havas Content printed form Havas - The Download - https://download.havas.com/posts/cannes-2018-jacques-seguela-on-creativity/
Agency Life

Cannes 2018: Jacques Séguéla on Creativity

Cannes 2018: Jacques Séguéla on Creativity

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

June 16, 2018

“It's not Cannes that is changing, but the world,” says the highly quotable creative leader.

"Cannes is a rare opportunity to take stock of yourself..."

Jacques Séguéla, the S in Euro RSCG, is one of France’s most revered and outspoken creative figures. He brings nearly half a century of experience (also as a pharmacist and a reporter) to Havas Group where he serves as a creative consultant and a member of the Havas Global Creative Council.

Séguéla, who has been attending the Cannes Lions festival for nearly 50 years, spoke with us about the festival, creativity, and what snow should mean to an advertiser.

 

I read that you were a pharmacist before you got your start in advertising. How did you get into advertising and what attracted you to this business?

At the age of 23, I set out to do my doctoral thesis in pharmacy and study rare medicinal plants. This allowed me to achieve two dreams in one: getting my doctorate but, above all, making the first round-the-world trip in a French car. The icing on the cake was doing it in a Citroën 2CV, the car that was to change my life.

A year after I returned, I would write my first book, which would open up the gates of journalism, and begin my career as a child of advertising. First, as a child of the press, as a reporter for Paris Match, which would teach me the impact of photos, and then for France-Soir, which would teach me the weight of words, only to end up in an agency that would allow me to join the two together.

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

Your first Cannes is like your first love, never to be forgotten. I first went in the early 70s (already half a century ago, barely half a century) when the festival was held in Venice. I was lucky enough to win my first Lion there. The first nights of love are generally a failure; mine was a state of grace.

How have you seen the festival change over the years?

It’s not Cannes that is changing, but the world. And advertising is the mirror of the world, a mirror of society and of technology, constantly evolving as technology advances.

Creativity has known three eras, the era of Cannes in the 70s and early 80s, years of enchantment, of the thrilling and passionate discovery of a new profession that is more than just a profession, the art of seduction. That was the heyday of advertising, the time when advertising was as the greatest show in town, of crazy ideas, of everything is possible. How could you not love it?

The second era ran from the ‘90s to 2010, the years of competition, globalization, professionalism, all underpinned by rampant creativity, more professional, more ethical, more aesthetic.

The third was the arrival of the internet, the fragmentation of the multiplication of categories, the inflation of the Lions, the ideas machine becoming a money machine.

Now we are entering the fourth era, the mandatory era of a Cannes that puts creativity first, because tech without affect is nothing but the ruination of the soul.

"In short, a week of introspection, modesty, and looking to the future."

What is your favorite part of Cannes?

The incredible round-the-world tour of creativity in just one week.

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

Turn up for the screenings, not the cocktail parties. Cannes is a rare opportunity to take stock of yourself: how am I doing with my little talent compared to the immense talent of others? Where do I go and not find others there before me? How do I draw my agency, whatever my place in it, into the race I am running? In short, a week of introspection, modesty, and looking to the future.

What do you love about the advertising industry?

This is the job of all jobs. We need to know as much about our clients’ markets as they do, but differently. That’s the secret of a long professional life. This is a job of plurals that is so singular, because it focuses on an idea whose only value is its singularity, and that’s why I love it with an infinite passion. Not a day dawns without something new in advertising. What other job can say as much?

You once said there were three ways of advertising—the English, French, and American ways. Do you still see advertising that way?

Advertising has gone global, but globalization should never rule out civilization. Every people has its soul, its history, its culture, its failings, and its excesses.  Advertising should uphold its values and its differences. Every continent has its own “way of advertising.” What would the world be if it were all the same? Uniformity, that cancer of creativity, inevitably gives rise to boredom.

What’s the best campaign you’ve seen this year so far?

Advertising is like Christian charity: the best begins at home. Like the magical idea that came to our Australian agency, Host/Havas, to wonder why we greet with such fervor the list of the 100 richest people in the world, and not that of the 100 poorest. Such a simple and a beautiful idea, I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it myself.

What country or region do you think is ripe for a creative explosion?

China. It was only a matter of time as it’s the biggest market in the world. Also Asia as a whole, driven by its neighbor Australia, which is fast becoming a second California for creativity.

Finally, where do you find inspiration?

I have searched through poetry for 60 years for a definition of my job, and all I have found is one question. Ask an advertiser what snow turns into when it melts, and the answer will be “water.” Not for me. For me, it turns into spring. Advertising creates the eternal springtime of brands. It is the eternal springtime of life. Thank you, advertising.

