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The Cannes Pledge

The Cannes Pledge

Patti Clarke

Patti Clarke

June 18, 2018

Patti Clarke, Chief Talent Officer at Havas Group, considers a simple pledge to guide the Cannes experience.

"There is such a need—now more than ever—to listen to one another and have meaningful discussions."

As we begin yet another year at Cannes, I’m sure everyone has finalized their calendars with the requisite networking meetings, social outings, and panels or presentations that they’ll want to attend at the Palais. We’ve noted which creative work to examine a bit closer and, of course, we all follow the submissions from our own networks. My favorite from Havas:



Pledge to Care

The Palau Pledge by Host/Havas, for example, is focused on the Republic of Palau, a small island situated in the Pacific Ocean that’s home to just 20,000 people—but it welcomes more than 160,000 visitors each year. That swarm of visitors has had a great effect on the country’s fragile ecosystem.

The idea is simple: Before entering the country, tourists sign a passport pledge promising to respect the island’s natural environment. No wildlife disruption. No littering. No ransacking the foliage. It’s a commitment to care about the environment and the island’s posterity.

Making Cannes More Meaningful

Viewing the Palau work got me thinking about the power of a pledge. I started to wonder: Can we make Cannes more meaningful through a pledge?

It’s so easy to become bogged down running to the Palais, meeting up, networking, getting to The Carlton, and of course, there is “the rosé.” But let’s be honest with ourselves: There’s a lot going on in the world—and our industry. We’re facing a reckoning amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements; there’s increasing focus and action on diversity and inclusion, and we have a renewed focus on emotional health—all reflecting a constant demand for progress and change.

At the core of all these issues is a need for respect of the individual, respect for the power of our differences, and respect for the fact that even though someone says they’re fine they may not be. We all want to be good at understanding others’ viewpoints and perspectives, but the reality is we often sacrifice that understanding for speed or habits of how we’ve done things before. Quite simply, it’s easier to make decisions—or even create work—with who and what we already know.  

In the digital age, connecting to people is easier than ever—yet the ability to listen seems to be lessening. There is such a need—now more than ever—to listen to one another and have meaningful discussions. So with 16,000 attendees at the Cannes Lions, all who are gathered with the common purpose of celebrating creativity, I think we have a real opportunity this week to break the cycle of casual conversations and networking. How about a pledge to be more meaningful?

"Take that extra two minutes out of your day to have a conversation with someone you normally wouldn’t..."

Let’s speak about things with depth and importance—and listen intently to others’ perspectives.  

If we do that while in Cannes, our industry’s biggest gathering, we can set the precedent for new behavior to take with us whenever we go. Take that extra two minutes out of your day to have a conversation with someone you normally wouldn’t; you might be surprised what you’ll learn.

You might make his or her day—and you may also get some interesting input and insights. As author Ralph Nichols once said: “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

We’re all fortunate to be at an event filled with the sharpest minds who influence the industry, so let’s try to connect with as many of them as possible with meaning and purpose. Let’s make Cannes more meaningful.

"There is such a need—now more than ever—to listen to one another and have meaningful discussions."

As we begin yet another year at Cannes, I’m sure everyone has finalized their calendars with the requisite networking meetings, social outings, and panels or presentations that they’ll want to attend at the Palais. We’ve noted which creative work to examine a bit closer and, of course, we all follow the submissions from our own networks. My favorite from Havas:



Pledge to Care

The Palau Pledge by Host/Havas, for example, is focused on the Republic of Palau, a small island situated in the Pacific Ocean that’s home to just 20,000 people—but it welcomes more than 160,000 visitors each year. That swarm of visitors has had a great effect on the country’s fragile ecosystem.

The idea is simple: Before entering the country, tourists sign a passport pledge promising to respect the island’s natural environment. No wildlife disruption. No littering. No ransacking the foliage. It’s a commitment to care about the environment and the island’s posterity.

Making Cannes More Meaningful

Viewing the Palau work got me thinking about the power of a pledge. I started to wonder: Can we make Cannes more meaningful through a pledge?

It’s so easy to become bogged down running to the Palais, meeting up, networking, getting to The Carlton, and of course, there is “the rosé.” But let’s be honest with ourselves: There’s a lot going on in the world—and our industry. We’re facing a reckoning amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements; there’s increasing focus and action on diversity and inclusion, and we have a renewed focus on emotional health—all reflecting a constant demand for progress and change.

At the core of all these issues is a need for respect of the individual, respect for the power of our differences, and respect for the fact that even though someone says they’re fine they may not be. We all want to be good at understanding others’ viewpoints and perspectives, but the reality is we often sacrifice that understanding for speed or habits of how we’ve done things before. Quite simply, it’s easier to make decisions—or even create work—with who and what we already know.  

In the digital age, connecting to people is easier than ever—yet the ability to listen seems to be lessening. There is such a need—now more than ever—to listen to one another and have meaningful discussions. So with 16,000 attendees at the Cannes Lions, all who are gathered with the common purpose of celebrating creativity, I think we have a real opportunity this week to break the cycle of casual conversations and networking. How about a pledge to be more meaningful?

"Take that extra two minutes out of your day to have a conversation with someone you normally wouldn’t..."

Let’s speak about things with depth and importance—and listen intently to others’ perspectives.  

If we do that while in Cannes, our industry’s biggest gathering, we can set the precedent for new behavior to take with us whenever we go. Take that extra two minutes out of your day to have a conversation with someone you normally wouldn’t; you might be surprised what you’ll learn.

You might make his or her day—and you may also get some interesting input and insights. As author Ralph Nichols once said: “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

We’re all fortunate to be at an event filled with the sharpest minds who influence the industry, so let’s try to connect with as many of them as possible with meaning and purpose. Let’s make Cannes more meaningful.

Patti Clarke is Chief Talent Officer at Havas Group.

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