Lessons In Survival

CANNES, FRANCE -- At the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity here, I’ve been to seminars entitled “How to Survive a Zombie Attack,” and “Creativity is the Only Way to Survive.” Here, it’s all about survival.

But, survival of what? Surviving a walk down La Croisette without drowning in rosé?

What insight would these ad executives, startup CEO’s and celebrities give on surviving?

Within an ever-expanding definition of our industry, the people leading the way are not just bringing new ideas and new direction into the world of marketing, but really are changing its culture. This creative community of thinkers, makers, and originators are pushing the limits of creativity in order to connect humanity and move civilization.

If you ask Sean Rad, founder and President of Tinder, his mission is “bringing the world closer together.”

Evan Spiegel, CEO of SnapChat, sees his company as “really trying to understand the world through people’s eyes.”

While the tools have changed – as Spiegel said, “computers don’t make us creative, it's kind of just another paintbrush” – the truth remains that creativity is the only way to survive. It’s the way humans have continued to adapt, grow and ultimately evolve. Evolve or die.

And what I’ve learned here at Cannes this year is you have to dare to be different. You have to push past your comfort zone in order to really create change.

Viola Davis, the Tony Award-winning actress, talked about her efforts to play authentic roles, to show real people in roles on screen that can ultimately adjust the current mindset of popular culture.  She said, “whenever you are different you have to be okay with failure, because people are not good with progression… you have to give yourself permission to have a voice.”

Artist Emilie Baltz told us, “Most of our boundaries exist in our minds.”

That is how Bergendi Hatch, winner of our 2015 “MRM//McCann I Am” contest, found herself in Cannes this year.  She broke the rules and pushed past her comfort zone to create her award-winning entry, and that’s exactly the type of thinking that is going to bring us the next wave of culture-changing ideas.

So while the rest of the world may think we’re all here in Cannes to just sip rosé and rub elbows with our fellow industry people – there is much more to learn, about being bold, and being creative, from people who are changing the way we connect, changing our perceptions of what is beautiful and expanding our ideas on what is possible. I will walk away from Cannes this year with a renewed hope in the future, and feeling prepared to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Biggest lesson learned: Be bold, get out of your comfort zone and great things can happen. Also, in a zombie apocalypse, cut your mullet and don’t wear loose clothing – less for zombies to grab onto.
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