This is the new face of creativity. Fully aware of its own role in impacting business fortunes, and also of an image that has been discordant to its power. So this time, the bloat is out. Crunched into five days are sessions that are resetting our industry’s agenda in the market. And in our own heads. Everybody seems to have got the memo, as one can see from the empty beach parties and the packed workshops. Fewer delegates have translated into more purpose. Whoever I meet is rushing to an appointment - a seminar to attend, a category to judge, a presentation to make, or an award to pick up. We all have our game faces on.
These Cannes Lions
are a truer reflection of who we are as an industry. Agile. Hardworking. Immune to constraints. It’s visible in the work, where creatives are coming up with ideas like ‘Xbox Fanchise’ or ‘Today at Apple’. It’s also visible in the participants’ attitude. While judging the Young Lions Marketing Competition, I was amazed by the spirit of two young ladies from ITC, Kolkata. Their arrival was delayed by more than 36 hours due to rail strikes across France, and after a harrowing journey that involved three train changes, they managed to make it to Cannes just in time for the competition. Despite all they had been through, and also getting two days less than the rest of the teams, they worked overnight to produce a marketing strategy that earned them an ovation and a silver Lion from the jury. They are the ambassadors of the new Cannes Lions.
The work too is new, and not just in terms of technology. What’s also new is the extreme focus on sales that most of the work being celebrated has. This is advertising reminding itself of where it needs to stand on the P&L sheet. As part of the Direct Lions jury, I had already had a preview of some of the best work, and came to the festival with my own favourites. I’m thrilled to see that two of them have picked up Grand Prixes already. ‘Trash Isles’ and ‘Xbox Fanchise’ are case studies I recommend for everyone in the business to see. Both are audacious in their ambition, and absolutely precise in the response they seek. Also new are some of the award categories, an indicator of the world that creativity will have to conquer tomorrow. It was especially satisfying for us at McCann India to win a Gold in Creative e-Commerce, one such new category. Our client was PayTM, and to win a Cannes Lion in a new-age category on a new-age brand gives us confidence that we’re ready for this world.
I write this piece in a hall bustling with some of the best young talent. To my right, I can see row after row of them going through all the winning work uploaded on the festival’s workstations. On the other side, another bunch of them are asking judges for feedback on work that didn’t win. On the couch next to me are two young creatives discussing how their live presentation for Glass Lions went. I’m reminded of what Rob Reilly, McCann’s global chief creative officer said at an event yesterday. “It’s a great time to be a brand”. I couldn’t agree more. In the hands of creative talent with such focus and purpose, brands could indeed rule the world.
I think I’ll raise a glass of rosé to that.
creative director, McCann Worldgroup)