Dedé Laurentino, executive creative director of TBWA\London, like many of us, spent the week at the International Festival of Creativity in Cannes. Below he details his week on La Croisette, how he sees the Cannes experience and what he takes away.
No matter how many ads you see, how many integrated boards you read or how many forums you sit through, you will always meet a friend at lunch who saw something much more interesting. This friend will invariably say: “What? You missed that? It was the best thing this year!” And your lunch is spoilt.
Now there’s an app for that. This year, Cannes created a great feature for their app. It is a 'goody bag' that lets you store stuff that you see at the Palais - work, videos, panels, boards, everything - so you can actually attend the festival with due care and attention when you get back home (this reminds me of a girlfriend I had; we were travelling through Ireland and whenever I jumped out of the car to gasp at some amazing scenery she’d stay in and say, "take a photo. I’ll see it when we get home").
I spent most of my time going through boards rather than their respective video case studied. This way I could quickly spot the interesting ones, store them with my app and save precious time. I also skipped most of the panels. More often than not, the speaker will be trying to sell his agency or service instead of sharing useful insights or the vision that made him or her build that very thing they’re selling. It’s a missed opportunity, and the only panel I saw this year was, yet again, a very expensive leaflet. One of the few exceptions is Dana Anderson’s talk last year. She’s an experienced agency president that went on to become a heavy weight client [senior VP at Kraft Foods]. Knowing both sides of the table, she talked about the mistakes agencies make in pitches without even knowing it. The panel was sharp, engaging, incredibly useful and very funny. Here’s a tip for future speakers: when you go fishing for attention you bait the hook not with what you like, but with what the fish likes.
All in all, I think Cannes found a way of remaining relevant. With the web doing the job of sharing most of the best global work these days, Cannes now serves a different purpose. It’s an overall experience. It provides a full week of creativity, in all its overwhelming profusion. This creates the right mood for clients to dip their toes in our lake, which makes the lake belong to everyone. I much prefer meeting clients to talk about work in Cannes, when we’re surrounded by award-winning ideas. It grounds you in the reality of life, rather than in the fictional space of an office. The turquoise blue of the sea replaces the scientific fluorescent light of meeting rooms. A glass of rosé reminds us that you should win the heart so that the mind will follow. The shorts and flip-flops tell you it’s ok to laugh and have fun: work should be seen with a smile, not with pads and pens and frowning brows.
As all experiences do, Cannes alters your perspective. But at a deeper level now. It isn’t necessarily the work you saw that does it, but the collective influence of everything and everyone around it. The week has a powerful reality distortion field. Our task is then to take that power and apply to our day jobs. Oh yes, I nearly forgot: we have a day job. May that day be as sunny and alluring as the ones in the Côte d’Azur.