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Cannes 2019: Lions and Crocs, and The Bear...Oh my

Cannes 2019: Lions and Crocs, and The Bear...Oh my

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

June 16, 2019

“Avoid bad rosé,” says BETC’s Stéphane Xiberras.

"I will admit that I always try to sneak animals into my campaigns...I probably need to talk to my therapist about it."

BETC Paris’ President and Chief Creative Officer and head of Havas Group’s Creative Council,  Stéphane Xiberras, discusses the Cannes experience: what it’s like to win a Cannes Lion, the infamous “The Bear“ spot, and what he needs to talk to his therapist about.

Fill in the blank: Creativity is…intelligence having fun (and I didn’t come up with that).

You began your career as an intern at a now-defunct agency. What drew you to advertising, and what has kept you in the industry?

I always loved telling stories and I always believed the power of our imagination is unlimited. Advertising pulled me in early on because of the way it makes the commercial link between brands and consumers more human, thanks to the stories we dream up and tell.

What can you tell us about your first time at Cannes?

I reckon I slept for about two hours in four days. During the days, I watched pretty much all the works (long lists, and also at the time there were a lot fewer conferences to attend), and at night I went to all the parties. Took me two full weeks to recover.

How have you seen the festival change over the years?

I think that the biggest difference is all the conferences and talks that have taken such a big part of the festival beyond the competition. I think it’s fantastic that our industry has this place to exchange and meet at a global level.

What is your favorite part of the Cannes experience?

I love being a juror and getting there before everyone else. Everything is tranquil, quiet…and then four days later you see the workers arrive and build up the pavilions, and then–thousands of people walking fast on the Croisette, speaking different languages.

You were behind Canal+’s “The Bear,” which won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix Film Craft in 2012, and is the most awarded film in the history of the Gunn Report. What do you think it is about that piece of work that has made it so successful?

This film really represents the type of universal humor that I love. I will admit that I always try to sneak animals into my campaigns (penguins, bears, crocodiles and, more recently, bees and a duck). I probably need to talk to my therapist about it.

On a serious note though, I think this film worked really well in festivals because it is a tale about our work as creatives: people telling stories, being passionate to the point they balance on the edge of madness, obsessed by details that no one will ever notice – basically funny beasts.

Over the years, you and BETC have won numerous Cannes Lions. What’s it like hearing your name announced and going up on stage at the Palais?

Firstly, there’s an immense feeling of pride. There’s also the feeling that behind those 20 seconds on stage, there are THOUSANDS of hours of meetings, presentations, tests, discussions, tears, set-backs, rebound…it’s unimaginable really. Being shortlisted is a small miracle. So winning gold is…

"I think it will be very hard for brands to bullshit the newer generations."

You’ve described being on a Cannes jury as being both “tough” and “exciting.” Why is that?

It is really hard because there are so many pieces of work to judge. You get up at dawn and stay locked in, pressing buttons until midnight for days straight. It’s important to not lose focus! Then it’s exciting because when it comes to the discussion, you get to confront your own point of view with those of the other jurors and that is an absolutely fascinating experience, comparing cultures and personalities.

What’s your favorite Cannes memory?

It must be when we won Gold for our Canal+ ad “The Closet” and the entire room exploded with laughter and didn’t stop for two minutes!

You’ve been in the industry for quite some time and have seen it all. So, what’s the next big thing in advertising?

I think it will be very hard for brands to bullshit the newer generations. I think it is in all of our interest (brands, creative agencies, media agencies, and consultancies) to be sincere in our offerings and everything that we do.

What inspires you?

Curiosity. For everything. Culture in every form (including video games). Love for people. Technology. Animals.  

What would be your advice to someone going to Cannes for the first time this year?

Avoid bad rosé.

"I will admit that I always try to sneak animals into my campaigns...I probably need to talk to my therapist about it."

BETC Paris’ President and Chief Creative Officer and head of Havas Group’s Creative Council,  Stéphane Xiberras, discusses the Cannes experience: what it’s like to win a Cannes Lion, the infamous “The Bear“ spot, and what he needs to talk to his therapist about.

Fill in the blank: Creativity is…intelligence having fun (and I didn’t come up with that).

You began your career as an intern at a now-defunct agency. What drew you to advertising, and what has kept you in the industry?

I always loved telling stories and I always believed the power of our imagination is unlimited. Advertising pulled me in early on because of the way it makes the commercial link between brands and consumers more human, thanks to the stories we dream up and tell.

What can you tell us about your first time at Cannes?

I reckon I slept for about two hours in four days. During the days, I watched pretty much all the works (long lists, and also at the time there were a lot fewer conferences to attend), and at night I went to all the parties. Took me two full weeks to recover.

How have you seen the festival change over the years?

I think that the biggest difference is all the conferences and talks that have taken such a big part of the festival beyond the competition. I think it’s fantastic that our industry has this place to exchange and meet at a global level.

What is your favorite part of the Cannes experience?

I love being a juror and getting there before everyone else. Everything is tranquil, quiet…and then four days later you see the workers arrive and build up the pavilions, and then–thousands of people walking fast on the Croisette, speaking different languages.

You were behind Canal+’s “The Bear,” which won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix Film Craft in 2012, and is the most awarded film in the history of the Gunn Report. What do you think it is about that piece of work that has made it so successful?

This film really represents the type of universal humor that I love. I will admit that I always try to sneak animals into my campaigns (penguins, bears, crocodiles and, more recently, bees and a duck). I probably need to talk to my therapist about it.

On a serious note though, I think this film worked really well in festivals because it is a tale about our work as creatives: people telling stories, being passionate to the point they balance on the edge of madness, obsessed by details that no one will ever notice – basically funny beasts.

Over the years, you and BETC have won numerous Cannes Lions. What’s it like hearing your name announced and going up on stage at the Palais?

Firstly, there’s an immense feeling of pride. There’s also the feeling that behind those 20 seconds on stage, there are THOUSANDS of hours of meetings, presentations, tests, discussions, tears, set-backs, rebound…it’s unimaginable really. Being shortlisted is a small miracle. So winning gold is…

"I think it will be very hard for brands to bullshit the newer generations."

You’ve described being on a Cannes jury as being both “tough” and “exciting.” Why is that?

It is really hard because there are so many pieces of work to judge. You get up at dawn and stay locked in, pressing buttons until midnight for days straight. It’s important to not lose focus! Then it’s exciting because when it comes to the discussion, you get to confront your own point of view with those of the other jurors and that is an absolutely fascinating experience, comparing cultures and personalities.

What’s your favorite Cannes memory?

It must be when we won Gold for our Canal+ ad “The Closet” and the entire room exploded with laughter and didn’t stop for two minutes!

You’ve been in the industry for quite some time and have seen it all. So, what’s the next big thing in advertising?

I think it will be very hard for brands to bullshit the newer generations. I think it is in all of our interest (brands, creative agencies, media agencies, and consultancies) to be sincere in our offerings and everything that we do.

What inspires you?

Curiosity. For everything. Culture in every form (including video games). Love for people. Technology. Animals.  

What would be your advice to someone going to Cannes for the first time this year?

Avoid bad rosé.

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

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