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Inside the Palais: Cannes Lions 2018

Inside the Palais: Cannes Lions 2018

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

June 18, 2018

Speakers on Day One at the festival weren’t afraid to dive right into polarizing topics.

An unusual journey in advertising. A renewed focus on men, not just women, in the gender inequality discussion. And the chronicles of the first days of the Trump White House. No topic was too sensitive, or controversial, for speakers on Day One at Cannes Lions 2018. They discussed seemingly everything, with the talks going far beyond the walls of the Palais—many reverberating through social media and prompting one-on-ones in the aisles of a bustling Lumière Theatre.

9:55 a.m. “I’m Not Sure I’m Right, But Who Is?”

The first keynote speaker of the day: David Droga, Co-Founder and Creative Chairman at Droga5. In true Droga style, he began his panel with an unconventional start: “I’m not going to give you a normal speech. I’m not going to tell you about trends, vision, or what I believe. But I want to give you stories from my 30 years that had led me here,” Droga said as he recounted his unorthodox journey in advertising.

Launching his career in the mailroom at Grey in Sydney, Droga told a silenced auditorium that long before his days as a top advertising executive, he knew that this was the industry for him. “I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I knew that I wanted to be creative.”

Despite several challenges, but with a series of opportunities that took him to different parts of the world, he says that he never lost his initial fervor and motivation. “I moved to Singapore sight unseen. I thought: ‘I want to try to prove that I’m open and capable of learning from different markets.’ It was an amazing experience, and I got to work with the most forward-thinking, creative people.”

“Throughout my entire career, I’ve always believed in the power of what we do and the power of creativity,” Droga continued. “Good intentions, talent, and ethics—they will power through anything.”

Some poignant, pithy Droga advice: “Bad advertising serves no purpose,” he said. “Advertising isn’t going away. Sh*tty advertising is going away.”

11:02 p.m. “Fire and Fury: The New Normal”

Next up in the Lumière Theatre was a guest whose work has sparked controversy that’s reached the rooms of the White House. Jeff Goodby, Co-Chainman and Partner of agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, kicked off a candid interview with author Michael Wolff with an amusing late-night talk show parody.

After a few chuckles, Goodby and Wolff walked out on stage asking the crowd, “How are you doing?” Wolff, the author of the bestseller, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” willingly answered any and all questions about his days as a guest in the White House—a time that, of course, led to his controversial book. He says his style of research for the book was sort of old-fashioned. “I sat in the White House—and people opened up,” he said. “You see, the press core does a different thing than I do. Political reporters asks questions. I ask no questions. It’s a sort of older style of reporting. I’m a magazine journalist.”

“But you know, you just write what’s in front of you,” Wolff continued. “I ultimately ended up writing a story about the people around him [Trump]… It was extraordinary how these people hadn’t considered the huge scrutiny that they would be under [as officials in the White House].”

Of course, Goodby asked the famed writer about his opinions on the current administration.

“He’s [Trump’s] self-obsessed. He doesn’t care about anyone. He’s not loyal to anyone. It’s all about him,” Wolff said. “It’s the greatest story of our time. I don’t know that it’s existential. But it’s extraordinary. These are extraordinary characters. Donald Trump is truly larger than life.”

1:02 p.m “The Death of Masculinity and Its Impact on Creativity”

“While everybody’s thinking about women, what about men?,” asked futurist and consultant Faith Popcorn, who with a panel of three, tackled the hard-hitting topic of gender inequality. But this wasn’t the familiar narrative that’s been dominating the conversation about the advancement of women. “At the end of this conversation, we’re going to learn a lot more about men,” Popcorn promised.

Also on the Lumière stage was Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of female entrepreneurs and advocacy group The Riveter, along with Michael Kimmel, a sociologist at Stony Brook University, and Violet Chachki, American drag queen, burlesque dancer, recording artist, TV personality, and model.

Why the renewed focus on men in the gender equality discussion? “We know that we can’t fully empower girls and women without engaging men. Gender equality is not a zero-sum game—it’s actually a win-win,” said Kimmel to the crowd.

But just as important, the panel said, is the evolving perception of masculinity. Nelson gave three descriptions to define the old perception of masculinity: “Pride, power, and Don Draper with a cigarette.” Other words that came up in the discussion: breadwinner, unemotional, and quiet desperation.

“In the past five years or so, there’s been a shift in ideology, not just behavior. What’s different now is that men are saying that [being emotional] is part of being a man. Being kind and there for your family [is masculine],” said Kimmel.

Chachki continued the conversation. “ It’s time for change. I think the youth is just a bit fed up with the old generation.” And then came the discussion of new, more fluid definitions—ones that are not so binary as men and women. “Being gender fluid to me is directly related to the conversations around masculinity,” Chachki said, emphasizing that our current definitions are much more inclusive and open.

“This is a good thing. It’s good for the market. It’s good for all of us,” said Nelson. “We live in a world where we have several genders—two of them being men and women.”

Ultimately, brands and companies will have to work on creating inclusive environments that promote gender equality and places of work that support people being their authentic selves—however they define their gender.

“No matter how we’re marketing, if a company isn’t walking the walk then it’s not going to work,” Nelson said. “When we talk about media, and when we talk about marketing, let’s hold companies accountable.”

