Cyber Lions Q&A with Shnoosee Bailey

HeyHuman’s Creative Director, Shnoosee Bailey, has been speaking to Shots ahead of this year’s Cyber Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The conversation ranged right across the industry challenges for the Digital Age, taking in our neuroscientific research and ’Brain-Friendly Creative’ approach…

Does the multitude of digital platforms now available to an advertiser make reaching consumers more difficult, or less?

Both. It’s functionally easier, but it can be harder emotionally. The evolving nature of digital and the explosion of opportunity is incredible. In many ways, there has never been a more exciting time to be a creative.

On the flip side, what goes up must come down. As the channels and platforms increase, there is a battle for attention and a decrease in people’s emotional engagement – leading to shallower brand relationships.

So, we need to be more deliberate in the creative choices we make. We need to wage a judicious charm offensive, not try to blanket-bomb the media hit list.

Are brands now more aware of how they need to approach and engage their customers, and what their place is in a consumer’s life?

Brands are improving but, discussing this with Dan Machen – our Director of Innovation – I think, in general, this awareness could be higher.

Over the last two years, Dan and our team at HeyHuman have been deep-diving into neuroscience to look at available attention and emotional engagement when people are multi-screening. What we’ve found is that people are almost always in a state of constant partial attention, reducing the amount they have available to decode complex ideas.

What this means in terms of our approach is a balance between ’lean forward’ storytelling and ’lean back’ digital reinforcement, for creative work that’s easy for people to process. We’ve created our Brain-Friendly Creative guidelines to promote awareness of the slim part of people’s lives that brands can occupy.

Do you think that VR and AR will have a big say in this year’s Cyber Lions or for future winners – and have brands embraced this new technology?

I think that Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality is the hot topic this year. Certainly it hogged the headlines coming out of the CES conference, and Dan returned from SXSW with a 360º camera so that we can push into VR more at HeyHuman.

As ever, though – a bit like 3D cinema – the tech won’t necessarily promote
mass adoption immediately. We need to look at what really connects VR and AR to make the experience not just ‘something I saw’, but ‘something that happened to me’.

What platform do you think is the most powerful or relevant way to reach
a consumer?

It depends entirely on the job you are trying to do. In general, though, we are sensorial creatures and the more we can engage sight, sound and feeling – which VR could be really good for – the more people will champion us amid the sea of stuff they are exposed to daily.

So, what is your prediction for the next evolutionary step in this category?

I think we are on the verge of the ‘Age of Experience’ and, as such, we’ll need to go up a level from online video to really stand out in the slew of VR content; this might be haptic feedback, to make the VR feel more real…

What will the jury be looking for, do you think, when they’re debating this years Cyber Lions entries?

Building on the dominant themes of Cannes 2015, I think the jury’s debate will be informed by social purpose and potentially empowering diversity. Also, how multi-screen campaigns can be informed by real-time co-created elements.

As the late, great David Bowie said, the creative space is defined by “the grey space in the middle” – between the artist and their audience. This is doubly true for digital creativity.


Can you name one piece of work that you would define as being eligible for this category and which has impressed you in the last 12 months?

The New York Times Magazine’s work in VR – sharing portraits of children driven from their homes by war and persecution – broke new ground and was fearless in its grasp of VR as a new storytelling tool. And its giving out of 1.1m Google Cardboard headsets to subscribers was, albeit on a smaller scale, as significant as Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s creation of the worldwide web, in terms of connecting humanity en masse.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since Cannes 2015?

As film director JJ Abrams said recently at SXSW, we need to make things
real in order to have audiences connect with our work: “Even though we now have access to amazing technology, it’s important not to lose sight of what makes us human.”

So in moving forward with digital, we need to push our work to bring human touches that really connect with the audience.

Will you be attending the festival this year and what are you most looking forward to about it?

Pitches allowing, yes! Beach parties aside, it’s a great opportunity to compare notes with other creative leaders from around the world. I highly recommend going just for the opportunity to talk to creativity’s best and brightest – and be inspired by the best creative work in the world.

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