Lessons from Cannes Lions Festival 2018 from a wide-eyed newbie
From your very first step into the world of PR, you hear all the stories: the glamour of La Croisette, the exclusive yacht parties, lots of rosé, some awards, and a lot of cynical opining that Cannes is ‘over’ – so when 3 Monkeys Zeno selected me as the winner of their ‘Can you Cannes?’ competition – first prize an all-expenses-paid-trip to the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity – I was unsure of what to expect.
I went into the week armed only with a schedule of talks to attend, a big pair of sunglasses and an open mind, with my sole ambition being to absorb everything I could from the iconic festival. So while the reports of copious rosé, parties and heat were all (extremely) true, I found Cannes is most definitely not ‘over’.
Below are four of the best things I learned from Cannes about creativity, the state of our industry and how to navigate the sprawling festival:
- The best speakers aren’t on the big stages
And I’m not talking about those shoe-horned in celebrity panels either (such as Kevin Costner discussing his latest TV series). The panels and discussions that taught me the most about how to tackle issues affecting my clients and their consumers were not with industry superstars such as David Droga or Publicis Groupe’s Nick Law on the main stages, but at the more intimate ‘fringe’ events. The panels organised by Female Quotient, WARC and The Economist provided some of my favourite quotes from the week, and lessons I’ll be incorporating in every piece of work I create.
- We’ve got to do diversity better
Diversity and purpose were two of the most discussed topics amongst the panels, examining the dire state of diversity in all industries and the importance for creatives to help businesses instil these values into the core of their brands. However, I felt one of the most thought-provoking questions was:
“can purpose really only be communicated one way?”
Humour is a powerful emotion which is the fastest way to build connections between people. So while these issues are important and are rightly treated with solemnity, our industry’s most powerful solutions may not always be to take the most serious path.
- To win awards, your client has to (nearly) get deported
The most stand-out creative ideas at the awards all had two things in common: simplicity, and a brave client trusting and investing in their agency. It could be convincing your CEO to invest in an advert encouraging people to pee on it, risking deportation by promoting changes to a language considered sacred, or spending a lot on lawyers fighting off potential copyright infringement. Clients who are bold enough to trust the creativity and insights of their partner agencies are more likely to create truly impactful campaigns – and get a shiny lion statue.
- Don’t forget to enjoy it
With so much to see and do it’s easy to get caught up in trying to study all the amazing work and lose sight of just how amazing the whole festival is. It is one week where you’re in a beautiful town surrounded by people who share your passions and interests.