My Cannes 2018 journey could not have gotten off to a better start. After a lovely French breakfast of ham, slices of all kinds of cheese, a croissant and a lovely hot chocolate – I began my first day at the festival of creativity with a young delegates meet at the Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) beach-house on the Boulevard de la Croisette.
With our introductions being made an official company introduction to the festival being done – I set out to the Palais des Festivals equipped with a notebook, bubbling spirits and my colleagues from three different countries; to hear my very first speaker session at Cannes Lions. It was being delivered by none other than the creative legend and youngest recipient of the Lion of St. Mark award, David Droga.
While patiently waiting in a serpentine que stretching a few levels – one could sense the sheer popularity of the man by the magnitude of attendees who were combatting jet-lag, travel fatigue and possibly a hangover from a few early meet and greet sessions.
After a long wait and managing to grab a good view, the man himself appeared on stage after being introduced by Jose Papa, managing director, Cannes Lions.
Being one of the most awarded admen and Australia’s most celebrated advertising export, he opened the Cannes Lions 2018 festival with a wake-up call to creatives to urge them to recognise their own value and a reminder to the industry at large that integrity matters.
While he couldn’t help but take a few swipes at Sorrell and Publicis’ low key representation at the festival by saying, “A number of things have happened in 2018. The festival is smaller. You could say condensed and concentrated. The industry swirl is arguable bigger. Martin Sorrell is now an underdog. Whoever knew? Marcel finally launched. And all that AI and why they boycotted the festival -- but there are more Publicis people here and all their things are entered anyway.”
He left the audience moved by inspiring in their hearts the power of creatives and the tremendous impact their efforts have on bringing about behavioral change whilst building brands – through some anecdotal references.
In addressing industry concerns around data driven creativity and the changes in advertising, he says “Advertising Isn’t Going Away, Just Really Sh*tty Advertising Is Going Away”.
In winding up his keynote, by once again reminding the industry of the power of what they do, he mentions “Our job is to move people and do extraordinary things” and left the audience with one of his latest works for Christie’s Auction House to exemplify this (The Last da Vinci / Christie’s).
It was an absolutely surreal experience witnessing him connect with the 2500+ people who filled the Lumière Theatre of the Palais I – just to hear him share his nuggets of wisdom.
While I indeed thought it to be a challenge for the festival to have sessions to outdo this one – I was indeed proved wrong by witnessing some really inspiring sessions throughout the day.
Key highlights from some of the inspiring speaker sessions
Fernando Machado (Global CMO of Burger King) along with his agency partners Ricardo Casal (Associate Creative Director - DAVID Miami) and Juan Javier Peña (Associate Creative Director - DAVID Miami) decoded for the audience, how they turn popular moments in pop culture into breakthrough advertising “hacks” by incepting the mindset how creatives and media executionists should adopt a hackers mindset to truly disrupt the ecosystem while connecting with their audiences.
Dentsu Inc’s session on ‘Androids, AI, and the Future of Human Creativity’ covered the changing definitions of work and highlighting the future roles of agency’s and talent in an era driven by AI and machine intelligence by challenging the definition of Human Beings to be Animal + Machine and how technology augments the mission of our genes to adapt to change.
After a day of inspiring sessions and interacting with talent from around the world, it was only befitting to wind up Day 01 by catching some FIFA World Cup action by watching the England vs Tunisia game at the Dentsu Aegis Network Beach House with some pizza, fine company and a glass of Rosé.
Top 3 Sessions to Look forward to in Day 02:
“Cinema Steps Up to "Feed Our Future"”
Speakers: Sir John Hegarty (Founder -Creative), Terry Savage (Chairman – Cannes Lions), Corinne Woods (CMO - United Nations World Food Programme) and Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid
When: Tuesday 19, 10:00 - 10:45 (45min)
Where? Lumière Theatre, Palais I
“Badass Leaders – Akon”
Speakers: Akon (Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum selling artist) & JD Heyman (Deputy Editor - PEOPLE)
When: Tuesday 19, 15:00 - 16:00 (1h)
Where? Cannes Lions Beach
“Truth in an era of deception”
Speakers: Ruth Stubbs (Global President, iProspect) & Mark Thompson (CEO, NY Times)
When: Tuesday 19, 15:00 - 15:45 (45min)
Where? Dentsu Aegis Network Beach House
Top INs & OUTs at CannesLions 2018
Cabanas by Consulting Firms vs Publisher and Ad Tech Yachts
Spotting Publicis Employees vs Celebrity Spotting
Creativity vs Tech
Talking about GDPR vs Talking about viewability
Watching football vs Watching Speaker sessions
Tune in tomorrow for more on the Chatter on the Croisette!
(Abhinay Bhasin is Associate Director, Data Sciences at Dentsu Aegis Network, India. He is a recipient of a post graduation in Economics from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.)