Like tens of thousands of industry colleagues, I spent most of this week in Cannes, participating in the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Cannes is all about celebrating creativity in advertising, attending sessions on industry topics set up across the beaches, pavilions and yachts, and networking with industry leaders from around the world, generally involving no small amount of rosé.
This year, fortunately, the topic of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the atrocities being inflicted on the people of Ukraine made it on the agenda. Not because it’s a light and easy subject to talk about. It’s not, but it is an essential topic in an industry that drives so much of the communication and journalism in the world.
I traveled to Cannes after spending nine days in Ukraine, in both Kyiv and Lviv, where I met with ad-tech companies, entrepreneurs, IT services companies, production companies and government leaders to try to understand how we in the ad industry could help the people of Ukraine: not only to win this war for freedom, but also to keep its economic engine running while it undergoes horrific and deadly attacks.
There were a number of panels at Cannes on the topic of how we could help. Here’s some of what I shared and what I learned from others:
Take a stand. The last thing the world needs -- let alone the people of Ukraine -- is for folks to be on the fence, hoping that if they wait long enough the issue will go away or things can go back to how they used to be. They won’t. We will not see a moment in our lifetime that both matters as much -- and where we can make a difference -- as what is happening in Ukraine. Certainly not since the 1920s and 1930s and Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.
Donate to those in need. The $1k Project is enabling direct grants of $1,000 to families devastated by the Russian destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine.
Buy ads on Ukrainian media. The Ukraine media needs ad dollars to stay alive. The people of Ukraine need their media for news, information and entertainment. It’s easy. All of us can buy ads there to help the cause.
Buy creative and other marketing services from Ukraine firms. With the domestic ad market devastated by the loss of businesses, great agencies have lots of people who need work. Leverage them. Send them projects. Ukrainian ad work is outstanding.
Hire Ukraine tech talent Many hundreds of thousands of Urkainians work in IT services. Their work is among the best in the world, particularly in ad tech. Hire talent in Ukraine and from Ukraine firms.
Join Ukraine trade associations. The IAB Ukraine and IT Ukraine Association are just two of some amazing local trade associations in our industry. Look them up and join them. They can be a bridge between our markets and a great way to help their members.
Care and commit. It starts with my first point: no fence-sitting. They are fighting our war -- the Freedom War -- and not helping only helps the enemies of freedom.