With my fourth trip to the Cannes Lions International Festival
now behind me, and having thrived within the explosion of
creativity and energy, I turn to writing this blog, if for nothing
else, to organize my thoughts.
Cannes Lions International
Festival of Creativity is nearly impossible to synthesize or
summarize in its entirety, but I must make some sense of my
experience this year. Though I can hardly link to every great piece
of work or share the full remarks of all the compelling speakers, I
would like to share my thoughts on what stood out for me and show
some work that I’m still pondering days after the festival’s
Fresh perspectives on continued trends
The major themes of Cannes 2014 were not all that different from
those of years past. While still providing fresh perspectives and
unique insights, Cannes continues to reward
purpose-driven and environmentally friendly brands and programs. In
fact, Landor’s own Central Park Conservancy
trash and recycling receptacles were awarded a Product Design
A forum for thought
There were dozens of seminars and forums to spark the mind and
fuel creative discussion.
One great talk was Holler’s presentation “Planning to Stand Up,”
which put forth the notion that marketers could learn a lot from
stand-up comedians. Such a bold idea immediately caught my
attention. The presentation really stirred some thought. Any good
stand-up comic looks for universal insights of everyday life and
then finds a way to portray them in a funny light. It really isn’t
that different from our goal as creative marketers and designers.
For example, take a look at this video
of stand-up comedian Peter Kay dramatizing the disintegration of a
biscuit when dunked in a strong cup of English tea. From a
marketing standpoint, he’s proving the insight that consumers need
a biscuit that can stand up to the dunk.
Interestingly, all planners at Holler are required to train as
stand-up comics and perform; the point being that a planner’s core
skill is uncovering a new insight or helping his or her team
memorably activate an existing one. The speakers told us that about
half of the candidates refuse or don’t make it through the course,
but the ones that do, turn into accomplished planners.
While I can’t say you’ll see me auditioning for the next season
of Last Comic
Standing, I applaud any effort that highlights the
pivotal importance of insights.
Another notable presentation was one by SheSays entitled, “Why
80 Percent of Your Advertising Budget is Currently Being Wasted.”
The focus here was that although 80 percent of purchases in
consumer packaged goods categories are made by women, women are
woefully underrepresented in the creative leadership of agencies
all over the world. I’d love to hear more from SheSays about how
this problem can be solved.
Exemplars of creativity
Great work is always on display at Cannes. I will share some
examples that really stood out for me.
Guinness: Made of More
The ad features athletes in wheelchairs playing basketball. The
spot seamlessly links the core functional promise of Guinness—Made
of more—with a human being’s capacity for love and empathy. As the
players depart the gymnasium and you discover their true physical
capacities, it almost takes your breath away
The Belgian Guide Dog Federation
The Belgian Guide Dog Federation’s outdoor series uses a single
photo to at once extoll the benefit of a seeing eye dog and also
humanize the animal viscerally and completely as it is driven to
look at what its owner would if he or she could.
British Airways: #lookup, real-time flight
Talk about activating the right media at the right time. This
billboard outside of Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports
and British Airways’ hub, features a child pointing at the sky and
real-time flight information each time a BA plane flies
This one really pulls at the heartstrings. A remarkable
product—a 3-D book for expectant mothers illustrating the 40 weeks
of pregnancy, “growing” as the child grows and allowing space for
writing one’s thoughts. The Mother Book is one product I will
research next time I need a gift for a mother-to-be.
Other works that caught my attention included Volkswagen’s anti-texting and
driving campaign; the
Bentley burial stunt, which cleverly challenges us all to think
about the practicality of organ donation; the beautiful
Music of the People display; and
Premier Tissues’ simple, yet engaging outdoor campaign.
Brands that challenge
Perhaps because I am due to speak at Georgia-Pacific’s marketing
conference this week, where I’ve been asked to focus my remarks on
how challenger brands can best leverage design, I was struck this
year by some very strong programs from some challenger brands:
Taco Bell is a challenger to McDonald’s, especially with its
entry into breakfast. But this challenger punched above its weight
with its Ronald McDonald
Loves Taco Bell new breakfast campaign. I found myself laughing
out loud at this.
campaign for Harrison’s Fund struck an especially emotional
chord. The purpose is to bring awareness and research dollars to
Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition for which there is no
treatment and no cure. Six words—I wish my son had cancer—perfectly
and poignantly create the sense of urgency to do something.
Though it is World Cup season, I have to give a shout out to
creative rugby team Cronulla Sharks, who drew in crowds by dressing
decoys in their foes’ jerseys and feeding them to great white
sharks, leading to the viral “It’s Feeding Time!” videos.
A note on the joys of France
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of a week at the festival,
and I’ve not even mentioned the weather, which was splendid by the
way. It was cooler than usually—lovely since the French are good at
so very many things, but air conditioning is not one of them.
The rosé—oh my, the rosé! Old Town, the flowers, the sea, the
boats, the views, the creativity, the discourse. And amidst all of
this, a universal truth revealed: everywhere around the world, old
men love to fish. And in Cannes, they’re quite happy to do so with
their shirts off.
And it will all be waiting for us again next year.