#MannesInCannes – Final Installment

In a blaze of pyrotechnic glory that lit up the Croisette, another Cannes Festival of Creativity has come to an end.

There were two Film Grands Prix, one for the very funny Geico ‘Unskippable’ prerolls and one for the beautiful Leica ‘100’ piece, celebrating their centenary.

I think the best TV work either has humor as an engine, or it makes a strong statement about the brand, which usually comes from a powerful insight that’s expressed in a profound, impactful way. The two top prizewinners on the final night are perfect expressions of this type of work.

Another great TV spot was Nike’s ‘Ripple’. One could probably make a full-length feature out of the idea in this spot, but it makes a great TV ad too.

In another highlight of the evening, the amazing people behind the ALS Foundation’s ‘The Ice Bucket Challenge’ received their third standing ovation, as they accepted the Grand Prix for Good. There were numerous Golds for this campaign too. If anyone in advertising is still cynical about our ability to affect change in the world, they need only remember the 220 million dollars this campaign raised – incredible stuff from people who aren’t even in the ad world.

As the week comes to an end, I thought I’d reflect a little on some of the seminars. There’s no way you can see them all and there are many that I missed, but want to experience as downloads in the next few days.

There were many talks from big names in the entertainment business. Marilyn Manson reminded us all to stay true to ourselves and that authenticity was critical for him to build his brand. Brian Grazer spoke about curiosity and how it has helped fuel his career as one of Hollywood’s most successful producers. Kenneth Brannagh spoke very eloquently about creative process.

But for me, the most salient messages came from the agencies that are thinking ahead – the ones that are embracing change and innovating and planning for the future.

Bob Greenberg, winner of this year’s Lion of St. Mark, urged agencies to be involved in the start-up ecosystem. RGA has a unique model, which now sees them acting as an accelerator for start-ups. They’re giving 10 start-up companies $120 000 worth of investment capital each. In return for 5% of their profit. Their work with start-ups for ‘Bioranger’ and ‘Hammerhead’ won them several Golds and a Grand Prix over the course of the Festival.

A talk by Dentsu’s Head of Planning, Koichi Yamamoto was also a highlight. He spoke about the importance of big data and how it could be far more than a driver of efficacy, but has the potential to become a new source of creativity. It’s worth a watch. Last years ‘Connecting Lifelines’ for Internavi and ‘Sound of Honda’ are great examples.

All in all it’s been an amazing week and as it winds down I can’t help feeling that there’s so much work to be done.

By our own standards, it’s been a quiet year for SA agencies and we’ll need to work smarter and harder to be more competitive in categories other than just Radio next year.

In a more universal sense, it’s hard not to come away from Cannes, and back to South Africa, with a bigger goal in mind. As advertisers and marketers, we’re all in an industry that has the power to bring about change. While it’s easy to think that sounds glib, lofty or naive, experiencing the work here, it’s clear that with the right idea and the right attitude, it really is possible.

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