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Cannes 2018: Creativity Takes Center Stage Again

Cannes 2018: Creativity Takes Center Stage Again

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

May 8, 2018

“If after Cannes you are not determined to do great things, you are a lost cause.”

"Ideas should make people think, and behave in a certain way as a result."

In just less than a month, more than 16,000 marketers and advertisers will descend on the south of France for the 2018 Cannes Lions Festival—the creative festival.

The newly revamped (and shortened) festival runs from June 18–22 and this year organizers, in addition to making the festival more affordable, are putting the focus firmly back on creativity.

We spoke with some creatives from around the Havas Group network about the festival, what makes for a creative idea, and why the festival is still very much necessary.

 

What criteria do you use when submitting work to Cannes?

Valerie Madon, Chief Creative Officer, Havas SEA: There are broadly three types of entries.

  1. Ideas that solve problems head-on: These need to be simple but fresh, smart ways to activate people or change their behaviors.
  2. Ideas that communicate and provoke conversations: These need to evoke an emotion universally, versus a joke that’s only funny in the creator’s eyes—i.e., does it make you cry or laugh, does it anger you into action.
  3. Work with exceptional craft: Regardless of art direction, cinematography or copywriting, great crafted work makes you want to look at it again and again—just has how one admires art—because a lot of love and time have gone into it.

Lennie Stern, Head of Creative and Entertainment Strategies, BETC Paris: I do believe great work, regardless of the category, must be easy to understand, simple, original and truly inspiring. It has to inspire others to achieve more. It should also inspire a deep creative envy.

I am also strongly convinced that today creative work must play beyond pure advertising frontiers to build brand engagement through singular entertainment content and pop culture phenomena. If your content has succeeded to overcome ad blockers by creating super cool ideas that people are sincerely happy to watch, share, comment on or whatever—well, it has to be submitted to Cannes.

Darren Richardson, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Düsseldorf, Digital Executive Creative Director Europe: Does the work have meaning, is the idea clear, is the insight clear, is the work inspiring, is the craft outstanding, and would my peers be jealous.

Jasmine Loignon, Executive Creative Director, BETC Luxe: Regardless of the category, the work needs to check all the boxes. Great concept, great craft, clarity in the message, and execution must be all flawless. And let’s not forget pride.

What, to you, defines a successful creative idea?

Darren Spiller, Chief Creative Officer, Host/Havas: Something that solves a problem creatively. Ideas should make people think, and behave in a certain way as a result. If it doesn’t have the back half of that sentence then it is not a great idea. Creative people need to ask themselves, what will people do when they see this? If they do what you hope they will do, you have a winner.

Ton Valdes, Executive Creative Director, Arnold Madrid: It has to be smart, insightful, new and exciting. If you think “this idea should have been mine,” it probably is a successful creative idea.

DR: A clean and clear idea backed with a great strategic thought, beautifully crafted, and a great case film. Sounds simple, but we all know it’s bloody hard. And a great case film can turn a bronze to silver.

VM: One that matters to the world beyond our industry, like “Fearless Girl.”

Jesús Lada, Creative Director/Chief Creative Officer, Havas Spain: For me an idea has to connect with the people. A lot of the ideas we see winning at Cannes are made just for us, for advertising professionals. I love a good idea that people on the street talk about. For me that is the key.

"You are confronted with a level of creativity that really slaps you in the face."

How would you describe the Cannes Lions experience?

Javier Urbaneja, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Tribu: If you have entered work, you are on an emotional roller coaster, which may end up or down. Cannes is not so inspiring as it is motivating. You can’t copy what you see, but you are confronted with a level of creativity that really slaps you in the face. If after Cannes you are not determined to do great things, you are a lost cause.

DS: Exhausting. It’s all encompassing. Everywhere you go, to breakfast or lunch or in the evening, people are talking about what they saw, what they learned, and what the trends are that are coming out on top. You live, breathe, and sleep (though not much) advertising in all its forms for a week.

TV: There is no better place to capture the best insights.

JL: For me it’s the Super Bowl, the main event of the year. But at the same time, it’s also like a museum, or a master class. You use Cannes to reignite yourself, to learn, to be inspired, and to celebrate from time to time.

LS: Depending on what you want to get out of it, it is the best place to network, share, be inspired, and meet a myriad of different thinkers in one place.

JL (BETC): Exciting, inspiring, exhausting, depending in what capacity you are attending the festival. As a juror it’s extremely inspiring, getting to see the best of the industry and debating with the most creative minds. You need to be mentally and physically in shape. Watching on the bench is also equally inspiring—everyone is watching, the brands are there, and your peers. Not to mention the rosé…

What are some things you are hoping to learn? What have you learned from past years?

