Plan. Craft. Live. The ultimate prediction of what you'll see at Cannes this year

"The new framework we need is one capable of embracing short cycles and producing intense and mercurial ideas that are lived rather than launched."

Frameworks matter. In a field of collective creativity like ours, they’re like souls that determine how we think, what are known for and, therefore, who we are. As an industry, in a time of dramatic shift like the one we live today, frameworks can help us all thrive or sink. That’s why I want to share mine. 

We all know the stories of the geniuses that came before us: they selected a strategy, came up with an idea, blew it up everywhere they needed to, then produced and launched it with the best partners they could afford. Plan, do, spread. That, roughly, was their framework. Well, it’s time to revise that. Not because none of it applies, but because some critical parts, based on the world our work fits in, requires a revision.

In a world where consumers aren’t willing to give us more than a glance but are also ready to stop everything because of what you’ve said, if only for a day, this plan, do, spread feels oddly distant and…disconnected. The new framework we need is one capable of embracing short cycles and producing intense and mercurial ideas that are lived rather than launched. 

So instead I prefer this: plan, craft, live. 

Plan, craft, live. Plan, craft, live. Think about what you need to do, produce it masterfully, bring it to the world and react in real time. Now you’re talking…and listening.

PLANNING includes all the thinking we do ahead: strategy, what we traditionally call creative and anything else the idea may require, even the media plan. Nowadays, it may often include some variation of contingency plans and PR elements, such as recruitment of influencers and channels mapping. Then we move forward.

CRAFTING makes the plan go wonderful and right. When I started in the ad business, that meant finding the greatest director we could afford, one we could brag about at dinner with our peers. Now, any bragging about who you have worked with seems so dated and blustery. Please don’t get me wrong--I love seeing strong ideas blossom in the hands of geniuses who will make them even better. But the stage of production today, and the aspirations of the new creative generation, allow for so much more. Go ahead and get that big name to work with you, but get your own hands dirty too.

LIVING, finally, is the biggest change. A client recently complained to me that the entire process of how agencies and clients collaborate is broken, because the months-long back and forth from brief to launch is completely detached from today’s reality. He needed his agency to live the brand together with his team. That said, he also wanted to make sure the creative output wouldn’t become some stream of consciousness devoid of critical thinking or a singular voice. In other words, he wanted the old AND the new. Which is usually the case, no? Learn from the past but always innovate.

Looking back, that simple framework allowed my agency to come up with some of our most famous work–and when we missed a step, we felt the ideas never fulfilled their potential. A lot of the most exciting work of the last few years also find balance on that triad. Nothing beats a Londoner. Believe in Something. Truth matters. Fearless girl. Blood normal. Whopper Detour. Beyond Money. Dumb Ways to Die. The Beauty Inside. The LEGO Movie… They all somehow follow that path and seriously embrace all three layers: They plan for depth, craft for excellence, and become alive once they reach the streets.

As all good frameworks, plan, craft, live is a simple way of looking at things, of looking FOR things. At Cannes, our Social and Influencer jury will search for depth and artistry, but given the nature of the beast, will likely be driven by the curiosity to witness how the third element, LIVE, will reshape everything we do. Other categories like Titanium and Innovation will probably be a bit more focused on the plan, while film craft, digital craft and even entertainment, will have to look more rigorously for great examples of craftsmanship. But make no mistake: no matter the inclination of each category, the big winners of the year, the ideas we will all talk about after the French party is over, will be the ones that thrive in all three elements. Great examples of plan, craft and live. 

It will be an exciting year. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen.

PJ Pereira is the creative chairman and co-founder of Pereira O’Dell. He is the Social + Influencer Jury Chair for the 2019 Cannes Lions Festival.

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