We are Bran the Broken. We are the keeper of stories. We are the work.

VMLY&R's executive director, experience, on how this year's work tees us up for the next decade.

There's something 'bout that work, work, work, work, work, work.

When you a gon' learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn.

Me na care if me tired, tired, tired, tired, tired, tired.

Rihanna, in perfect form, simple and sublime, so succinctly sums up this year’s Cannes Lions for me in the first few lines of her famous song Work.

"There is truly something ‘bout that work."

When you see it all, on grand display, being unabashedly flaunted by the amazing and talented teams that worked tirelessly to create it. Not just one piece of work, but the entirety of it all together is what is exciting me this year.

I can’t think of one single piece of work (I admit I haven’t seen it all yet, but I have seen a lot of it) that has me enamored and jealous all at the same time. I am not sure I can isolate one case that made me curse the high heavens for not blessing me with that idea.

So for me, this year’s shining star at Cannes is…the work.

It’s 2019 and we are on the doorstep of a new decade.

This past year has felt like one, elongated, drawn out, giant page turn.

The industry has been in flux for some time now. The headlines we read say talent is scarce, budgets are drying up, client trust is waning, and consultancies are circling agencies like sharks in open waters.

Agencies all around have gone through consolidations, massive transformations, organizational reconfigurations and more. It’s been a busy year. But we are here, we are committed and are ready to fight the good fight for a golden era of creativity, innovation and reinvention.

Despite all of this change, despite all of the disruption, despite all of the challenges we have had to endure there is one signal that gives us all a glimmer of hope.

A signal that binds us and that calls us collectively. A signal that resonates the same way in each one of us. A signal that helps us find our way towards a new and brighter future ad industry.

That signal is… the work.

When you think about the sheer volume of work submitted from every corner of the world. Amazing ideas and campaigns that took blood, sweat and tears to create. A collection of creativity that in it’s aggregate says we are still here and we are still the most creative and innovative people in the world.

The entirely of it all, awarded or not, a global collection of ideas that got made, many with tiny budgets, within a small window of time, by a global community of people who hustle day in and day out to produce impactful work that not only communicates brand messages but that aspires to help move the world into a new place where commerce and content and community and compassion all live together.

A world where companies are now held to a much higher standard, where purpose is more important than profits. Where shared experiences are now the new currency for attention and where both corporations and consumers, together, are competing for an emotional and psychological relationship with the world.

In the past, the best work has been about clever, well-crafted executions, ideas that seemed to have tricked the entire world into getting made, ideas that might be too clever for their own good.

However this year much of the work feels like a collection of new ideas with great potential wrapped up in both artistry and skill. Work that is both hyper-local and truly global, work that both captures the imagination and that values people’s time and intelligence rather than the empty and shallow "brand firsts" and "platform hacks" of the past.

With the turning tide of the industry also comes a respect for the real work we do day in and day out.

So as we prepare to head to Cannes 2019 to close out this tumultuous decade, let’s all make sure we take the time to celebrate our accomplishments and to lock arms together and raise a glass of rosé to the next chapter of this great industry.

Lets celebrate all of the work, collectively, as a signal of hope and a beacon for where we are headed and where we want to see our great industry in 2020.

With that said I leave you with the wise words of Lord Tyrion Lannister, the youngest child of Lord Tywin Lannister and younger brother of Cersei and Jaime Lannister (gratuitous, nerdy pop culture reference).

"What unites people?" Tyrion asked.

"Armies? Gold? Flags?" No. It’s stories, he said. "There's nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than Bran the Broken? The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He's our memory. The keeper of all our stories. The wars, weddings, births, massacres, famines, our triumphs, our defeats, our past. Who better to lead us into the future?"

We are Bran the Broken. We are the keeper of stories, we are the work, and we are the future!


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