Gokul Krishnamoorthy
Jun 24, 2016

Cannes Lions 2016: Gokul's Diary (2): Take on the Lions at your own peril

Some things that are too big to fail. This festival is one of them.

Cannes Lions 2016: Gokul's Diary (2): Take on the Lions at your own peril
Christina Richardson admitted to being a tad tired when we met at a café opposite the Palais de Festivals on Wednesday, 22 June. If I had the Cannes mid-week fatigue of information and inspiration overload, she had stood all day at the Start-Up Village at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016, explaining what her company's tool Openr does. People were more than interested in knowing more about the Lions Innovation Start-Up Competition winner. 
If Richardson was tired, it didn't show. For the co-founder and CMO of the nine-member start-up, the latest recognition for Openr was the biggest yet. She was on a high.
“This is big,” she gushed, ceding that the team was yet to come to terms with the accolade. And the award, added the former brand marketer from London, had created a gear-shift moment for the 18-month-old company. The tool has been deployed by Samsung for its native campaign and by Expedia on social. It has been successful, but the recognition on the Cannes stage has opened up conversations at an unprecedented scale. Richardson doesn't know what this could lead to, but the team is open to possibilities. Such is the power of this global stage.
Enabling global connections
Whatever one's poison is, one ends up consuming too much of it in Cannes. It was time for another coffee at the start of the day, with an agency head from another part of the world. Foraying into the Indian market was the agenda for the discussion. The executive was speaking to those in several other markets too, to get a grasp of the ground realities in each. 
Every other conversation at every café on the Croisette would lead to some meaningful outcome. If not, it would at least lead to meaningful exchange. For those looking for a global connect in the space of advertising and media, there is no bigger platform. 
The shared passion for creativity, in whatever form it may be, can lead to bonds between complete strangers and shared experiences. “Whether it's getting inspired, getting hired or hooking up for the night, this is the place for it,” said one creative. I initially thought she was joking.
Another young man, a marketer, has decided to co-create a platform with a filmmaker and a creative from another part of the world. Their long-term ambition is to establish a connected ecosystem to address healthcare emergencies. They want it to be relevant, or replicable, across the world. 
Controversies galore
There is a lot of talk about some of the winning entries at the Cannes Lions as we approach the end of the festival, like there is every year.
One of the entries, done by AlmapBBDO for Bayer, is in the news for allegedly condoning filming of sexual activity without consent. 

As much as this is a cause for concern on that front, one wonders if this ad was used to sell any aspirin in the market in which it was released. You need to look really closely to see the logo, even. Perhaps it was on giant billboards across the country. 
Such clever creative executions have, for long, been celebrated at every creative festival there is. Unless scale becomes a parameter, it's perfectly permissible. And that, is sad. But true.
In the case of another entry, I Sea, by Grey for Good Singapore, festival organisers have stated that there will be no hasty decision on the entry, which has been billed by some as a fake. Grey has issued a statement that it stands by the entry, which has already won at multiple award shows across the world. 
But when it wins at the Cannes Lions, it becomes the topic of conversation.
I wonder why. 
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