A Cannes 2019 reflection from Campaign's U.S. editor

Campaign global team
Campaign global team

What stood out the most at this year's International Festival of Creativity?

As I reflected the week on my nine-hour flight back to New York from Nice Airport - surrounded by drowsy ad execs and shiny Cannes Lions - I couldn’t help feeling inspired and even energized, (mentally, that is). 

The 2019 festival reminded me why I love this crazy, unpredictable, ever-evolving industry and all of its characters: The work. 

This year, Cannes did a fantastic job of getting back to creativity, which is frankly the most important part of this business and what drives results and attracts talent. 

While the Carlton Terrace seemed a little less rowdy than normal, which could be a sign of adland’s debaucherous side toning down a bit, the festival was filled with more marketers than the last couple years. AB-InBev brought more than 60 staffers - more than previous years - and same with General Mills, which had 20-plus people at the festival. 

Richard Oppy, global brands VP at AB InBev, told Campaign US that the increase in marketers shows that senior execs and CEOs of brands "are realizing that it’s the power of creativity that’s building brands and that creativity is cutting through and winning the attention war with consumers and it’s actually driving results."

The festival even attracted a few unexpected politicians, such as Ivan Duque, president of Colombia, who said, "Cannes is the right place to be if you are interested in creativity."

"When creative people meet, creative ideas always show up," he said.

Agencies and holding companies - WPP with its beach, for example - also put a bigger spotlight on the work this year, which was refreshing to see. And, unlike last year where purpose-driven pieces stole the show, a wide range of creative was honored throughout the week.

The festival wisely continued conversations around diversity and inclusion - and what better place to hold such important dialogues than with thousands of your peers from all around the world. 

Cannes’ festival organizers, however, have to make sure they’re walking the talk with their own messages throughout the week. The event was slammed when people saw Philip Morris International's involvement in the Cannes Lions' Good Track, particularly since the tobacco giant recently launched new cigarette brands and ad campaigns in Indonesia and Israel. Mishaps like this one turn attendees off and cast a negative light on an otherwise wonderful event. 

Overall, though, this year’s Cannes felt like it championed creativity more than it has in the recent past, and it left me feeling invigorated and excited for the rest of 2019. 

So, adland, strap in - we’re ready here at Campaign to see your best work in the next six months.

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