Whether You Tap, Scan or Voice Command, Creative Commerce Is the Future

Hand holding cell phone with text that reads "Creative commerce is the future"

You may have seen recently that Cannes Lions announced that the Creative e-Commerce Lions have become the Creative Commerce Lions.

Kudos to [Lions President] Phil Thomas and his team for this decision. What seems to be a minor change is, in fact, a major step forward. Let’s be honest. If there’s something Cannes Lions does really well it’s a relentless drive to evolve and fearlessly change categories to capture the times. And the team does this by listening to industry. 

So, when we brought to the table a proposal to reimagine a category to better represent the commerce side of the business, the festival organisers heard us. My point is that the Creative Commerce category is not only true to the reality of our clients’ business, it also shifts our own mindset of adding an ‘e’ or a ‘digital’ prefix to everything we create, something that often feels outdated.

Whether you click to buy, tap to buy, scan, swipe up to or even use your voice to command to buy, every single exercise of commerce, online or offline, has an ‘e’ component. Unless, of course, you’re still paying with coins and bills and, to be honest, I haven’t had a single coin in my pocket through the whole of 2021.

Creative commerce brings the element of conversion to brand experiences, making sure we give customers the option to buy online or in physical space. Technology now allows us to do that so exactly that conversion is no longer limited to a product page site. We’ve moved on.

With conversion at the heart of what brands crave to grow – and they want to sell at the all the places where people buy - creative commerce delivers brilliant ideas that build brand equity and conversion together. Next year’s jury has the chance to shape how this category will look for years to come, and that is awesome! Think of the first ever jury behind the Titanium category and the responsibility that brought with it. As a firm believer in creative commerce, here are some thoughts I’d love the jury to take into consideration when judging the best work from all over the world. 

1. Saving the world vs saving the business

Don’t get me wrong, brand purpose is great, and brands do have the responsibility to build a better world, but I would definitely love to see this category focus on work that saves brands and their business. It is ‘commerce’, after all. There is an exciting subcategory: Sustainable Commerce, where commerce and saving the world intersect, so let’s keep that there. 

2. Post-pandemic times

We dedicated the last two Cannes Lions festivals to reward the work that best represented the difficult times we lived in. Rightly so. But creatively, we need to turn the page. Markets have opened up, businesses are back, events and physical experiences, too. Yes, there will be set-backs, and though Covid is not going to go away anytime soon, we’ll learn to live with it. So, educating people about hand washing and getting vaxxed should no longer sit at the top of the brief.

3. Metaverse vs meetaverse

A lot of work will show up embracing the metaverse, but jurors might bear in mind that commerce creativity embraces the physical world too. Meeting up in person is more important than ever before. I’m just back from post-pandemic Dubai, a market now out for revenge retail and mall gatherings, making it clear that the very last thing people want is a virtual world.

And we’re seeing this play out the world over. So, hybrid in-person experiences enhanced by digital components are not just valid, they are our reality. It’s the reason we are moving away from a fully ‘e’ category and embracing a much wider canvas.

4. It’s not the category to dump your NFTs

NFTs could easily be a full, stand-alone category considering how popular they’ve become. Brands including Taco Bell, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Nike and Twitter have leapt into the increasingly popular market, with more joining by the day. My view is that, spread across many categories, Creative Commerce might feel like a sweet spot for many – the question would be: how do they add value to creative commerce?

5. Big vs small/scale vs impact

We often tend to see categories judged with the same stick/criteria. “Show me scale”, “show me PR”, “BIG BIG BIG”. I hate to break it to you, but that’s not the reality of creative commerce briefs. We look at impact, not scale, and, in my view, we need to elevate and celebrate iconic tactics. Big ideas that changed the world? Titanium will reward that. Look instead for clever work where commerce and culture intersect.

Let’s celebrate brands that are reimagining commerce beyond a transaction.

- Manuel Bordé is Global Chief Creative Officer at VMLY&R COMMERCE

Originally published in Shots