We asked visitors to Cannes Lions for their impressions of the festival.
Issue 40 | September 2016
Directory asked a number of different visitors to Cannes Lions for their impressions of the festival. Over the next few pages you can read their very different views.
The Global Perspective
Cannes is a Barometer of the Industry's Health
Mark Tutssel, Global Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Worldwide and Creative Chairman of Publicis Communications
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is the most important advertising festival of the year. It's the world's greatest celebration of creativity in communications, a festival of imagination and a platform to showcase the bravest, most exciting and innovative thinking from all corners of the industry. Even as the festival continues to grow each year with new categories and new audiences, at its core, its primary purpose is to identify and reward the world's finest creative ideas.
Cannes serves as a barometer of the health of our industry — how are we faring when it comes to using the power of creativity to drive transformational business impact for brands? It provides the industry the opportunity to step out of the everyday and focus on the thing we all hold sacred — the quality of ideas. This year, more than 43,000 entries were submitted, which was a new record. The global benchmark of creative excellence is only getting higher.
The compass to the future
Before the festival, I published Leo Burnett's annual "Cannes Predictions." The 25 campaigns on the list went on to win nine Grand Prix, three Titanium and more. More enlightening were the emerging trends set to steer the industry toward an exciting future. The shift from innovation to invention is thrilling. Invention is the zeitgeist of the moment. Technology has been the biggest driving force for marketers to push the boundaries on what is possible. Samsung's "BrainBAND" is a game-changer that could lead to reduced concussive head injuries in high-contact sports. DB Breweries' "Brewtroleum" created a cleanburning, conflict-free fuel from the byproduct of beer with a persuasive message: "Save the world. One sip at a time." With the alchemy of creativity and technology, brands are limited only by their imaginations.
The Art Institute of Chicago's "Van Gogh BnB" activation is a brilliant example of how brands are finding new partners to execute ideas that would not have been possible five years ago. This is Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley coming together to turn emerging platforms into creative canvasses.
While the plethora of platforms available to us today has made it easy for us to connect to people, it has been more difficult to connect with them. The Spanish Lottery won the first Cyber Grand Prix for Spain with "Justino," a Pixar-esque animated film captured the hearts of millions of viewers. What makes it a Cyber winner is its outstanding achievement in creating a holistic package that reached consumers across multiple platforms with tailor-made content for each.
It's critical for brands to maintain relevance, and injecting themselves in a high-profile national conversation is one way to do it. "FU2016" a campaign to promote Netflix's "House of Cards," hijacked a news event to great effect and demonstrated that there's no limit to the size of conversation a brand can enter. This is a brand that has its finger on the pulse of society, which is why it won an Integrated Grand Prix.
Lastly, one of the most celebrated campaigns at Cannes this year was REI's "#OptOutside," which won Grand Prix for Promo and Activation, and Titanium. The retailer's counterintuitive move to shut its doors during the year's biggest sales event proved the brand embraced its authentic truth. America has an insatiable appetite for brands that are proud to live out their core values. And we, as marketers, understand that truth isn't the truth until people believe you.
The power and potency of creativity
It's a rare opportunity, the agencies within Publicis Communications have had the privilege to work with four iconic brands that have been crowned Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year: Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Heineken and Samsung. These brands believe in the power and potency of creativity to drive organizational success. Cannes' role as an incubator that seeds, nurtures and celebrates ideas continues to engage and inspire the industry. There's a reason why an increasing number of CMOs of blue chip brands are drawn to the Palais des Festivals. And that's why even after decades of participating, I continue to be wide-eyed over the breadth of quality ideas I get to experience every year.
The Festival Perspective
Listening to the jurors
Rob Dembitz, Corporate Development Director at Cannes Lions
The number one question I get asked post-Festival is, "What was the standout moment for you?" And it's always almost impossible to answer, because there are so many moments, so much adventure, such a vast array of opportunities to gather inspiration and learning from.
This year was no different. On Day 1, David Copperfield set the room alight (literally) with some astonishing illusions live on stage. The new Start-up Village - a veritable hum of opportunism and excitement as new people came together - was amazing to watch unfold. That impromptu moment of applause that greets an award-winning campaign, such as when Jukedeck (Innovation Lions) was shown, always gets my spine tingling. And the joy of hearing about the impact of a great talk, such as the stimulating, passionate and intelligent the WWE (yes... wrestling) seminar at Lions Entertainment; a brand that has survived, evolved and grown for over 50 years.
But, for all these memorable moments, the real standouts for me happen beyond the gaze of attendees. The great privilege that comes with my role is being able to watch and listen to the Juries debate, discuss and dissect the work. This is the single most important thing at Cannes Lions - without this process, which is at the heart of what we do, and without which the rest of the Festival could not exist.
Bringing the most respected industry figures together, from all around the world, is no mean feat. Getting the balance right is critical and complex, and the process of judging itself is intense and demanding for all involved. Yet year after year, jury after jury, amazingly bright A-list teams are formed, bonds are created and life-long friendships blossom.
