After successful contributions to the Cannes Lions programme over the last two years, Mad Cow Films' head of content, Raven Pernille [above left], was invited to Ecuador to speak about content and how to tell effective, authentic stories as a brand.

"It is difficult to navigate creating something that’s authentic to both your brand and audience all while selling a product," said Pernille, "and marketeers are challenged by now having to deliver an insane increase in assets while budgets are staying more or less the same.”

Above: After two amazing days in the Andes, north of Quito at @mashpilodge, where cloud forest meets rainforest, I am off to Guayaquil for the Cannes Lions Edit.

Above: First engagement in Guayaquil is an intimate talk with about 30 of the staff at Ecuador’s largest newspaper, El Universo. It’s a room with half editorial, half commercial staff and like at any other publisher currently, debates about branded content are passionate and dividing.

Above: We spend an hour or so together debating what the future looks like and I give my five cents as to why they, as publishers, are in probably the most unique position to create authentic branded content. Although heated at times, I think we all walked out of that room understanding each camp a little better!

Above: After a night’s work, I wake up and prepare myself for the talk I am about to give at the official Cannes Lions Edit conference. Even after years of speaking publicly, teaching and presenting to clients, I feel the nerves. But it’s good to feel human too sometimes, right?

Above: I am the second speaker up and my aim for today is to inspire a market that is generally a little behind the UK and US to start creating and to do so with integrity, respect and purpose. I am talking about my journey in this field and some of the things I have learned along the way – including what I believe is the best fundament for good creative when it comes to branded content.

Above: Had loads of great questions in the Q&A and it was interesting to see that the common concerns were how to best work with existing talent such as influencers and how to choose the right format.

Above: After the talk, a woman from the audience comes up to me and shows me today’s paper where I and Mad Cow Films are featured on page seven with an article about the conclusions from the talk at El Universo. Feels very meta to take this photo.

Above: In between interviews and listening to some of the other amazing speakers talking about everything from how to create from within to the Internet of Things and psychology of lies, I am prepping for the oversubscribed afternoon workshop which I have dramatically named ‘Learn To Tell a Good Story Or Die Trying’.

Above: Hosting a workshop for 100+ people has its challenges but we managed to create some good ideas in 60 minutes! Each group we creating personal stories portraying the essence of Ecuador – in any given content format. Would love to see some of those shorts come to live!


Above: At dinner, all speakers are given a key to the city by the mayor of Guayaquil, which seems like an incredible honour and is just overall a really good summary of an incredibly giving, welcoming and warm culture we’ve been blessed with.

Above: Two hours of sleep later and I am at the airport and all glamour seems to be gone. I missed my connecting flight to Los Angeles so I have eight hours in El Salvador’s not too inspiring airport (but the lounge is pretty decent!) before spending the weekend at the always incredible AdColor conference and award show. Excited!

Raven Pernille is a Cannes Lions speaker and a content and branding expert who has worked for agencies, start-ups and brands. She is currently running the content division at Mad Cow Films as well as lecturing at a number of creative schools including the world renowned Hyper Island.

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