Useful Advertising for print and digital - Åkestam Holst at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

Joseph Clift

The seminars hosted by agencies at the 2011 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity had one prevailing theme: the existential challenge facing the industry in the wake of the digital revolution.

Today, the traditional ad agency retains creative leadership on print, TV and billboard campaigns. But this is not the case for the online and mobile channels, where agencies are fighting a turf war with everyone from small app developers to tech behemoths such as Google to become established as the primary provider of digital marketing services.

In an attempt to take back some of the ground lost to these new rivals, many agency people are looking north. Experts from the highly-connected, outward-looking, design-conscious Scandinavian nations have become some of the most sought-after digital marketing gurus. This trend can be seen in the increasing prominence of innovative "digital schools" such as Sweden's Hyper Island. And Scandinavian firms had a good showing at this year's Cannes Lions, with IKEA winning the coveted Advertiser of the Year award for its "creative, unconventional and humorous" campaigns.