CANNES — The Cannes festival is a special place. Not for the awards, the unbeatable weather or the luxurious amenities — what makes it special is the people. Over the past three days I’ve had so many wonderful conversations with people from around the world. I’ve spoken about the creative process of shoe making with a Russian, the value of good print ads with some Brits, and the best way to make Sangria with a Spaniard. There quite literally isn’t any other gathering of so many wonderful creative and passionate people in the world.
Monday night saw the first round of Cannes Lions given out in the Direct, Mobile, Press, and Promo & Activation categories. All the work was amazing — problems and perceptions surrounding various international brands were solved in clever and unexpected ways.
As a first-timer to Cannes, I was enamored with the whole event itself, in addition to the fantastic work. The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès was immaculately decked out for the thousands in attendance — the stage was a majestic mix of beautiful design with incredibly elaborate projection-mapped screens. A total of 117 Lions were given out to the field of more than 3,100 entries submitted in those categories.
The Grand Prix Lions were awarded to some outstanding work:
Promo & Activation went to Grey London for Volvo UK, "Lifepaint." Jury President Matt Eastwood, Worldwide CCO of J. Walter Thompson, said the the work had not only raised the bar creatively, but also made a positive contribution to humanity.
The Direct Lions saw Volvo pick up a second Grand Prix via Grey New York for "Interception." Jury President Judy John, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Canada, called the scrappily campaign that hijacked competitors Super Bowl spots work "smart, strategic, creative and truly real time."
In Mobile, Google dazzled the judges with its Google Cardboard submission to win the Grand Prix. Jury President Joanna Monteiro, VP/Creative Director, FCB Brazil, noted that it promotes virtual reality unlike anything else. "The jury believed that this is a game-changer since it democratizes VR. Cardboard costs about $20 and will allow brands to engage many more consumers, offering them a different level of experience."
Finally, in Press, a campaign for the City of Buenos Aires by The Community (previously La Communidad) Miami, triumphed with their submissions for the City of Buenos Aires titled "Dog," "Baby," Squirrel" and "Moths."
At the post-award show gala I met the aforementioned Russian shoe maker. She was in her early 60s and had retired from the ad world in the late 1990s to pursue a long held passion for making shoes. A well-traveled, well-spoken and intelligent woman, I heard about her many "Mad Woman" years on Madison Avenue in various New York City agencies. She asked about me; I told her about my position at 360i as an innovation strategist, my background from VCU Brandcenter’s Creative Technology track, and about my winning entry to Campaign’s Fearless Thinker contest.
Then, she surprised me — "I used to be inspired by paintings, theater, sculpture and poetry. Today, what inspires me more than anything is technology," she said with a light Russian accent. Her thought was reinforced by the earlier awards ceremony; she told me she’s continually amazed by what is possible and being done with technology in the ad world. "The future of creativity needs you," she explained with tremendous vigor, "technology is more important to advertising than anything else today."
Later that night, a bit tipsy on rosé as I walked back to my hotel in the hills of Cannes, I couldn’t help but smile. Never in my life would I have expected to have had such a conversation. It was empowering and exciting. It was illuminating and insightful. Most of all, it was eye-opening. Let this be a call to arms for all technologists out there: don’t fear the ad world — the future of creativity needs you.
Fitz Maro is innovation strategist with 360i and winner of Campaign US’ "Fearless Thinker" contest.