Sambit Mohanty
Jun 21, 2016

Cannes Lions 2016: Sambit’s blog: The writing on the wall

The creative head of DDB Mudra North reflects on the significance of the festival, and learning from Anna Wintour’s talk

Cannes Lions 2016: Sambit’s blog: The writing on the wall
One of the first things I noticed on getting off the cab at Cannes, was a giant digital screen on the Palais de Festival that proclaimed ‘Thank You Creativity’. It may have seemed a tad obvious but the writing was on the wall, er, display. 
Human creativity is the fuel that powers the engines of business and growth for brands and there’s no shying away from its effectiveness. In an increasingly cluttered world, that creativity is becoming even more important not only to engage people, but even to be seen. It represents the last true competitive advantage for brands and agencies making it a core requirement for every piece of marketing communication. No wonder Cannes Lions will always be an event where creativity is king – and that’s exactly what its coveted leonine statuettes symbolise.
But allow me to dispel the notion that only ‘creative people’ from ‘ad agencies’ swear by this notoriously intangible asset. One of the sessions I enjoyed immensely was a talk by Anna Wintour (artistic director, Conde Nast) – also a long-time editor of Vogue and the personality on whom the film The Devil Wears Prada is based. 
Among the key topics she touched upon was the notion of what it means to be creative – essentially ‘thinking about the lives of our audience and how to connect with them better.’ To be creative is also to think of yourself as ‘a first responder to other people’s interesting ideas.’ And as per Anna, there were four lessons for creativity to flourish:
  1. Aim higher. Do it better than it’s been done before and watch where that leads. The Apple Watch designed by Jonathan Ive and the film Boyhood by Richard Linklater are instances where the desire to deliver a higher-order experience have paid off handsomely.
  2. Dare to be different. A creative philosophy that’s almost a cliché but something that’ll always be relevant. As long as our work is personable and new, it’ll be talked of. 
  3. Use all your gold. Give it everything you have. Never, ever, ever, attempt anything half-heartedly.
  4. Make interesting friends. How interesting our life is, depends upon who we surround ourselves with….for that in turn impacts the work we create. Anna cited Brandon Stanton (creator of the photoblog ‘Humans of New York’) among her many interesting friends, who constantly inspire and amaze her. 
In today’s multiplatform hyperkinetic world, harnessing the force of creativity is a key challenge that advertisers and marketers face. In a place like Cannes, this force is all-pervasive – from the incredible work on display to the luminaries who share their stories on stage to the amazing minds you meet from around the globe.  
“Creativity is incredibly difficult to define,” says David Lubars, “but incredibly easy to identify.” And identifying it is where Cannes really scores. 
(Views expressed are personal.)
Campaign India

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