Cannes Lions 2019: Three Brands Delivering a Human Touch Through Technology

Look­ing back at this year’s Cannes Lions, a word that comes to mind is “den­si­ty”. Nowhere else in the mar­ket­ing and adver­tis­ing indus­try will you find such as dense con­cen­tra­tion of peo­ple, ideas, and cre­ativ­i­ty. From mat­ters of diver­si­ty and inclu­sion, to work­ing along­side AI and automa­tion, to the all-impor­tant ques­tion of data pri­va­cy, atten­dees have been approach­ing today’s biggest chal­lenges with vigour and a clear intent to bring about pos­i­tive change.

What makes Cannes even more spe­cial is the den­si­ty of back­grounds present. This place has a warmth to it, it’s an envi­ron­ment with­out bor­ders. From pro­fes­sion­al actors, to CMOs, to pro­gram­mat­ic adver­tis­ers, to the young cre­atives just join­ing the indus­try, this event brings togeth­er all walks of life, not just to cel­e­brate joint suc­cess­es but also to tack­le the prob­lems we face as a collective.

This year’s biggest dis­cus­sion point has been per­son­al­i­sa­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly how to deliv­er per­son­al­i­sa­tion at scale. Brands appre­ci­ate the need to stitch togeth­er more com­plete and accu­rate cus­tomer pro­files, but many busi­ness lead­ers admit they’re stuck, unsure of how to turn this ambi­tion into tan­gi­ble results.

As part of this, com­pa­nies also feel the pres­sure to cre­ate more con­tent, faster and to a high­er stan­dard, all in a way that feels rel­e­vant and per­son­alised. Conde Nast held a pan­el on how to adapt lux­u­ry con­tent for mass scale, while J Crew’s Jen­na Lyons host­ed a ses­sion on why cre­ativ­i­ty is the com­mon denom­i­na­tor of trans­for­ma­tion across every industry.

The key to achiev­ing both per­son­al­i­sa­tion and scale is to find a bal­ance. The best expe­ri­ences are based on emo­tion­al con­nec­tions. Deliv­er­ing that requires a deep dive into cus­tomer data, but it also means going beyond the data and appeal­ing to peo­ple on a deep­er lev­el. As many of this year’s Cannes nom­i­nees proved, great things hap­pen when sci­ence and cre­ativ­i­ty collide.

Here are three brands who excel mar­ry­ing inno­va­tion with a human touch. From con­tent veloc­i­ty to respon­sive cus­tomer expe­ri­ences, these com­pa­nies know how to delight and keep cus­tomers com­ing back for more.


Illy­café is one of the most recog­nised brands in cof­fee, but after more than 85 years in the mar­ket the time had come to pur­sue new growth oppor­tu­ni­ties. To do this, it has looked beyond the obvi­ous strength of its prod­ucts and embraced dig­i­tal as a sto­ry­telling medi­um for the masses.

Illy­café is cur­rent­ly on a three-year trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney, which began with a more scal­able approach to sto­ry­telling across chan­nels. The cof­feemak­er has imple­ment­ed a new Con­tent Man­age­ment Sys­tem (CMS) and Dig­i­tal Asset Man­age­ment (DAM) solu­tion, which work togeth­er to sup­port more per­son­alised con­tent deliv­ery and new forms of cus­tomer inter­ac­tion, includ­ing voice-based recipes on its mobile app.

For illy­caf­fè CEO, Mas­si­m­il­iano Pogliani, the impor­tant part is keep­ing expe­ri­ences rel­e­vant and per­son­al no mat­ter how many peo­ple his com­pa­ny is reach­ing out to. “We have 7 mil­lion inter­ac­tions with cus­tomers every day,” he says. “That means we have 7 mil­lion oppor­tu­ni­ties to delight some­body, but also 7 mil­lion oppor­tu­ni­ties to dis­ap­point them”.

Silversea Cruises

Sil­versea Cruis­es has epit­o­mised per­son­alised cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. In addi­tion to being one of the most lux­u­ri­ous cruise expe­ri­ences in the world, the Mona­co-based com­pa­ny also has an employ­ee to guest ratio of near­ly 1:1 on all of its ships, ensur­ing each customer’s needs are tak­en care of.

The chal­lenge for Sil­versea Cruis­es was to raise the qual­i­ty of its dig­i­tal prop­er­ties to match this white glove on-board expe­ri­ence. In large part, this meant being able to per­son­alise its dig­i­tal con­tent and com­mu­ni­ca­tions based on the des­ti­na­tions, accom­mo­da­tions, and excur­sions that indi­vid­ual cus­tomers are most inter­est­ed in.

A new inte­grat­ed ana­lyt­ics and tar­get­ing plat­form has allowed the cruise line to gain a sin­gle view of each cus­tomer and what they’re search­ing for, which mar­keters can then use to tai­lor trav­el plans, offers, and con­tent at scale. Cru­cial­ly, Sil­versea Cruis­es also cut web­site devel­op­ment times by 40% and can now deliv­er new con­tent 30% faster with Adobe Expe­ri­ence Man­ag­er. And on the top­ic of speed, they achieved this entire trans­for­ma­tion in just nine months.

McLaren Automotive

Some­times, deliv­er­ing great expe­ri­ences is about build­ing some­thing new alto­geth­er. McLaren Auto­mo­tive makes some of the world’s most thrilling super and sports cars, but how could it relate the vis­cer­al feel­ing of dri­ving its vehi­cles through marketing?

The answer was to embrace the pos­si­bil­i­ties of 3D. In late 2018, it launched the McLaren Auto­mo­tive Real-Time Con­fig­u­ra­tor (MARC). Using the 3D plat­form in its deal­er­ships, cus­tomers can con­fig­ure every com­po­nent of their vehi­cles in real-time, from the engine to the colour of door pan­els. In short, buy­ers can build and see their dream car come togeth­er before their eyes.

Today, McLaren is putting the foun­da­tions in place to repeat the suc­cess of MARC with equal­ly engag­ing expe­ri­ences across every plat­form, in both three and two dimen­sions. The first step, for Glob­al Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Man­ag­er David Mat­ting­ly, is to reduce frag­men­ta­tion and make bet­ter use of the high-qual­i­ty con­tent McLaren has at its disposal.

In his words, “We want cus­tomers every­where to enjoy the same seam­less expe­ri­ence, we want to ensure prop­er gov­er­nance of our data, and we want to enable growth through localised con­tent. All of this requires us to uni­fy our oper­a­tion and trans­form from the ground up.”

For all three of these brands, this is just one step in an on-going trans­for­ma­tion. By build­ing a strong foun­da­tion today, they have set them­selves up to car­ry this pos­i­tive momen­tum for­ward and find new ways of reach­ing cus­tomers through cre­ative and per­son­alised experiences.

Want to find out how your brand can com­bine cus­tomer insight with a more scal­able approach to con­tent? Click here to see how we can help.