From Brand Authority to Brand Authorship

Branding professionals are facing a new paradigm and Cannes Festival 2013 demonstrated it.

This new paradigm celebrates the shift from brand authority to brand authorship.

Brand authority through product superiority is a prerequisite for leadership in any product category but the big brand opportunity is to elevate that authority to authorship.

Brand authorship is about telling stories and, more so, about making stories using the power of technology. Stories to share, comment on and spread all around the world. Technology has multiplied the connections between consumers and media, with ideas that engage travelling from screen to screen across the globe at the speed of a click or a touch.

The reason the recent Dove campaign ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ has won so many Lions this year is not only the creativity but also the spectacular results (150 million views – more than 4 billion impressions) generated by the powerful insight that only 4% of women consider themselves good looking, while 80% say they feel anxious about their appearance.

DOVE real beauty sketches - Kela

The campaign used a criminal sketch artist to draw women as they described themselves and as other people described them. The gap between the two drawings demonstrates with brio that women are more beautiful than they think.

The Lions also recognised this massive hit is in tune with Dove’s brand mission – “to help women see beauty as a source of confidence and happiness rather than a source of anxiety”.

Brand authorship is shaping a new agenda for marketers: creating worlds not ads. Both  Chief Creative Officers on the agency side and CMOs on the client side agree and call for more creativity. Muhtar Kent, The Coca-Cola Company CEO, interviewed by Sir Martin Sorrell wants to build a creative ecosystem, saying the Coca-Cola brand role is no longer “about creating positive impressions but positive expressions”.

What is so exciting about this new creativity is the goal it serves. All major brands and the companies they belong to have understood (or are beginning to understand) the need to establish a clear brand purpose beyond the product category’s agenda. Their purpose in life.

Vivienne Westwood reminded a captivated audience that “the world had forgotten more than it knows” and that culture should inspire everything we do. Coca-Cola, Advertiser of the year, outlined the shift “from creative excellence to content excellence”.

So the brand-first companies are moving from shelf to self giving a radical new dimension & scale to the insights they collect as Danone demonstrated it with brio (and many Lions) with the latest Evian “Live Young” campaign. Psychologists say that when we face ourselves in a mirror we see ourselves 10 years younger. Evian went a bit further with the outstanding campaign “Baby & Me” where adults see themselves as…babies! The ad is creating a growing worldwide buzz, even above the Dove campaign, and led to a new app where you can re-create your image as a baby!


Defining that purpose is a great responsibility because it is a strategic decision involving the company at all levels. It is not by coincidence that Agency CEOs were interviewing client CMOs and CEOs at the same time. As did Maurice Levy, Publicis CEO, with Jean-François van Boxmeer, Heineken CEO, together with CMO Alexis Nasar.

The choice of the right purpose for the brand in order to connect with a contemporary audience deals with the brand’s legacy, the brand DNA and the company roots while also considering what is high on the world’s agenda.  This included social responsibility as Maurice Levy outlined in questioning Jean-François van Boxmeer about alcohol abuse.

Every company is now a media company stated Daniele Fiandaca from the Cheil agency harnessing the power of social media in what is now called real-time marketing. Think of Oreo’s timely tweet “You can still dunk in the dark” during the 2013 Superbowl black-out.

When listening to Deb Roy, Chief media scientist @Twitter, you understand why. He called this the social soundtrack: basically most smartphone and tablet users use their mobile devices while also watching TV to react in real time to the content. This emergent worldwide conversation is not only adding scale to the broadcast but influences its perception by taking on board what other viewers think of the event. Big data is no longer a concept but a striking reality!

Patrice Civanyan

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