award winners

Cannes calling: why supply chains are the new supermodels of today

Footballers, supermodels. Everyone gets more attention than supply chains. Until now! About exports, holiday supplies, collaboration, and the Swedish number.

Speaking in football terms, I am kind of the guy “offside” in our fabulous magazine forum. I’m actually happy with that :-), and my services to you include frequently casting my radar beams across the marketing realm. 

Spotting trends of interest for supply chains – that’s my usual mission. But this time, I was completely struck by reflection. Amazingly, the biggest and most glamorous advertising festival in the world fell in love with supply chains! All by itself! How cool is that?

5 Titanium Awards – nearly all of them involve the supply chain. And one even re-invented it for creativity’s sake.

The Cannes Lions are something like the annual high feast of the creative people. 6 hot days on the Promenade de la Croisette centering on jury judgments, jet set decadence, and just-in-time-drama. Always searching for something different, unique, and game-changing, it seems the advertising guys took a close look at their clients’ supply chains this year. And surprise, surprise: Don Draper’s descendants discovered some unique communication propositions – even with social relevance. 

My favorite supply chain supermodel – the biggest and most brillant idea first: Brewtroleum.

One of Heineken’s brands in New Zealand did nothing short of inventing a new product including its very own supply chain: Brewtroleum – a new, green eco-fuel complete with its outlets (gas stations). And the best about it: the fuel is won from the breweries’ waste. Go ahead and show this case study to those marketing nerds with big glasses :-).

The jury’s grand prix supermodel – and rank two on my own supply chain hit list: no supply on Black Friday

It’s every US trader’s biggest dread: no supply on Black Friday. And that was exactly the idea: together with its agency, the outdoor chain REI decided to keep its stores’ doors closed in the US on “Black Friday” – the day following Thanksgiving. It decided to “opt out”. If you know about the relevance of this major sales event in the US, you understand exactly how much courage this decision has taken.

And by the way: “Titanium” is the crème de la crème of advertising awards in Cannes. It honors truly outstanding ideas – and those that have proven highly effective in pushing sales. Anyway, the supply chain performance at REI is really quite impressive. While “not delivering anything for a day” may not sound like a great challenge, the tremendous sales growth before and after Black Friday resulted in great demand that needed to be fulfilled.

The other supermodels: more Titanium Awards with supply chain relevance

A nice idea, I thought, is also BURGER KING calling on McDonald’s for a truce with their collaboration proposal in “MACWHOPPER” – see it here. I like the unique approach to “cross-brand burger production” at the end – basically a supply chain collaboration and diversity supermodel. Krylon – with its DIY spray paint – is another one on my personal hit list: the chemical company Sherwin-Williams came up with a clever metaphor about democratizing production through recoloring and recycling.  And excellent green supply chain sustainability supermodel.

And finally: “The Swedish Number” (… say +46 40 85 011)

At the very end of May, I discussed just that with my colleague Ted Roth in Sweden: the Swedish number. Possibly in a slightly different context. The Swedish Tourist Association came up with this: by dialing a certain number, you could speak to a random Swede and learn first-hand about the country and its people. Watch “The Swedish Number” here. If you have questions about Sweden, why not mix things up and give this number a try?

Or just dial +46 40 85 011. Because in terms of creativity to improve your supply chain, our local team is in no way less worthy of an award than the Titanium contenders ;). At least a major manufacturer of athletic footwear and clothing based in Bavaria, Germany (without three stripes…) thinks so, too. We will publish more about it here – at the end of next week.

Back to the Titanium Award supermodels. I was really – and positively – intrigued to find supply chains at the very center of this year’s most prestigious advertising awards. Let’s face it, regulatory global trade issues and operational logistics aspects are not the most attractive topics to read about. And despite their relevance, supply chains still get way too little appreciation and attention. So, I hope this helps to change public perception. After all, supply chains are at the center of everything, right? And we need more spotlight on those supermodels!

What are your favorites from this year’s Cannes Lions? Or even better – do you have a supply chain supermodel story to share? And what’s your marketing guys’ view? Either way – I look forward to your feedback on XING, or on LinkedIn.