Popcorn left the audience with some direct and final words: “This is a fact: change or die out.”

An unusual journey in advertising. A renewed focus on men, not just women, in the gender inequality discussion. And the chronicles of the first days of the Trump White House. No topic was too sensitive, or controversial, for speakers on Day One at Cannes Lions 2018. They discussed seemingly everything, with the talks going far beyond the walls of the Palais—many reverberating through social media and prompting one-on-ones in the aisles of a bustling Lumière Theatre.

9:55 a.m. “I’m Not Sure I’m Right, But Who Is?”

The first keynote speaker of the day: David Droga, Co-Founder and Creative Chairman at Droga5. In true Droga style, he began his panel with an unconventional start: “I’m not going to give you a normal speech. I’m not going to tell you about trends, vision, or what I believe. But I want to give you stories from my 30 years that had led me here,” Droga said as he recounted his unorthodox journey in advertising.

Launching his career in the mailroom at Grey in Sydney, Droga told a silenced auditorium that long before his days as a top advertising executive, he knew that this was the industry for him. “I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I knew that I wanted to be creative.”

Despite several challenges, but with a series of opportunities that took him to different parts of the world, he says that he never lost his initial fervor and motivation. “I moved to Singapore sight unseen. I thought: ‘I want to try to prove that I’m open and capable of learning from different markets.’ It was an amazing experience, and I got to work with the most forward-thinking, creative people.”

“Throughout my entire career, I’ve always believed in the power of what we do and the power of creativity,” Droga continued. “Good intentions, talent, and ethics—they will power through anything.”

Some poignant, pithy Droga advice: “Bad advertising serves no purpose,” he said. “Advertising isn’t going away. Sh*tty advertising is going away.”

11:02 p.m. “Fire and Fury: The New Normal”

Next up in the Lumière Theatre was a guest whose work has sparked controversy that’s reached the rooms of the White House. Jeff Goodby, Co-Chainman and Partner of agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, kicked off a candid interview with author Michael Wolff with an amusing late-night talk show parody.

After a few chuckles, Goodby and Wolff walked out on stage asking the crowd, “How are you doing?” Wolff, the author of the bestseller, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” willingly answered any and all questions about his days as a guest in the White House—a time that, of course, led to his controversial book. He says his style of research for the book was sort of old-fashioned. “I sat in the White House—and people opened up,” he said. “You see, the press core does a different thing than I do. Political reporters asks questions. I ask no questions. It’s a sort of older style of reporting. I’m a magazine journalist.”

“But you know, you just write what’s in front of you,” Wolff continued. “I ultimately ended up writing a story about the people around him [Trump]… It was extraordinary how these people hadn’t considered the huge scrutiny that they would be under [as officials in the White House].”

Of course, Goodby asked the famed writer about his opinions on the current administration.

“He’s [Trump’s] self-obsessed. He doesn’t care about anyone. He’s not loyal to anyone. It’s all about him,” Wolff said. “It’s the greatest story of our time. I don’t know that it’s existential. But it’s extraordinary. These are extraordinary characters. Donald Trump is truly larger than life.”

1:02 p.m “The Death of Masculinity and Its Impact on Creativity”

“While everybody’s thinking about women, what about men?,” asked futurist and consultant Faith Popcorn, who with a panel of three, tackled the hard-hitting topic of gender inequality. But this wasn’t the familiar narrative that’s been dominating the conversation about the advancement of women. “At the end of this conversation, we’re going to learn a lot more about men,” Popcorn promised.

Also on the Lumière stage was Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of female entrepreneurs and advocacy group The Riveter, along with Michael Kimmel, a sociologist at Stony Brook University, and Violet Chachki, American drag queen, burlesque dancer, recording artist, TV personality, and model.

Why the renewed focus on men in the gender equality discussion? “We know that we can’t fully empower girls and women without engaging men. Gender equality is not a zero-sum game—it’s actually a win-win,” said Kimmel to the crowd.

But just as important, the panel said, is the evolving perception of masculinity. Nelson gave three descriptions to define the old perception of masculinity: “Pride, power, and Don Draper with a cigarette.” Other words that came up in the discussion: breadwinner, unemotional, and quiet desperation.

“In the past five years or so, there’s been a shift in ideology, not just behavior. What’s different now is that men are saying that [being emotional] is part of being a man. Being kind and there for your family [is masculine],” said Kimmel.

Chachki continued the conversation. “ It’s time for change. I think the youth is just a bit fed up with the old generation.” And then came the discussion of new, more fluid definitions—ones that are not so binary as men and women. “Being gender fluid to me is directly related to the conversations around masculinity,” Chachki said, emphasizing that our current definitions are much more inclusive and open.

“This is a good thing. It’s good for the market. It’s good for all of us,” said Nelson. “We live in a world where we have several genders—two of them being men and women.”

Ultimately, brands and companies will have to work on creating inclusive environments that promote gender equality and places of work that support people being their authentic selves—however they define their gender.

“No matter how we’re marketing, if a company isn’t walking the walk then it’s not going to work,” Nelson said. “When we talk about media, and when we talk about marketing, let’s hold companies accountable.”

Popcorn left the audience with some direct and final words: “This is a fact: change or die out.”

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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