DS: For me it’s less about learning and more about letting that year wash over me, the trends and the highs. I’ve also learned that things don’t always go your way. The outcome of the show is very much driven by the personalities of that year’s jurors. Their likes, views, dislikes—and their prejudices. Nothing is a guarantee, even if work has done well in other shows around the world. Cannes is a microclimate where things are judged, awarded and celebrated there—and then not weeks or months later.

TV: I also learned the importance of doing the best work. You can feel the priority it is for the network, and the pride of creating something really important for everyone in the agency.

DR: The main thing I learn each year is that we have to try harder, especially in digital and technology—it all moves so fast that we as creatives have to keep up and help our brands stay current and appealing.

VM: There’s a significant change in categories this year and it will be interesting to see the winners and how they’re judged. There’s also a rise in technology firms such as Google and Facebook taking up main stages. I’m eager to see what’s new and where the future is heading.

JU: I want to see where the festival goes from here. This is a very important year, with a lot of changes that are designed to keep the festival relevant, such as having one section for the social/pro bono work, and focusing it toward the sustainability objectives of the United Nations.

LS: It’s different every year, and the themes or trends that appear in the global work can often determine what you need to do to stand out. But every year I hope to learn from the best how to put creativity everywhere and blur the frontier bridging the entertainment, tech, and advertising industries.

What’s your biggest Cannes regret?

JL (BETC): Rosé.

DR: Not putting the work in the right categories—you only do this once.

VM: A few years back, my young team represented Singapore at the Young Lions competition. Unfortunately, I was also there for judging and could not spend enough time with them. When it’s your first time in Cannes and you don’t know many people, you can feel extremely lonely in a very superficial environment. As to be expected, they were quite disenchanted really quickly and never wanted to attend Cannes again.

JL: Hangovers.

JU: Not entering “Holograms for Freedom” in the Film Craft: Achievement in Production category. We had doubts and finally didn’t do it. After seeing the nature of the category winners, I was left with the sensation that they might have awarded us too. I will never know.

Is the festival worth the hype?

DS: It’s a great place for people in our industry to congregate. It’s less about awards and more about a celebration of the work pushing boundaries. Work that redefines what we do.

DR: Depends on your reasons for going. If, as for me, it’s to meet old and new friends, be inspired and learn, then absolutely yes.

VM: Sadly, no. The money can be put to better use, like training and other forms of inspiration.

JL: It is. For me it’s important just to be there. The talks—you actually can watch them online, but the conversations you have—that’s the real inspiration.

JU: Yes. There are other important festivals, that one may argue are even more difficult to be awarded at, such as the One Show, LIA or Clio. But Cannes is the most international, and it has glamour. Also, it’s in Cannes.

LS: Definitely, YES.

"Ideas should make people think, and behave in a certain way as a result."

In just less than a month, more than 16,000 marketers and advertisers will descend on the south of France for the 2018 Cannes Lions Festival—the creative festival.

The newly revamped (and shortened) festival runs from June 18–22 and this year organizers, in addition to making the festival more affordable, are putting the focus firmly back on creativity.

We spoke with some creatives from around the Havas Group network about the festival, what makes for a creative idea, and why the festival is still very much necessary.

 

What criteria do you use when submitting work to Cannes?

Valerie Madon, Chief Creative Officer, Havas SEA: There are broadly three types of entries.

  1. Ideas that solve problems head-on: These need to be simple but fresh, smart ways to activate people or change their behaviors.
  2. Ideas that communicate and provoke conversations: These need to evoke an emotion universally, versus a joke that’s only funny in the creator’s eyes—i.e., does it make you cry or laugh, does it anger you into action.
  3. Work with exceptional craft: Regardless of art direction, cinematography or copywriting, great crafted work makes you want to look at it again and again—just has how one admires art—because a lot of love and time have gone into it.

Lennie Stern, Head of Creative and Entertainment Strategies, BETC Paris: I do believe great work, regardless of the category, must be easy to understand, simple, original and truly inspiring. It has to inspire others to achieve more. It should also inspire a deep creative envy.

I am also strongly convinced that today creative work must play beyond pure advertising frontiers to build brand engagement through singular entertainment content and pop culture phenomena. If your content has succeeded to overcome ad blockers by creating super cool ideas that people are sincerely happy to watch, share, comment on or whatever—well, it has to be submitted to Cannes.

Darren Richardson, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Düsseldorf, Digital Executive Creative Director Europe: Does the work have meaning, is the idea clear, is the insight clear, is the work inspiring, is the craft outstanding, and would my peers be jealous.

Jasmine Loignon, Executive Creative Director, BETC Luxe: Regardless of the category, the work needs to check all the boxes. Great concept, great craft, clarity in the message, and execution must be all flawless. And let’s not forget pride.

What, to you, defines a successful creative idea?

Darren Spiller, Chief Creative Officer, Host/Havas: Something that solves a problem creatively. Ideas should make people think, and behave in a certain way as a result. If it doesn’t have the back half of that sentence then it is not a great idea. Creative people need to ask themselves, what will people do when they see this? If they do what you hope they will do, you have a winner.

