Cannes Lions: Will Smith Says “Smoke and Mirrors” Marketing Is Over

Who would thought that the best marketing lesson will come from an actor? Out of the 100 speakers that took the stages in Cannes on Tuesday, the most surprising and professional talk came from Will Smith.

The seminar was a mixture of sincerity, acting and entertainment that mesmerized everyone. The 47-year old started with an unusual confession about his biggest commercial hit Wild Wild West which he sees as the lowest point in his career because it lacked meaning and purpose.

“Smoke and mirrors in marketing and sales is over. People are going to know really quickly and globally whether a product keeps its promises. I consider myself a marketer. My career has been strictly being able to sell my products globally and it’s now in the hand of fans. I have to be in tune with their needs and not trick them into going to see Wild Wild West.”

And this was the main theme behind his several stories, urging brands to shift their paradigm from gimmicks to purpose and consumers will do much more than just buying the product, they will become brand ambassadors. This will be achieved if marketers will be open to actively listen to feedback and make communication a two way conversation.

The funniest story about feedback for Will Smith involved his 10 year old daughter Willow. The little girl became an instant worldwide hit when she released her first music video “Whip My Hair”. Will Smith took her on a world tour with Justin Bieber. But at some point, the little girl got bored of the concerts and asked Will Smith to take her home. He didn’t listen and got the biggest parenting lesson in response. Willow went to her room and shaved her hair. Now, imagine the hairless girl singing “I whip my hair back and forth”. The world tour was over.

The seminar ended with everyone standing up and applauding the refreshing lesson about marketing and life in general: success is driven by purpose.