Ajay Gahlaut
Jun 25, 2020

Cannes Lions 2020: 'I'll be back'

Ajay Gahlaut bids farewell to the French Riviera and shares his learnings from this year's festival

The biggest stage in advertising
The biggest stage in advertising
The Cannes week has flashed by. And as usual has left us all wanting more. For who can resist this place. The impossible blue of both the Mediterranean and the sky, the fresh breeze from the mountains scented by the world famous perfumeries of Grasse, the genteel, well-heeled inhabitants and the famed French food and wine. For Cannes is one of those magical places which combines the joys of both mountain and ocean front life, situated as it is in the Alpes Maritime. 
Add to all that the pleasures of meeting one’s peers and colleagues from all over the globe, getting to see the world’s best work at close quarters and having the chance to rub shoulders with its creators make for a matchless experience. 
Cannes Lions 2020 was all of this and yet different. The coronavirus threat hung over the event like an invisible sword of Damocles. The ubiquitous masks, the frequent sanitising of hands and the social distancing reminded one constantly of the whole of mankind under siege. And yet.
And yet there was a heightened feeling of togetherness. Of the brotherhood of humans. Black, White or Asian we were all in this together. And we were going to beat it together. We are human beings. No virus can get the better of us. Because we can think. We have ideas. Which makes the Cannes Lions event so much more relevant this year. Because it celebrates ideas above all. And in doing so it highlights the very best of humanity. 
We have learnt a lot this year. Adversity is a great teacher. 
We have learnt that humans are essentially good. We have learnt that nature is very forgiving. And that if we give it a chance it renews itself and is prepared to once again share its bounty generously with all its inhabitants.  We have learnt that ideas and creativity are the strongest forces in the world. 
Cannes Lions 2020 brought one fact in clear focus for me. That I am happy and proud to belong to this crazy tribe of creative people. People who can laugh or cry un-self consciously. And who can make people laugh or cry. Who can influence multitudes to buy a toothpaste or eradicate a disease. They can write a song or right a wrong. People for whom impossible, truly, is nothing. 
As I board the flight back to India, standing in a socially distanced queue behind a large, muscular man I think about the week gone by and the time to come. 
And I’m reminded of the words of another large, muscular man.
‘I’ll be back.’ 
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