Cannes Lions 2012: Young Lion Reflection
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is difficult to describe to someone who’s never been before. Photos do not do justice to the feeling of wonder and amazement the festival invokes and written summaries of seminars cannot emulate the adrenaline kick of sharing a moment with thousands of people from all over the world.
The festival is as much an emotion as it is
an event. The following is my attempt to describe how being in Cannes during the lions festival felt and how I hope to utilize these feelings in my approach to the industry as a whole.
One of my favorite speakers from the Cannes festival, Alain de Botton, mentioned the importance of feeling small from time to time. Not the way a condescending superior might make you feel, but in a more humbling way that makes you realize you are a small part of a larger whole. From his TED talk, which focused on a similar theme:
“When you look at the moon, you think, ‘I’m really small. What are my problems?’ It sets things into perspective. We should all look at the moon a bit more often.”
Taking part in an international festival comprised of 9,000 of the most creative and innovative thinkers of the ad industry has a way of making you see that you are small part of a wonderfully diverse community.
This notion of smallness carried through the festival as speakers commonly addressed is theme: We are all a small part of a larger picture. From President Bill Clinton’s speech, in which he discussed a need for interdependence among the countries of the world, to Coca-Cola’s recognition of the need for shared values with their consumers, bottlers and corporate offices, it was refreshing to see this shared concept of smallness among many in an industry that sometimes known for arrogance and ego.
I began to wonder how I would maintain this feeling in my day-to-day working life after the festival had come to a close. One solution, looking to others for inspiration, came from a panel of creative directors from BBDO. They each presented a commercial they found to be well-executed and examined why it worked.
The content and the dissection of why the ad worked made the talk fascinating, but what made it truly stand out from other seminars
was that each creative director presented an ad created by a different agency. It takes a certain amount of confidence and grace to recognize a competitors’ efforts and celebrate their
accomplishments. Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We must look outside ourselves in order to grow new ideas and ways of thinking.
It was easy to feel small while attending a festival that features celebrity-lined panels (Matthew Morrison, Jon Hamm, Debbie Harry and Selena Gomez to name a few) and rock stars of the advertising industry, like Jeff Goodby and Dan Wieden.
Yet the seminars reminded the attendees that ordinary people have the power to change the world more than ever before. President Clinton cited that the most common donation to relief
in Haiti after the earthquake came in the amount of $20, proving that ordinary people can have real impact on large-scale problems.
While nothing can quite compare to the festival, I did learn there are a few ways to experience the emotion of Cannes Lions that are accessible to everyone, no matter where you live.
1.) Never underestimate your ability to make real change and help when and where you can.
2.) Make a habit of looking at your competitors’ work for inspiration and celebrate their successes.
3.) Look at the moon as often as possible.