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Amidst the sun-soaked passion that was dished up regularly at the 2015 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, it is healthy as marketers to remind ourselves of one important fact: Most marketing is still what we skip over, tune out and find mildly annoying as we hurry onto other things.

But there were two insights shared at this year’s show that stood out as particularly impactful for us as marketers and consumers – that may make our work not only useful to our clients and causes, but also useful to us as consumers of marketing as well.

Marketing For People

The first idea is that we have moved from marketing to people to marketing for people, as proposed by Unilever CMO Keith Woods in his address to a packed audience.

A particularly pointed example of marketing “for” people is the work of DACIA, which gave away it’s own sponsorship signage to small businesses in Italy that needed the exposure. And this is only one example in a growing number of works that are done to help disadvantaged groups around the world – with nonprofits often leading the way.

Another, perhaps more subtle example is one of the bigger hits of the show. “Like A Girl” by Always exploded a subtle language barrier holding back equal opportunities for women. The work didn’t promote a brand but an idea – one that helped us all learn a bit more about ourselves.

If we are to seriously consider our roles as marketing for people, then the natural question is how the work should reflect that new reality.

Data-Driven Insights Work

That question may be answered by a second idea, which was a remark from Sir Tim Berners Lee (one of his many comments at Cannes not about his supposed topic on Artificial Intelligence). He stated that to be in business today, companies cannot simply put up web pages – they must share their data.

Insights based on data – an increased understanding of ourselves, our world, our context – are what audiences really crave as they seek out the best products and services or organizations to help their personal journey.

Those of us who can deliver insights — packaged with the means to take advantage of those insights — will be the ones who win hearts, minds and advocacy. Billboards, web pages, PR (really any form of marketing) cannot simple promote – it must help people understand.

Final Thoughts

Combined together, we end up with a new role for organizations and their marketing. To be relevant, they must take what they learn (the data) and share that data to help audiences do more for themselves.

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