Cannes Lions: rosé, inspiring talks and creative hot shots

Cannes Lions: rosé, inspiring talks and creative hot shots

Door Martijn Lasonder
On behalf of Dorst & Lesser, I had the honour to explore the promised land of creativity. I bet you know what place I’m talking… Indeed, I went to Cannes, attending “le festival international de la créativité”! With Cannes Lions 2019 being my base for a full week, you can only imagine my curiosity for this great gathering full of rosé, inspiring talks, and creative hot shots from all over the globe.

To be honest, at first, I was quite skeptical about attending. In the eyes of a modern social media creative, Cannes Lions can be considered a bit… passé. You have to admit: it does sound like a place where everybody shake hands and tell the others how great they are. The blanks in the agenda are filled with complimentary talks, so we can tell everybody at home how inspiring it really was. However, the skeptic in me actually got converted after attending. Wonder why? Read along!
 
No more hiding behind “The Big Idea”?!
My week at Cannes started with a talk from Nick Law, the very-recently-former CCO of Publicis Groupe. One second into the talk, I thought to myself: “Great, here we go again. Mr. Creative trying to talk his way out of teaming up with data and pledging for more creative freedom.” A pretty logical thought considering the talk was called “Creatives in Control”, right?
 
Well, he surprised me (and others, I’m sure) by stating the opposite. Creatives are not in control the way they should be. According to Law, we should all stop hiding behind this giant fluke called “The Big Idea”. The Big Idea should be a strategic approach, with the creative concerning him- or herself with how that approach is going to translate to different media, from social to TVC and even radio. Unexpected, but insightful, so hats off to Mr. Nick Law.
 
Ugly content is the future
Another surprising talk came from Tim Leake, RPA’s Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer. He proclaimed that ugly content is the absolute truth and future of most of our clients’ issues. While I found his keynote to be quite horrendous, the threat to our industry that he identified was fully on point: in these evolving ages of advertising, we are actually training people to skip ads. Our behaviour is proof of this: the moment we see an ad and we actually realise it’s an ad, we are ready to skip it.
 
So what’s the solution? Ugly content… No, really! Tim’s research shows that beautifully polished ads do not resonate with people and that we need to get closer to our audience. How exactly? Talk like the medium does. If you are advertising on Youtube, do it in a Youtube kind of way. If you are producing a TVC, make it look beautiful If you are on GIPHY (a great platform showing brands mixing with modern culture), make it ugly. It sounds easy enough. Putting it to the test might be harder though, but also more rewarding.
 
Data, no data, data again… Which way to go?!
With companies such as IBM, Accenture, and Deloitte present, another talking point around the festival was the big discussion about data and creativity. Just imagine lots of rosé-fuelled conversations about Droga5 merging with Accenture. Reflecting on his decision to team up with Accenture, David Droga himself talked about not wanting to be the interior decorator in a house that is broken. Fair enough, right?
 
Later in the week, however, the VP of Marketing of the mother of all brands, Apple, shook the audience. Tor Myhren talked about real Apple culture, showing all his great ads from past years, and then hitting the home run by saying: “At Apple, we do not test”. Yes, let that sink in for a bit (I had the same reaction). The brand that is everywhere, the brand that lives with you, breathes with you, surprises you every single time… Such a brand not testing their ads and creations is something to take into consideration. At Apple, they believe that the people who know the product best, can tell the story the best way – and no outcome of tests can interfere with that core concept.
 
If the above wasn’t enough fuel for discussion, an airplane with the banner #FreeDroga flew above the Palais. Even in the hotel where the Droga5 people stayed, banners were hung screaming “Free Droga”. But why? As a stance for creativity against data? Maybe… It definitely has something to do with self-interest if you ask me – just check out this fundraiser. Great advertising if you ask me. And, in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? My week at Cannes was inspiring, controversial, educational, exciting, and mostly… a lot of fun!

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