Case studies came after sliced bread/ I swipe left/ WTF is a Digital Prophet?
On the 735th day, just after some other chap invented sliced bread, David Droga said, “Let there be case studies” and advertising award shows have never been the same since. Later on, in 2006, he helped Marc Ecko tag Air Force One in a grainy internet video that completely shattered my view of what constituted advertising. Enough about David Droga for now. Let’s talk about me. It’s been ten years since that enlightenment and four days before I get on a plane to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. You see, I’m escorting a few case studies of our own, to be held up and judged in the frequently harsh light of international creativity standards.
It will only be my second trip to Cannes, the first having been five years ago. A quick read through the official site tells me a lot has changed since then. For starters the festival’s dictionary of buzzwords has grown fatter to include phrases like Big Data, Content, immersive and VR. I also notice that CD and ECD are no longer at the top of the acronym food chain. These have been discarded for the more important sounding CMO, CCO and CEO variants. Someone has shifted the goalposts. I have title envy.
As part of my preparation, which has so far included sorting out Visas and evicting a flu virus from my body, I also decide to get with the times and download the official Cannes Lions app. On the setup screen, I keep swiping left to get to the following page while the “next” button at the bottom just waits patiently for me to get it together. I think it knows I’m from Africa. My login attempt also gets rejected. So I choose the face-saving “not now” option and get through to the home screen. “Welcome to Inspiration” it declares. I’m in.
There are three tabs to choose from on the welcome page. Who’s speaking. What’s on when. Choose a cause. I’m intrigued, so I click on the third. The cause is fighting for gender equality by helping to shatter the deep-rooted stereotypes that exist in marketing. It’s is a worthy one and one of many that the festival has thrown its might behind over the years.
Next I click on the “Who’s speaking” tab and find myself scrolling down pages and pages of what could be the ultimate dinner conversation bucket list. I swipe past a Sci-fi author, a clinical psychology professor and a “Digital Prophet” in under three seconds. There’s an astronaut, a professional wrestler, Usher and The Fresh Prince of Belair himself. I also count Oliver Stone, Gilles Peterson and Gwyneth Paltrow among the list of celebrities taking to the stage this year. I make a mental note to avoid all talks by advertising people. Except for Nunu Ntshingila, my ex-boss, now Director of Africa at Facebook. And of course David Droga.
My last stop on the Cannes Lions app home screen is the “What’s On When” tab. This is where I get to plan my inspiration regiment for the next two weeks. Judging by the sheer amount of stuff happening, an overdose is not unlikely.
Ambiguous metaphors aside this year’s festival promises to buzz with creative energy. From inside the Palais des Festivals, where the judging and awarding of work will happen, to all the tech company beach activations along the French Riviera, it seems likely too much to take in.
Finally, I exit the app and think about what I’m personally looking forward to. Seeing how South African work holds up next to the best from all over the world will no doubt be a highlight. I’m particularly keen to see how our we do against work like:
Volvo’s innovation project, “Highway Robbery”
Apple Music’s YouTube breaking “Taylor vs Treadmill”
The hilarious Christmas campaign from Currys PC World featuring Jeff Goldblum
Save The Children’s hard hitting film about the plight of child refugees
And this really simple but undeniably cool ad for The Grammy’s featuring Kendrick Lamar
In the meantime, I wish everyone making plans to go on advertising’s yearly pilgrimage the best of luck. Everyone except for David Droga. He doesn’t need it apparently.