Cannes 2014: You always have to take any talk by Google at a conference like this with a relative pinch of salt. There’ll be a few mushy films designed to tug at the heart-strings, a lot of big claims, and a spot of ‘holier-than-thou’ quotes that can leave a few shifting a little uncomfortably in their seats.
But make no bones about it, some of the content that Google has to show is pioneering. It’s jaw-droppingly innovative and immensely exciting when you take a second to think at the potential implications.
This is precisely what Google uses the entire Cannes Lions festival to do. Not only have they a slot on the Speaker Podium, but they also have without doubt the best external exhibit too, the Creative Sandbox, which helps Google interact with delegates on a more intimate basis – allowing people to try out new tech, indulge in Google-branded freebies, and most importantly of all, drink beer and play Table Football.
Yes, there were plenty of sickly films. Yes there were bold statements that only stopped a fraction short of claiming that Google is solving world peace. But the likeable Arora and the content on show ensured the session was my festival highlight so far.
“We are in the middle of a revolution,” Arora claimed. “Just think about some of the things that have disappeared in the past five years, and think about what might also disappear in the next five. DVD Players? Books? Cash? The rate of change is incredible.
And so if we are in a revolution, and if it really is Google driving it, what can we learn from them? Here, Arora shared a few thoughts and theories that he’d picked up from his time at Google.
Solve First Principles – Sometimes we can spend too much time trying to solve subsidiary problems, but if you really want to make a difference, you have to tackle problems from the ground up, you have to solve first principle problems.
Make the Complex Simple – This seems to already be a theme of the festival. Google are undoubtedly the experts in this area – you just have to look at how little the main Google.com page has changed over the years. By all means pedal hard in the background, but when it comes to technology in particular, you have to make things accessible to the wider public. Too many ingenious tech brands fail by not doing this.
Think 10x – Google has some amazing ‘moonshot’ projects that set out to do things that seem completely farfetched at the time. But with technology allowing us to do far more, there really are reasons to aim higher. That’s how you get a reputation for innovation in the way Google does. And why you have bloggers like me fawning over a company whose main core business is providing search results and selling advertising.
Have a Health Disregard for the Impossible – “Technology for technology’s sake is interesting,” Arora explained, “but being part of people’s lives is even more empowering…make radical improvements in small areas, do lots of different things…don’t just create products and services that try to change the world, but create platforms that allow everyone around the world to innovate.” See, told you Google loved a big, brash statement – but it’s an inspiring philosophy.
And there’s the rub. Google may be a lot of things to a lot of people. And it may be annoying reading more ‘pie in the sky’ quotes from them at an advertising industry conference. But if agencies actually lived by the guidelines provided by Arora above, wouldn’t the industry be a far more interesting place?