The 69th edition of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity kicked off with Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman, and Gary Kasparov, chess grandmaster, and political activist, who urges brands to act now and help Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
Calling this war the first major one in Europe since World War 2, Edelman lauded companies that have left Russia. He further stated that the decision to leave the country has also helped business results, as 40% of consumers have chosen to pick brands that have left the country.
“The brands being labelled ‘woke’ and accused of being that, have it wrong. What’s happening in Ukraine is incorrect and brands are expected to weigh in. Brands are trusted twice as more as compared to Governments and they need to act. We need to regain Ukraine, its territories, infrastructure, and its mental and physical health,” he added.
He urged that the communications industry can help in a few ways, which includes handing women's jobs, while men fight on the war front. He also suggested that they create cause-related marketing funds to help the country.
Kasparov, then took to the dais, 34 years after his last visit to the Palais. Back then, he was on stage to play a chess match against 10 different countries simultaneously.
While Kasparov wished he was at the festival to speak about chess, he wanted to further Edelman’s message of helping Ukraine and ending the ongoing war.
He said, “I have been opposing Vladimir Putin since 2001. It’s been more than 20 years now. I didn’t have any magic bowl to look into, but listening to him was enough to know that we were in danger. When I heard him speak to other leaders in 2007, I heard the language he used. When he attacked Georgia a year later, I knew he would deliver on all his promises,” said Kasparov, before speaking about the start of his political career.
“When I moved to politics, people told me it was a wrong move for me. They said chess was about Black and White, while politics was about being in the grey. When you look at what’s happening in Ukraine, it’s still all Black and White though. It’s pure evil,” he added.
He urged the whole world, including the communications industry, that there has to be a response to what Russia is doing.
“It’s not just a tragedy for Ukraine. This threatens the world we live in. It’s destruction. But, there’s a message of hope too. Many predicted that Ukraine wouldn't survive 96 hours. It’s been a lot more. When Putin attacked, he made a mistake and underestimated the will of the free people. The free people too underestimated Ukraine with their predictions, he said.”
He urged support for Ukraine, before stating that the only way the war could end, was if the country emerged victorious against Russia.
“It’s important that this campaign to regain Ukraine goes on. Don’t tell Ukraine to just end the war, help them win it.”
Kasparov ended his talk by urging the audience to remember two things:
1) The war is winnable.
2) When everything seems to be lost, the free world has the power to fight back.