To hear these people, all senior, all brilliant, dismantle and analyse, every piece of work is one of the greatest learning opportunities anyone in the industry can have. It is an honour to be able to sit there and listen to them. Trust me, judges care passionately about the message they are sending with their decisions, and this is why so many of them debate long into the night before deciding Lions. It's common to finish well past 1am and determining the Grand Prix alone can take several hours. And so it should.
We understand this value and are always looking for ways to distil and share the learnings that would otherwise happen behind closed doors, which is why we have added content sessions like "Insights from the Jury Room" and "Tours of the Work". But rightly, the conversation in that room should be private - because this is what allows the rigorous, pressure-free deliberation that ensures what is eventually awarded is worthy.
Preserving this privacy means I can't reveal all the details about my standout moment. But I can tell you it was a debate between two impassioned judges who thrashed it out about a piece of work for over twenty minutes. Like a Djokovic-Murray tennis match, each unplayable match-winning shot was returned with power and precision. And then, from nowhere, a third jury member delivered the "smash". Game, set and match. The jury voted, the decision was made.
I learned so much from this and I challenge you to do the same. Debate the Work. Analyse it. Learn from it. It's why the Festival matters. It's why creativity matters.
The Social Perspective
Cannes is now a festival of creative business
Daniele Fiandaca, Co-Founder of Creative Social
While my career has changed significantly over the last decade, there has always been one constant – the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. An annual opportunity to find out who has been killing it with the work, catch up with some familiar faces from the other side of the world and drink copious amounts of rosé in the beating sun of the French Riviera.
This year my visit was fleeting. I flew in just for lunch. But an important lunch! It was the annual Creative Social lunch (with eighty creative leaders from around the world catching up with each other and with the major discussion points).
I came, I lunched and I flew out the same evening.
The truth is, I could not justify spending any more time there simply because I did not have the business meetings organised to justify it. For many Cannes has stopped being a Festival of Creativity but the Festival of creative business. It is where the leaders of agencies and brands bring their senior team together from around the world, where brands and agencies meet to talk business, where media and tech agencies entertain their way to bigger budgets while recruitment consultants pack their diaries with meetings with clients and prospective candidates from around the world.
However just because Cannes has changed for people like me, it would be short-sighted to suggest that it is any less a Festival of Creativity.
What I love about Cannes is its restlessness. In the last four years alone they have added the Innovation Lions, Digital Craft Lions and Glass Lions. And while many cynics just see this as just more excuses to print money, tell that to the 50 industry innovators who congregated at our latest Innovation Social and debated the latest Cannes winners, using it as a platform to discuss the future of our industry. Or to Wesley Ter Haar of MediaMonks, who, as jury president talks passionately about the effect of the Digital Craft Lions to inspire every digital production company everywhere to create better experiences. Or to the winners of the Glass Lions, campaigns which should inspire the whole industry to deliver more work that provides a positive impact on culture and society.
Both the Innovations Festival and Health Festival seem to be going from strength to strength while the See It Be It campaign Cannes Lions has created continues to support senior female creative talent, giving them a unique experience which will undoubtedly impact their careers. And let's not forget the extensive education programme that is inspiring the talent which represents the future of our industry.
So, while I believe Cannes is still a place for senior creatives to go to be inspired (just as they should come to our CS events as well), the impact of Cannes on creativity goes far beyond one week in June.
It represents a focal point for anyone who sees himself or herself as a creative leader to reflect on what they have been delivering in the past and what they need to deliver in the future to their agencies or their brands.
As Jon Wilkins, Chairman of Karmarama, put it at our CS Mini Cannes event in July, "Going to Cannes always creates a sense of anxiousness as it forces me think about what we could be doing better as an agency".
There is no doubt we will be back for lunch next year. I just hope I have a business reason to stay a bit longer next year.
The Speaker's Perspective
Cannes is for those open to new ideas
Sam Ball, Executive Creative Director, M&C Saatchi London
Why do people go to Cannes?
You don't have to be there for long before it becomes apparent none of us really know what the fuck we're doing, although of course we couldn't possibly admit it.
Why do people go to Cannes? We go to discover something.
What we discover depends on what we go for.
Delegates can be broadly divided into two categories. There's those who have being doing things a certain way for many years, they yearn for the good old days, before the tech companies threw the best parties. They are interested in each other. These people are holding us back.
The others are the curious ones. Age doesn't differentiate them, spirit does. They don't claim to know all the answers, they are open to new ideas and they are optimists. These guys are moving us forward.
Whenever I talk in Cannes it's with the latter group in mind. I thought in this short piece it would be most useful for them if I were to share some observations; a few from my point of view as a member of the audience.
If you're going to be on stage
Don't be afraid to tell people what they already know.
This seems counterintuitive, but some of the best talks I have been to told me things I already knew. Of course you have to package them in a surprising and entertaining way.
