Creative Cannes Lions

Cannes winners are to everyday work what haute couture catwalks are to the high street


By Patrick Collister, head of design

July 10, 2017 | 5 min read

You don’t need me to remind you that the Cannes Lions festival took place less than a fortnight ago.


Dior's Couture AW17 show – a lavish affair

The post-competition comment has been rather scratchier than usual.

This is mostly thanks to the bombshell dropped by Publicis halfway through the week that they are pulling out of all awards shows for the next year.

The timing made it look like an assault on Cannes Lions in particular. That’s how a host of commentators have chosen to interpret it, anyway.

The point about Cannes, though, is that it is as relevant to the day-to-day work of most agencies and brands as last week’s Chanel, Dior and Alexander McQueen shows are to the high street.

Think Cannes is expensive?

Earlier this week, Dior brought in full-sized trees, wooden elephants and giraffes to Les Invalides for their couture show in Paris.

Think it must have cost a lot for agencies and brands to fly in Helen Mirren, Sir Ian McKellen, Dita Von Teese, Ellie Goulding to the South of France?

Chanel bagged Pharrell Williams, Julianne Moore, Tilda Swinton, Katy Perry…

You get the picture.

The amazing ideas that are first expressed on the catwalks of Paris, London and Milan eventually filter down to Topshop and H&M.

Same with Cannes.

Last year’s Grand Prix winners heralded the arrival of AI, AR and wearable tech. This year, AI, AR, VR et al were to be found in among the golds, silvers and also-rans.

How long before we see them in Creative Works?

Looking at the campaigns submitted in the last two weeks, it looks very much like business as usual out there in adland.

Lots of TV commercials.

Plenty of branded content. i.e. TV commercials that last anything up to three minutes.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s some good stuff.

Like BBH’s 'Equal Love' for Absolut is getting a lot of attention.

And 'Randy Bryce for Congress', a Wisconsin iron-worker’s pitch to be elected.

But…I can’t help feeling the writing is on the wall.

For several years now, it has become evident that brands communicate in what they do as much as in what they say.

L’Oreal didn’t run ads saying ‘We are a modern and relevant brand for young women today’. They created ‘Make Up Genius’.

Optus Australia didn’t run a TV commercial talking about their technological capabilities. With M&C Saatchi they built ‘Clever Buoy’, a device that used a smartphone camera to detect sharks in the water off Bondi Beach.

PR took the story to millions.

P&G and Unilever are not alone in fostering startups to help them create new products and services for their brands. Now Publicis is following suit.

Arthur Sadoun and Mark Tutssel have sent a message out to the industry.

Digital isn’t a channel – or channels. It is the operating foundation for most businesses. Even (or is it finally?) ad agencies.

That’s what I’d like to see more of in Creative Works.

Ideas people can be part of (with thanks for the phrase to Dale Gall, chief executive at MullenLowe).

Ideas that get people doing stuff. That change behaviour.

Ideas like ‘Mobile Aasana’ by Watconsult for Bajaz Allianz Insurance.

This uses people’s attachment to their mobile phones (literally) to get them doing simple yoga to improve their health.

Will it win awards?

I doubt it.

But that doesn’t mean to say it isn’t good.

It may be a bit last year for juries but it’s very now for ordinary people.

Patrick Collister has joined The Drum as creative contributing editor. You can find him on Twitter at @directnewideas

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