Gigli with her. It was one of the worst movies in history, and it earned them a Razzie Award for worst screen couple, one of many embarrassing anti-accolades.

Hollywood, tabloids and tabloid readers are slow to forget. Although Affleck has turned his life around, marrying (and—more unusual and impressive—staying married to) respected actress Jennifer Garner, having three children, moving into directing, and undertaking intense charitable efforts here and in Africa especially, what too often comes to mind is still J. Lo and Gigli.

He has done serious artistic work, directing acclaimed, slightly gritty films such as The Town and Gone Baby Gone, as well as work on changing his image and personal brand. Without being contrived about it, he has taken many steps that should have showcased the artistic side of Ben Affleck—how he’s grown up and moved beyond the fake-tanning boy toy he (perception-wise) was a decade ago—and yet he still struggles to be taken truly seriously by the Hollywood elite.

Like a down-and-out character in one of his Boston-based films, all he can do is keep on keeping on. Brand reinvention takes time, especially when the outdated brand was also outsize.

[photo: creativecommons.org/SynergyByDesign]