 

Photo credit: © Potman

"Cannes is a rare opportunity to take stock of yourself..."

Jacques Séguéla, the S in Euro RSCG, is one of France’s most revered and outspoken creative figures. He brings nearly half a century of experience (also as a pharmacist and a reporter) to Havas Group where he serves as a creative consultant and a member of the Havas Global Creative Council.

Séguéla, who has been attending the Cannes Lions festival for nearly 50 years, spoke with us about the festival, creativity, and what snow should mean to an advertiser.

 

I read that you were a pharmacist before you got your start in advertising. How did you get into advertising and what attracted you to this business?

At the age of 23, I set out to do my doctoral thesis in pharmacy and study rare medicinal plants. This allowed me to achieve two dreams in one: getting my doctorate but, above all, making the first round-the-world trip in a French car. The icing on the cake was doing it in a Citroën 2CV, the car that was to change my life.

A year after I returned, I would write my first book, which would open up the gates of journalism, and begin my career as a child of advertising. First, as a child of the press, as a reporter for Paris Match, which would teach me the impact of photos, and then for France-Soir, which would teach me the weight of words, only to end up in an agency that would allow me to join the two together.

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

Your first Cannes is like your first love, never to be forgotten. I first went in the early 70s (already half a century ago, barely half a century) when the festival was held in Venice. I was lucky enough to win my first Lion there. The first nights of love are generally a failure; mine was a state of grace.

How have you seen the festival change over the years?

It’s not Cannes that is changing, but the world. And advertising is the mirror of the world, a mirror of society and of technology, constantly evolving as technology advances.

Creativity has known three eras, the era of Cannes in the 70s and early 80s, years of enchantment, of the thrilling and passionate discovery of a new profession that is more than just a profession, the art of seduction. That was the heyday of advertising, the time when advertising was as the greatest show in town, of crazy ideas, of everything is possible. How could you not love it?

The second era ran from the ‘90s to 2010, the years of competition, globalization, professionalism, all underpinned by rampant creativity, more professional, more ethical, more aesthetic.

The third was the arrival of the internet, the fragmentation of the multiplication of categories, the inflation of the Lions, the ideas machine becoming a money machine.

Now we are entering the fourth era, the mandatory era of a Cannes that puts creativity first, because tech without affect is nothing but the ruination of the soul.

"In short, a week of introspection, modesty, and looking to the future."

What is your favorite part of Cannes?

The incredible round-the-world tour of creativity in just one week.

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

Turn up for the screenings, not the cocktail parties. Cannes is a rare opportunity to take stock of yourself: how am I doing with my little talent compared to the immense talent of others? Where do I go and not find others there before me? How do I draw my agency, whatever my place in it, into the race I am running? In short, a week of introspection, modesty, and looking to the future.

What do you love about the advertising industry?

This is the job of all jobs. We need to know as much about our clients’ markets as they do, but differently. That’s the secret of a long professional life. This is a job of plurals that is so singular, because it focuses on an idea whose only value is its singularity, and that’s why I love it with an infinite passion. Not a day dawns without something new in advertising. What other job can say as much?

You once said there were three ways of advertising—the English, French, and American ways. Do you still see advertising that way?

Advertising has gone global, but globalization should never rule out civilization. Every people has its soul, its history, its culture, its failings, and its excesses.  Advertising should uphold its values and its differences. Every continent has its own “way of advertising.” What would the world be if it were all the same? Uniformity, that cancer of creativity, inevitably gives rise to boredom.

What’s the best campaign you’ve seen this year so far?

Advertising is like Christian charity: the best begins at home. Like the magical idea that came to our Australian agency, Host/Havas, to wonder why we greet with such fervor the list of the 100 richest people in the world, and not that of the 100 poorest. Such a simple and a beautiful idea, I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it myself.

What country or region do you think is ripe for a creative explosion?

China. It was only a matter of time as it’s the biggest market in the world. Also Asia as a whole, driven by its neighbor Australia, which is fast becoming a second California for creativity.

Finally, where do you find inspiration?

I have searched through poetry for 60 years for a definition of my job, and all I have found is one question. Ask an advertiser what snow turns into when it melts, and the answer will be “water.” Not for me. For me, it turns into spring. Advertising creates the eternal springtime of brands. It is the eternal springtime of life. Thank you, advertising.

 

Photo credit: © Potman

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

contact our office

Call:

Stop by:

Connect: