There have been no dearth of sales pitches at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2013. But there have been enough 'wow' moments too, at the global Festival which celebrates creativity on an unparalleled scale.
Talking of scale, David Droga of Droga5 was seemingly in a corner, in a session on creativity at scale. Understandably, the session saw social media giant Facebook's reps on stage, alongside a senior editor from Fortune magazine.
It was amusing to see that on the global stage of advertising that celebrates creativity, a prominent ad lander was being pinned down on the phenomenon of celebrating work that is seen 'only at Cannes'. And perhaps 'only by the jury'.
Yes, he was asked about celebrating work that not many people have seen - a lot of the kind that gets celebrated on the Cannes stage. He was also asked why the ad industry wasn't coming up with ideas like Instagram.
Very often, the big ideas don't see the light of day, he said, after they are presented. He said something else too. Being an ideas business, the ad industry is conditioned to creating the next batch of ideas soon after they churn out one. Unlike the tech geniuses who get excited about 'the pot of gold' that take time digging, the ad industry gets excited about that 'One Gold Lion', he added. A lesson perhaps on incubating something to let it evolve - what Droga5 is doing, in the space of IPs.
India, mining, and what the world thinks
Another kind of 'gold digging' came in for criticism on this global stage, and at the receiving end was India - on the subject of displacing natives to allow corporates to mine the land they live on.
It's important to understand what people as powerful as the British lady with the first name Dame Vivienne Westwood, a celebrated fashion designer and social commentator, are saying about India. Because what they say not just reaches millions of followers, but they're sometimes saying it on a global platform like the Cannes stage.
While she didn't have to adhere to journalistic principles of 'balance' between viewpoints, the impression she left delegates in the packed auditorium with was this: 'Profit-seeking corporates want to dig up the ground beneath the feet of innocents, to mine for 'gold'. And the police are helping them, and calling the innocents 'terrorists' and acting against them - for the corporate lobby.'
While I'm all for freedom of expression, I doubt if one side of the story does justice when the audience has no reference to context. And while I'm all for rights of tribals, it did hurt to see India being perceived and portrayed as a government that is playing to corporate whims at the cost of its citizens.
Luckily as Partha Sinha (still carrying a BBH tag) clarified, a lot of things said on the Cannes stage are not always substantiated by data. The freedom is all-pervasive. So hopefully, the viewpoint was taken with a spoonful of salt.
Magic in the air
Magic is not about deceiving the eyes, but about deceiving the brain, said the noted cyber illusionist who enthralled the audience at the TED session presented by the Starcom MediaVest Group.
Psychology and technology make magic. And that magic is moving from secrecy to collaboration - as was evident from the fruits of the open source AR product he demonstrated. A lesson in collaboration for brands - to create the magic they need.
Also looking for magic was Ogilvy's Madhukar Sabnavis, a first-timer at the Festival. Felt good not to be the only one lost in and around the Palais.
Bobby's 'big boobs'-to-'stroller' logic
I was paired with Bobby Pawar (whose first day on the job at Publicis was yesterday), in an exercise to unleash our 'Inner Elvis' - courtesy Mediacom. One of us had to start narrating a 'positive' story. The other had to interrupt with random words, and the narrator had to continue from the word chosen.
I started off. The words that Bobby threw at me, were 'stroller', 'big boobs' (don't think two words were allowed, but I really didn't mind), 'fornication', and two more I can't recall. While we finished the exercise, I did joke about the choice of words later. He reasoned: 'Big boobs' and 'fornication' lead to 'stroller'.
End of day three. And the Festival is just warming up.