Half the battle in this game is creating good habits. Like most people I need to be constantly reminded of the important things.
Speak about something you find interesting.
Long before you worry about engaging an audience ask yourself, will it keep you engaged for the weeks it takes to write and rehearse deliver.
This year for instance, I created an experiment I really enjoyed conducting. I injected the creative department with a bunch of misfits. People who you would not ordinarily find working in the advertising industry; a cage fighter, a poet, an international rugby player, a philosopher, an adventurer, etcetera.
I set them all the same brief and I shared the results in the session, examining how diversity of thought can transform a creative idea.
Cannes audiences are generous.
In my experience the Cannes audience is always generous.
It is made up from a diverse group of people from around the world, making them less reserved than an all-British affair. This doesn't stop you shitting it just before you walk out but it does make the ride more enjoyable.
If you're going to be in the audience Avoid talks about the future.
No adman predicted Google, Facebook, Twitter or indeed the internet. They didn't see the digital revolution coming or the credit crunch. More recently they failed to predict Brexit or the rise of Trump and a whole host of other global events that ultimately change our industry.
Anything a speaker says with any certainty about the future is too broad to be useful anyway.
Beware the scam talks.
I call these scam talks because they lure you in with a catchy title and are fronted by a big industry cheese, but in reality are the thinly veiled sales pitches. For instance, Martin Sorrell isn't going to rock the boat with some provocative statement. He is going to talk about how good WPP is. He is there to drum up new business, not expand your mind.
You know as much as the speaker.
Don't believe everything you hear and don't just let other people's ideas replace yours. Like I said at the start, we're all making it up as we go along. However, if you do have an opinion then have the balls to get up and tell people about it. By doing so, who knows, you may discover something new.
The Dean's Perspective
The future of advertising is tucked away behind the Palais
Patrick Collister, Creative Director, The Zoo at Google EMEA
This year I saw a completely different side to Cannes Lions – literally as well as metaphorically.
I haven't missed a year at the festival since 1991 but until now I had no idea there was actually a conference centre behind the Palais.
In fact, not one but two different conference centres.
It tells you something about the expansion of Cannes Lions that this year the festival took up almost every square inch of the Palais and Palais 2.
Metaphorically, the other side I saw was Cannes the springboard.
Where the festival used to be retrospective, an awards show that looked back on the best work of the previous year, in recent times it has become a place where ideas begin.
In 2016, I was privileged to be the Dean of the Start Up Academy.
Around 250 start up businesses applied and ten were selected. For them, the week was an opportunity to reframe their propositions, sharpen their presentations and meet both potential partners and potential investors.
A springboard to growth, in other words.
Crucial to the success of the week was Jonathan Bradley, Partner at R/GA Ventures,sponsors of the Academy.
Jonathan went through his little black book to bring in speakers like Michael Roth, CEO of Interpublic, and Bob Greenberg, founder of R/GA.
"Isn't it curious," he noted, "that I am probably the only agency chief who actually spends any time inside the Palais looking at the work."
Then there was Scott Galloway. He came to Cannes to stir things up. He's Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business and the front man for a YouTube channel about marketing today called L2.
"Four Horsemen" has had over a million views. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCvwCcEP74Q
His advice to start ups:
1. Go for recurring revenue. Don't chase revenue, deliver it.
2. Ask for unreasonable numbers Sell for as much as you can. Don't just buy yourself another (slightly more comfy) job.. Mark Masterson from Google's Developer relations team added a third useful piece of advice.
3. ATFQ. Answer the f***ing question. Start every meeting answering the unspoken question, how will we make money together?
Other speakers included Brian Millar, Innovation Director of Sense Worldwide, Billie Whitehouse, founder of Wearable Experiments and Thales Teixeira, associate professor at Harvard Business School.
People used to addressing audiences of hundreds and thousands were all in our noisy little room, imparting their wisdom to just twenty five of us.
And what of the start ups themselves?
Wanderbrief - an Amstersdam-based company looking to revolutionise adland's freelance market.
Mush - the brainchild of Katie Massie-Taylor and Sarah Hesz who had discovered how lonely young mums can be.
Their community was all set for steady growth until Apple made them an "app we love".
They were in Cannes to find partners to help them manage their growth.
Mush was set up by two young mums to help young mums like themselves Strivr was a company that had developed VR techniques to help sports teams and key players develop their skills.
Journy was a personalised travel concierge.
Klickly was a way of making it easy to buy straight from a banner ad.
The other six were all adtech companies of one sort or another.
Which in itself tells you something about the future of advertising, when bots and robots are doing most of the heavy lifting.
I learned as much about the future of advertising from the presentations the ten made at the end of the week as from any of the seminars and workshops.
But that is the subject for another article another day.
In the meantime, in opening itself up to innovators in this way as well as by hosting the Innovation Lions awards, Cannes Lions is guaranteeing itself a future.