From The Land of Ice And Fire... And Sand And The Gutter Bar

Let's start at the end. I am home in New York now after returning from six days at Cannes Lions. As my flight landed on the runway at JFK, what was I excited about? Seeing my family, downloading the home team about what we learned and who we met? More than four hours of sleep? Or perhaps 48 hours without rosé? No -- I could not wait to get to a spot where I could finally watch the finale of this season's "Game of Thrones."

Perhaps some of you already knew that HBO To Go would not work for me in Cannes. I needed to be in my "home country." I did not know that, so imagine the horror when I discovered that sad truth after party number 4 last Sunday evening. Lamenting with my Cannes team, they begged me to find the courage not to read any recaps -- you know, the ones that clearly state upfront, "spoiler alert." Yes, I can say this too... if you continue reading this... spoiler alert ahead. Courage lasted until Tuesday, when I found myself worrying about how much Jon Snow would mourn for Ygritte and whether Tyrion would actually be put to death (for the record, I never doubted he would survive... at least for now.)  So, yes, I cheated -- but the relief of knowing let me focus on the Festival. 

Home at last -- unpacked, a light supper, shower and bed. iPad in hand and there it was, the scenery of somewhere else heightened by a musical score to stir your insides. Knowing what would happen did not spoil the episode, but it did allow me to ponder... what does "Game of Thrones" have in common with the Gold Lions Festival of Creativity?  

Three things (and perhaps you have more):

1. Kingdoms and holding companies.  I leave it to you to figure out which one matches up with which, but you have to admit, there is something about having a clear perspective about who you are and what you are fighting for. Loyalty among the troops? A leader with a clear vision? If not, fear the merger. I mean you, Tywin Lannister. 

2. Strong women. Sheryl Sandberg, Joanna Coles and Sarah Jessica Parker, Daenerys Targaryen. All so bold and empowering. Cersei anyone? Or Arya Stark, what kind of balls or perhaps passion do you need to have to walk away from a dying man you have been traveling with for so long? The image of Arya on the ship going off to her next adventures; you can feel the excitement, the focus, the quest...just like when you begin your big pitch. 

3. The players. Over and over you hear about how this Festival began and only creatives came. They, thankfully, are still here in great numbers -- but now they are accompanied by the "others." I wish I had been at the Lions when they began to know how different (or not) it was, but as Joe Pytka observed, things change. And in "Game of Thrones," are the great kingdoms that different than they were a few years ago? How much difference does it make as the players change? And where, like Arya, are we going as we head out to sea? 

HBO has no worries, I plan to return next season, all the while imagining the twists and turns over the year that will shape Season Five. Just as all the twists and turns ahead for advertising will shape what, and who, we see along the Croisette next year



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