Cannes Lions 2024 – Aspirational Intelligence: How Advertising Can Shape Aspirations for the Better

Ayami Nakao, Kristian Manchester, and Third Domingo discuss the importance of challenging cultural aspiration.

What are your aspirations? What are society’s aspirations? This panel discusses the importance of understanding human aspiration and explains how advertising can challenge unhealthy cultural stigmas. The panel consists of Ayami Nakao, SCO of Hakuhodo, Kristian Manchester, Global CCO of Sid Lee, and Third Domingo, Founder of IdeasXMachina. 

SEI-KATSU-SHA: Understanding the Whole Person

Ayami Nakao begins the session by explaining that advertising should focus on the whole person. In traditional Japanese culture, this is called SEI-KATSU-SHA, the concept that consumers do more than just consume, but have complex desires and needs. The session poses three aspirational pillars: health and wellness, success and happiness, and love and intimacy. Each panel member showcased specific ways that advertising has challenged cultural aspiration and improved societal attitudes.

Health and Wellness:

Health and wellness is an integral human motivation and aspiration. But in what ways does society have unhealthy relationships with the ways we think about health and wellness? 

#Keepthegrey: Youth to Confidence

In 2022, Lisa LaFlamme was flamed for her grey hair. In response, Dove changed the colour of their logo to grey and created the hashtag, #KeepTheGrey. This activation challenged the societal stigmas surrounding health and wellness. #KeepTheGrey empowered women to have confidence in the natural progression of their bodies.

The Restaurant of mistaken orders: Tolerance to participation

Haduhoko created a restaurant that is served by those diagnosed with dementia. “The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders” encouraged the servers to laugh with guests about the small mishaps of everyday life. While Japanese society politely tolerates those with dementia, many dementia patients experience isolation. However, “The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders” allowed both guests and waiters to openly laugh and accept dementia instead of silently ignoring it

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Wastecase: Sustainability to Accountability 

Wastecare is a project for Aizome that created biologically revitalising clothing. The project uses the byproducts of the manufacturing to create a skincare product. This project allows clothing to be good for the environment, and healthy for the human body. 

Success and Happiness

Success and happiness are important parts of our entire lives, defining the ways we choose to work, live, and play.

Love Life Benefits: Efficiency to Meaning

Third Domingo shares how his Philippines-based advertising agency, IdeasXMachina (IXM), has created an innovative work-life compensation model. When any two people in his organisation get married, IXM pays for their wedding reception. Dates with a spouse, meals with parents, or finishing work early, are all paid for by the agency. This radical compensation model represents a cultural transformation from efficiency to meaning. Allowing those in his organisation to maintain a healthy balance between their workload and their loved ones. 

FILA: Performance to Culture

Kristian Manchester gave a teaser on Sid Lee’s latest work for Fila. The new brand positioning challenges how athletes view performance. Manchester shared that most sportswear advertising is focused on performance and end-results. However, Fila’s new campaign will highlight the importance of culture and enjoyment in sports.

Love & Intimacy

Intimacy is one of the most important parts of our personal lives. However, there are often stigmas and cultural gaps surrounding the way we love.

SKYN’s Ultimate Rise: Taboo to Dialogue

SKYN is an erectile dysfunction pill that challenges the cultural stigma surrounding ED. Sid Lee designed SKYN’s packaging to create striking humour and dialogue surrounding ED. Transforming a cultural stigma into a conversation.

The Family Cookvault: Intimate to Shared

In daily life, passed-down recipes are recorded informally as scrawlings in notebooks, post-its, or loose papers. That’s why IGA and Sid Lee created The Family Cookvault. The Family Cookvault is a collection of recipes from every corner of Quebec. The book was submitted to the national archives of Quebec, empowering the province of Quebec to share their intimate memories and experiences while preserving the province’s culture.

The train of memories: Destination to Journey

The Train of Memories is a spot for SOTETSU, a Japanese railway company which operates a passenger train line directly into tokyo. The spot follows a father and daughter through the length of their daily commute, and the progression of their lives. The film challenges the notion that simple moments are meaningless, instead, highlighting the meaning derived from our relationships and connections.

The session encourages marketers to identify and address the aspirations of their audience. Ayami Nakao concluded the session by sharing her aspiration to build the next generation of creatives – “not just with the most brilliant of mind, but with the kindest of hearts, and yes, with the dreamiest of aspirations.” 

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