Ton Valdes, Executive Creative Director, Arnold Madrid: It has to be smart, insightful, new and exciting. If you think “this idea should have been mine,” it probably is a successful creative idea.

DR: A clean and clear idea backed with a great strategic thought, beautifully crafted, and a great case film. Sounds simple, but we all know it’s bloody hard. And a great case film can turn a bronze to silver.

VM: One that matters to the world beyond our industry, like “Fearless Girl.”

Jesús Lada, Creative Director/Chief Creative Officer, Havas Spain: For me an idea has to connect with the people. A lot of the ideas we see winning at Cannes are made just for us, for advertising professionals. I love a good idea that people on the street talk about. For me that is the key.

"You are confronted with a level of creativity that really slaps you in the face."

How would you describe the Cannes Lions experience?

Javier Urbaneja, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Tribu: If you have entered work, you are on an emotional roller coaster, which may end up or down. Cannes is not so inspiring as it is motivating. You can’t copy what you see, but you are confronted with a level of creativity that really slaps you in the face. If after Cannes you are not determined to do great things, you are a lost cause.

DS: Exhausting. It’s all encompassing. Everywhere you go, to breakfast or lunch or in the evening, people are talking about what they saw, what they learned, and what the trends are that are coming out on top. You live, breathe, and sleep (though not much) advertising in all its forms for a week.

TV: There is no better place to capture the best insights.

JL: For me it’s the Super Bowl, the main event of the year. But at the same time, it’s also like a museum, or a master class. You use Cannes to reignite yourself, to learn, to be inspired, and to celebrate from time to time.

LS: Depending on what you want to get out of it, it is the best place to network, share, be inspired, and meet a myriad of different thinkers in one place.

JL (BETC): Exciting, inspiring, exhausting, depending in what capacity you are attending the festival. As a juror it’s extremely inspiring, getting to see the best of the industry and debating with the most creative minds. You need to be mentally and physically in shape. Watching on the bench is also equally inspiring—everyone is watching, the brands are there, and your peers. Not to mention the rosé…

What are some things you are hoping to learn? What have you learned from past years?

DS: For me it’s less about learning and more about letting that year wash over me, the trends and the highs. I’ve also learned that things don’t always go your way. The outcome of the show is very much driven by the personalities of that year’s jurors. Their likes, views, dislikes—and their prejudices. Nothing is a guarantee, even if work has done well in other shows around the world. Cannes is a microclimate where things are judged, awarded and celebrated there—and then not weeks or months later.

TV: I also learned the importance of doing the best work. You can feel the priority it is for the network, and the pride of creating something really important for everyone in the agency.

DR: The main thing I learn each year is that we have to try harder, especially in digital and technology—it all moves so fast that we as creatives have to keep up and help our brands stay current and appealing.

VM: There’s a significant change in categories this year and it will be interesting to see the winners and how they’re judged. There’s also a rise in technology firms such as Google and Facebook taking up main stages. I’m eager to see what’s new and where the future is heading.

JU: I want to see where the festival goes from here. This is a very important year, with a lot of changes that are designed to keep the festival relevant, such as having one section for the social/pro bono work, and focusing it toward the sustainability objectives of the United Nations.

LS: It’s different every year, and the themes or trends that appear in the global work can often determine what you need to do to stand out. But every year I hope to learn from the best how to put creativity everywhere and blur the frontier bridging the entertainment, tech, and advertising industries.

What’s your biggest Cannes regret?

JL (BETC): Rosé.

DR: Not putting the work in the right categories—you only do this once.

VM: A few years back, my young team represented Singapore at the Young Lions competition. Unfortunately, I was also there for judging and could not spend enough time with them. When it’s your first time in Cannes and you don’t know many people, you can feel extremely lonely in a very superficial environment. As to be expected, they were quite disenchanted really quickly and never wanted to attend Cannes again.

JL: Hangovers.

JU: Not entering “Holograms for Freedom” in the Film Craft: Achievement in Production category. We had doubts and finally didn’t do it. After seeing the nature of the category winners, I was left with the sensation that they might have awarded us too. I will never know.

Is the festival worth the hype?

DS: It’s a great place for people in our industry to congregate. It’s less about awards and more about a celebration of the work pushing boundaries. Work that redefines what we do.

DR: Depends on your reasons for going. If, as for me, it’s to meet old and new friends, be inspired and learn, then absolutely yes.

VM: Sadly, no. The money can be put to better use, like training and other forms of inspiration.

JL: It is. For me it’s important just to be there. The talks—you actually can watch them online, but the conversations you have—that’s the real inspiration.

JU: Yes. There are other important festivals, that one may argue are even more difficult to be awarded at, such as the One Show, LIA or Clio. But Cannes is the most international, and it has glamour. Also, it’s in Cannes.

LS: Definitely, YES.

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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