Monday, June 23, 2014

The Cannes Festival is over. Is the winning work any good?

Well, what a relief that the endless stream of sun-dappled beach and cafe pictures, with the obligatory cocktail or glass of pink Chateau Quleque-chose in the foreground, are over. Back to the real world for the lot of you.

Pic Courtesy Arlene Donnenburg. 

Not that I'm envious at all. I managed to save my South African Rands, and still watched some great seminars from the comfort of my heated office in freezing Cape Town. And I didn't have a hangover once.

So given that I was a virtual voyeur of the Festivale, which used to be called the International Advertising Festival and now is known as the somewhat loftier International festival of Creativity, I have a few learnings, observations, musings, mutterings.

The first is the mobile is where it will be, and the developing world has the most opportunity. Watch Keith Weed from Unilever's views here

The second is that ideas still matter. More than ever.

The third is that the name should revert to the Festival of Advertising, not Festival of Creativity. Just because it's a 3-D billboard, or a prosthetic arm, or an App that looks after your kids on the beach doesn't mean that somehow it's stopped being advertising. 

MegaFon's MegaFaces Billboard at the Sochi Olympics

This is not a festival for pure creative, because that would then encompass art, and graffiti and music and film and books and a whole bunch of other creative pursuits. This is creativity in service of business. It's creativity that is helping brands grow. And that, in my humble view, is called Advertising.

Of course Sir John Hegarty said it best - listen to his view on this point here.

Another point is that many of the winners were familiar work, already. Both the Grand Prix Winners for Film had already been seen many times; in the case of Volvo Trucks  over 73 million times.  Fourth learning: great work gets shared. Great work is amplified. T'was ever thus, but so much more powerful today.

But for my fifth and I think most interesting learning, back to my headline. An article in the USA Today had this headline "Incredibly Unusual Ads take Top Cannes Awards".

Which got me thinking - why are they unusual? Awards shows are always controversial, but unusual? Are the winners any good?

And that's the beauty of Cannes. 

Whatever the festival is called. Because it forces those of us in the pursuit of great advertising to challenge our notions of what great looks like. And to share in the choices of experienced judging panels. And to ponder and wonder what they saw in those pieces, and why the mood of the winners feels quite different to the winners last year. And whether we personally think they're good or great.

And that's the greatest learning of all. Everyone in the business of marketing communication needs to constantly review, question, discuss, have a point of view. Watch the seminars. Learn. Listen. Grow. That's the practice needed to constantly get better at this.

Btw, the journalist of the "Unusual Ads win Cannes" story, quotes:

Harvey Nichols Christmas Campaign
The Harvey Nichols "Sorry I Spent It on Myself" campaign focuses on people who buy their loved ones inexpensive holiday gifts, such as rubber bands and paper clips that come in Harvey Nichols-branded packaging, so they can spend more on themselves. 
The retailer actually sold the cheap, unusual presents featured in its ad — and sold out in just under three days.

Harvey Nichols' advertising approach was "brave" and "flew in the face of convention around holiday advertising," said film jury member Pete Favat, who is the chief creative officer at ad agency Deutsch LA, in Los Angeles. "For a retailer to take their highest-selling season and do something like this is remarkably bold."

Brave, bold, convention-breaking, successful. Those have always been hallmarks of great advertising. So not really unusual at all. The only unusual bit is that so few marketers will make this type of work.

To summarise.

My brain is full. My heart is inspired. Onwards brave warriors. Do your best. Because in the end, everybody wins.


Adtherapy is a consulting and advertising skills-building company that is on a quest to #ridtheworldofbadadvertising

Contact Gillian on if you want to join the quest, or want some advice on how to make better advertising.Or you can follow, chat on Twitter @grightford@grightford

No comments:

Post a Comment