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Learnings from a Young Cannes Lion

Posted: July 22, 2014

Sir John Hegarty spoke on behalf of today’s audience when he said: “It’s probably the most exciting time to be in the industry, but I’m confused by the fact that I’m not seeing more and more great work. With all this technology we should be getting better but we seem to be getting worse”.

This is a hard truth. It is also a theme that ran throughout the talks at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year. How do we get people to like us again? Not only that, how do we get us to like us again? There is a great emphasis on mobilizing the communication troops to work towards a cause greater than our own. Bono said it well when he said “there is something about pulling punches for a voice that is not your own”. Not only would you be safer if the world held retrenchments based on what you have done for it, but you’d also find greater joy in your daily output.

The speakers each shared their thoughts. Common trends were emotive storytelling versus story doing, communicating without advertising and being a solution-driven brand.

As a young woman, I am also happy to say that another big theme was gender equality, specifically concerning women in senior positions. We attended a refreshing seminar by SheSays, which discussed the need for women to become better at being sisters, because after all “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”.

It’s difficult to pinpoint just one highlight from the festival. It’s a kaleidoscope of experiences. Focus on one spot; there are a million others in your periphery.

A fantastic element of the festival was being able to feel completely submersed, and yet also having a bird’s-eye-view of what this industry is capable of. There are so many ways to get involved. Press, film, direct marketing, activation and innovation. Pick up a pencil and draw, pick up a pen and write. You’re an engineer? Great! Let’s invent. Are you a quick-thinker with know-how on finance? We need you! Bono and Johnny Ive opened up their conversation to the audience in the spirit of just this. They recognised that obstacles are overcome when you draw in people from different areas of expertise. The result was great ideas on tap, much like the rose at the festival.

Throughout the festival we found many of the smaller seminars more creative, intimate and much more rewarding. We enjoyed talks by Tim Wagner on the lifeline of a great idea and Keith Reinhard on passion. Another session that stood out was The Naked Truth. Where Tim Leake flawlessly crafted his presentation around achieving successful client/agency relationships through nudity, which certainly kept everyone’s attention (#GetNakedAtCannes).

At the festival brands triumphantly demonstrated what it is to create an experience and connection with a customer. The Google Creative Sandbox was a perfect example of a successfully implemented brand culture. Design your own T-shirt on the spot, code your own free cocktail, try out Google Glasses, attend a Lego workshop and watch a live talk from the comfort of a beanbag on the beach.

South Africans proudly represented at Cannes, and we danced with them all night (including a crew of intrepid adventurers from Joe Public), at the notorious SA party hosted by Egg Films. Along with some great names from the SA creative industry, other international players in attendance at the festival were: David Droga, Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Marcello Serpa, Scott Belsky, Yves Behar, PJ Pereira, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sarah Jessica Parker, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Ralph Fiennes, Kayne West, Spyke Jones, Courtney Love, Dynamo & Jared Leto… to name a few.

Simply said, Cannes equips you with drive, instills passion and proves the power of a good idea. This mix inspires one to dive full force into their next brief. We are so oiled to get working.