Cannes 2012

Facebook Courts Creative Community at Cannes Ad Festival

Convenes Council of Adland's Top Global Creatives Amid Slumping Stock Price

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As the Cannes Lions ad festival kicks off this week, Facebook is corralling another council of advertising heavyweights to weigh in on the future of advertising on the social network.

This time the focus is on chief creative officers from agencies around the world. Called the creative council, the gathering will include such chief creative officers as Jeff Benjamin for JWT North America; Shanghai-based Amir Kassaei for DDB Worldwide and London-based James Hilton for AKQA, who have been invited to sit down during the ad festival in the South of France and talk about how to make advertising on the social network better.

While it makes sense to gather creative folks during an event designed to celebrate the best work in the business, it's not creative that has proven to be a stumbling block for Facebook, but media. While advertisers are eager to create pages and apps to interact with their consumers for free, some have said they're not willing to pony up for paid advertising with Facebook.

General Motors CMO Joel Ewanick most recently and very publicly dropped the bomb that the automaker, which is also the world's fourth biggest ad spender, would be pulling paid ads on Facebook just days before the company's highly anticipated IPO. Mr. Ewanick last fall sat on Facebook's first such council, which had a client and media agency CEO focus.

So why exactly is Facebook coming to the creative community when it has a media problem?

The creative council in Cannes isn't about goosing media spending, at least not directly. The council's core mission is not to push paid distribution, said Facebook's Director of Global Creative Solutions Mark D'Arcy.

Instead, Facebook hopes that creating better ads, pages and apps for the platform itself, as well as more social advertising in any media, will encourage marketers to spend their media dollars with Facebook to promote them.

"If the work is better, the investment that amplifies those idea is going to be better," Mr. D'Arcy said, who will attend the creative council along with Facebook's Carolyn Everson; Blake Chandlee, VP-global agencies and accounts; and Brad Smallwood, head of measurement among others.

"There's nobody who says they don't do Facebook," Mr. D'Arcy added.

So what do council members hope to get out of the meeting?

Most issues with Facebook are technical, said AKQA's Mr. Hilton over Cokes on the Majestic's pool terrace. He'll be boarding a boat on the Mediterranean to attend the meeting later this week. He'd also like a peek at the company's product roadmap; Facebook's frequent changes can make it tough to plan for campaigns months in advance.

"It would be great if Facebook could work in a beta environment with agencies," he said. "Here's a feature set we're thinking of bringing out, how would you work with it?"

Mr. Hilton would also like a bit more creative control over how his brands express themselves on Facebook.

"From a design point of view, a little more freedom would be nice, he said. "How clever can you be with a jpg you put in a box?"

That's not to say Mr. Hilton isn't bullish on Facebook. "if you look at our body of work, our best stuff couldn't have been achieved without Facebook," he said, adding that , while its not standard practice in advertising, the best brands do end up shifting media spending to promote great creative ideas.

With the new council, Facebook is also relaunching its online tool for agencies, Facebook Studio. Omnicom Group's EVB handled the redesign. The new site will now also include online courses for Facebook advertising, including run-downs of what's possible on the platform. Topics such as how to measure returns on Facebook advertising, which has been a major concern for marketers and agencies alike, will be included in the next round of courses.

Here's the full list of creative council:

  • Toshiya Fukuda, CEO-executive creative director, 777
  • James Hilton, chief creative officer, AKQA
  • Rob Reilly, chief creative officer, CPB
  • Tor Myhren, chief creative officer, Grey
  • David Droga, founder and CEO, Droga5
  • Nick Law,chief creative officer,R/GA
  • Jeff Benjamin, chief creative officer,JWT
  • Colleen DeCourcy, founder and CEO,Socialistic
  • Linus Karlsson, chief creative officer-global brands, McCann
  • Mike Lazerow, co-Founder and CEO, Buddy Media
  • Rob Feakins,chief creative officer-president, Publicis
  • Mark Tutssel, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett
  • Amir Kassaei, worldwide chief creative officer, DDB
  • Mark Waites, chief creative officer and founder, Mother
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