Thursday, July 1, 2010

We Cannes create more Space for Ideas

Written by John Sintras in Cannes

It’s was huge privilege to be in Cannes for the Advertising Festival last week, an extraordinary experience on so many levels.

Human inspiration and ideas are the oxygen of our industry. As the world continues to move ahead at breakneck pace, and as the digital age pushes us further towards a 24/7 working mentality, it is critical that we all create more space for thinking, inspiration and ideas. To immerse ourselves in what it means to be human, and how we can create more meaningful brand experiences for our clients in the context of their world. More time to breathe in a little essential oxygen.

It’s a shame the Cannes festival is so far way from Australia as there is no better place to get an intense dose of oxygen than here. Cannes provides the opportunity to stop and think at the highest level. To examine not just the advertising world, but the whole world from many different perspectives. To meet and hear from extraordinary people within and outside our industry. To touch and feel global best practice in marketing and advertising communications. To be inspired by new thinking and ideas. And to be reminded that we work in an amazing industry that allows us to be immersed in and connected with humanity like no other job can.

The highlight of the week for me was the TED@Cannes seminar, the first time that this amazing format has been brought to the festival, facilitated by Starcom and Microsoft. While the majority of the festival provides a deep dive into the industry, TED@Cannes provided a “30,000 foot view of the ideas and trends that are shaping the future, and creating the context for the work we do”. We heard from eight extraordinary world thinkers on “global shifts in population and economics, new technologies that will redefine how we work and play, new models for collaboration and innovation, new insight into how ideas spread, and a new understanding of who we are, how we work, and why we do what we do”.

As I have listened to speakers and reviewed the work recognised at the festival, it continues to reinforce the appropriateness of our company’s focus on best understanding the human experience, and designing brand experiences that add value and meaning to people’s lives. Gimmicky, short term, technologically-led work does not cut it.

This year’s Media Grand Prix winner by Leo Burnett Sydney for Canon echoes this. Here is a campaign that humanises technology and recognises the interconnectedness of humanity – people inspiring other people, empowered by the client’s product and technology. It is interesting that this campaign came from the social media category. There is much debate on how to leverage social, with many clients unsure how to take advantage of this phenomenon. It’s work like this that recognises the role that technology plays in fulfilling human needs and desires that will pay the biggest dividend.

It was a great thrill to see our campaign for the Pedigree Dog Adoption Drive recognised with 2 Silver Media Lions. Again, here is a campaign that took a very human approach to the plight of shelter dogs. By telling real dog stories and integrating them into people’s lives in surprising and engaging ways, we were able to create a result that had never been achieved previously using more ‘traditional’ communications approaches.

This year’s results are again fuelling the debate about what is a creative versus media idea, and who should best drive strategic thinking. This really is an old-fashioned and limited argument. Media and creative thinking are both essential, one can’t be effective without the other. Great communications work today requires many smart people looking at the business from many different perspectives and levels. They don’t need to sit in one agency, and indeed it’s probably healthier if they don’t. But they do need to be aligned behind the same piece of human inspiration and work collaboratively. And who owns the idea? What a ridiculous question. Ultimately we hope the idea is owned by the people who embrace it into their lives, and the client for whom it creates a business result.

It was a great week. While we can’t all afford to be in Cannes every year, we can all afford to create a culture and workplace that makes the effort to create the space for ideas. A culture that lives the spirit of the Cannes festival every day.

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