The Holmes Report: Cannes: One Takeaway From This Year

WE in the News


SOURCE: https://www.holmesreport.com/long-reads/article/cannes-one-takeaway-from-this-year's-festival-reputation-matters

Cannes: One Takeaway From This Year's Festival, "Reputation Matters"

The Holmes Report's annual Cannes CEO Roundtable finds a growing realization among marketers that "purpose drives reputation and reputation drives business."

Paul Holmes, The Holmes Report, June 24, 2019

(Image courtesy of  The Holmes Report)

CANNES — The central role of issues such as purpose and brand activism at this year’s Cannes Festival of Creativity is a reminder to the PR industry that “reputation matters,” participants in the Holmes Report’s annual Cannes CEO roundtable agreed, during a wide-ranging discussion on the major themes, highlights and lowlights of this year’s event.

“The best speech I heard was [Unilever CEO] Alan Jope, who talked about the problems with fake purpose campaigns,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of industry giant Edelman. “He made it clear that if your agency is involved in ‘purpose-washing’ or ‘woke-washing’ Unilever is not going to work with you. That was really strong.”

Indeed, Jope’s warning that “woke-washing” was destroying trust resonated with all of our panel’s participants.

Ketchum chief executive Barri Rafferty suggested that Jope’s speech was just one example of the increased understanding that “companies have to change their approach to be more authentic,” while Rachel Catenach, president of FleishmanHillard in Greater China, felt there was a growing realization among marketers that “reputation matters” and Weber Shandwick president Gail Heimann said clients generally are coming to understand that “purpose drives reputation and reputation drives business.”

Melissa Waggener, founder and chief executive of WE Communications, said the trend was evident in discussions with her clients: “We are seeing more people in the C-suite saying, let’s start with purpose. Those conversations are taking place behind closed doors and there is an understanding that there has be a long-term commitment to make purpose authentic.”