What would Don Draper think about the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity? He probably would have been on the main stage, speaking to a packed room about advertising’s power to make emotional connections, perhaps drawing from the Kodak carrousel and poignant family memories. And he definitely would have been seen at The Gutter Bar until the wee hours of the morning.
About 10,000 of the world’s most creative people in advertising, marketing and PR can relate to the intersection of inspirational content and great conversation: We are all packing our bags for this year’s festival, taking place June 17 to 24.
The Cannes Lions Festival was founded in 1954 by ad executives who believed that the 30-second film, the staple of advertising at the time, deserved the same recognition as feature films. Indeed, the festival’s roots are in storytelling and today’s multimedia and social platforms make storytelling all the more robust.
This year, ad agencies and their clients from 87 countries have submitted a record 34,301 entries in hopes of winning a Cannes Lions award, the most prestigious in the industry. For years, delegates have tried to predict the winners. Twenty-five years ago, Donald Gunn began Leo Burnett’s Cannes Predictions by curating and sharing ¾” film reels from around the world. Today, the agency’s digital assembly of contenders is on SlideShare. Meanwhile, Dominik Heinrich, a creative director at Agenta in Munich, is using Pinterest to predict this year’s winning campaigns, as Creativity reports.
Globally renown, the festival consistently attracts A-list speakers from outside the world of advertising. President Bill Clinton is speaking Thursday on how advertising can help build a better world. (Tom Scott from The Gates Foundation is discussing a similar topic on Monday and providing a behind-the-scenes look at the organization’s Grand Challenges Explorations program). Selena Gomez is also talking Thursday about how to reach people born between 1980 and 2000. (Hint: be participatory.) Meanwhile, Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker is tackling the democratization of content on Wednesday, along with Brian Message, co-manager of Radiohead and David Alberts, chief creative officer of MOFILM Social.
DiGennaro Communications will be well-represented in France next week as well. Several of our clients, industry friends and other organizations have seminars, workshops and events that I think will be of interest to a broad cross section of business readers. Check back here regularly and follow us on Twitter @digennaro for reports on the following:
Outside the conference hall, the creativity and storytelling will continue to heat up under a Mediterranean sun.
Throughout the event, the Cannes Lions organizers along with branding agencies The Brand Union and Lambie-Nairn, are hosting “Play, Make, Master” just outside the Palais des Festivals: Delegates can experiment with clay modeling, Lego construction and balloon art with help from experts; take daily classes; and record and share their designs in the Getty Images lounge. On Thursday, digital agency Organic, New York-based storytelling organization The Moth and Contagious magazine are hosting a StorySLAM during which people will vie for the title of “worst day in advertising” at the Google Creative Sandbox, a popular meeting place during the festival. With a dose of good humor, the hosts argue, “If you’ve made it to Cannes it’s likely [your really bad day] hasn’t kept you down.” Indeed.
Sally O’Dowd is a VP and head of the social media team at DiGennaro Communications, a firm specializing in corporate communications for ad agencies, media-buying concerns and entertainment companies. @digennaro @sallyodowd