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Jane Austin in Cannes: brands should be obsessing over hard-hit consumers, not AI

Contrary to what many of the big players at Cannes Lions would have you believe, the industry’s biggest problem isn’t whether or not AI can generate a decent ad.

One much more pressing issue is the fact that the ad world doesn’t seem all that interested in consumers currently battling the cost of living crisis which, in the UK at least, is becoming an ever expanding group.

The impact of soaring inflation on ordinary people is most definitely not the topic du jour on the Croisette. Yet this week has seen the release of a Kantar study showing rising food prices in the UK are forcing people to make meals with fewer ingredients and, to save on energy bills, use microwaves rather than ovens to cook them. Meanwhile, food banks are having to buy groceries at high prices because donations are failing to meet soaring demand.

When brands do talk about the cost of living crisis it’s usually in the context of marketing to consumers in a more sensitive manner, or showing ‘support’ to consumers in need, though how that supports translates to real-world help is often less clear.

What urgently needs to be addressed is the rise of ‘greedflation’, with hundreds of big companies, including supermarkets and food manufacturers, boosting their profits during the cost of living crisis by hiking their prices.

Obviously, Cannes Lions spotlights work that does social good with awards like the Sustainable Development Goals Lions and the Glass Lion. But, if it helps to put hard-hit consumers higher up on the agenda, I’d suggest an additional awards category for any agency willing to take a stand against brands who line their pockets by lowering the living standards of struggling families.

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