Article – FCB Montréal at SXSW

28 Mar 2018


FCB Montréal headed to SXSW this year to find new sources of inspiration. One president, one strategist, and two creatives were in attendance, returning home with different viewpoints on what trends stood out most for them.

Samia Chebeir, President
We can always do more!

What I will remember best about my first trip to Austin is the diversity—in everything SXSW had to offer, from restaurants to content, the quality of experiences, people, and architecture. There’s a diversity of possibility that’s open to us, and we need to seize it.

We call ourselves digital, 360, holistic… and yet we’re still thinking in silos. The technology is there. We just have to use it. Take a better look at how we do things. Giphy is a great example. Like Alex Chung said, the platform has become a search engine that’s 10% of Google’s volume. That changes our paradigms. My biggest question after SXSW is: What are the new paradigms we need to explore beyond?

Data is an excellent ally, but it can also turn into our worst enemy. It encourages us to robotize everything we do. We should be using data to captivate consumers one by one to create an authentic connection with them, instead of pushing what we want to sell on them (yes, yes, we all fall into this trap). That way, clients have the opportunity to become brand fans. And authenticity isn’t just about how we do things—it’s also about our choice and respect of brand values. Our imagination is the limit. In this era of individualism, authenticity sells. REAL authenticity. Let’s use technology to create more meaningful relationships between brands and advertisers. Let’s finally understand that world of the Jetsons is tomorrow.

You know all that already, right? But the goal is to understand how technology can help us achieve it. How, for example, putting your mug down on the barista’s counter means a café latte, shot of expresso, soy milk, two pumps of hazelnut syrup, and three ice cubes.

It’s important to do more. To take technology and use it to create a unique connection and have consumers experience something special. That’s where the big things happen.

Oh, and the trending colour for 2019 is… matte black. (Source: Carla Buzasi, WGSN)

Marie-Nathalie Poirier, Director, Strategic Planning
Save time—and, more importantly, stop wasting it.

Our ability to concentrate has drastically diminished. It went from an average of 12 minutes just 20 years ago to only a few seconds today—in large part because more information is consumed on the go and via our mobile phones.

It’s not just Tinder that requires our brain to use thumbs as triggers to swipe, move on, or engage with content. It takes between 0.25 and 1.7 seconds for something to hit the mark—much too fast for any real reflection. We need to adapt to consumers’ normal use on all platforms by telling an entertaining story in mini form. And we cannot afford to look like an ad, or we’ll risk the same fate as the guy in the Tinder photo standing shirtless in the gym: swiped left, bye, see ya!

Even YouTube waded in with their The greatest stories retold activation, where classic tales (like Cinderella and Snow White) were retold in 3 formats: the original, a 15-second version, and a 6-second version. No surprise that the 6-second version worked just as well as the others—if not better!

When we talk about time, we have to keep the growth of technology in mind, because this will save us a lot of time in the end. It would appear that by 2020 (and that’s just 2 years away!), 30% of content will be consumed not via a screen, but through voice-controlled devises. Pretty logical, if you think about it. No need to waste time typing and looking at a screen.

Is all this obvious? Yes, but we continue to be intrusive and waste precious seconds with our advertising content, instead of entertaining.

So if you want to save time, better make sure your users are saving time, too. Your results will thank you!

Sébastien Robillard, Art Director
From screen to voice.

Never before has AI been in the news so much, and yet we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what it can do. Chatbots, analysis, automation, personalization. There’s something for everyone.

One branch of AI is evolving at a rapid rate: virtual voice assistants. Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri are among the most popular. Christopher Ferrel, Digital Strategist Director at The Richard Group, spoke at length about this at his conference, I’ve got no screens: Internet screenless future.

As Marie-Nathalie mentioned above, soon 30% of web users will head online without the use of screens. Note as well that 50% of all online searches will be done by voice. Advertising linked to vocal searches seems like the next logical step. For instance, a consumer may say “Alexa, I’m out of laundry detergent.” And Alexa can answer “I can order you Tide if you wish. You’ll get it by Friday. Is that OK?” It’s like vocal SEO. A brand new advertising world is opening up to us.

In the very near future, consumers may also begin to converse out loud with brands the way they do now with chatbots. Think about being able to book a hotel room by speaking directly to the hotel chain. Or reading the latest news from the New York Times. What voices will our brands take on? What gender? Which personalities? What accent? So many questions our imaginations will need to answer—and quickly.

Soon we’ll need to switch our Mobile First mentality to a Voice First one. Why not start now?

Joël Letarte, Copywriter
Shorter—but also a lot longer.

Marie-Nathalie spoke about how new trends are leaning towards shorter content. But what stood out most for me at SXSW is the proliferation of long content. We’re advertising at a time when length is a lot less restrictive than before—so in many ways, we’re free to create what we want. We’ll be seeing a lot more 6-second ads, GIFs, and short content, but don’t be surprised if we begin to produce films that go on for 3 minutes, 7 minutes, and even an hour or more.

Brands looking to create quality are turning to just that kind of format, which allows them to be much more in-depth. Think of the series The Wolf, created by Giant Spoon for their client HP. Inspired by spy thrillers, this series was made up of episodes ranging from 30 seconds to 7 minutes, featuring such stars as Christian Slater. The production, scope, actors… everything worked in synch to create high-quality content. Personally, it made me want to watch the series. For a brand that’s a little blah, this idea is mission accomplished—especially since 70%of IT workers are millennials, an audience that wants to be entertained.The brand succeeded in creating a relationship with consumers that goes above and beyond advertising.

Another example from SXSW is the documentary Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World—a 98-minute movie by none other than Werner Herzog, presented at Sundance, and sold to Magnolia for distribution. When you look closely, what appears to be a simple online documentary is actually an ad for Netscout. The idea came from an agency. The entire budget went to production. No media placement. It is the pinnacle of storytelling and branded content.