Lessons from Cannes

Impossible not to write about Cannes here. A deliciously complex mix of ideas and emotions, exhilaration and exhaustion, nothing beats the Cannes Festival of Creativity for reminding you of all the really great things about our industry.

So many people, so many awards, so many speakers and seminars, so many parties. And in among it all are the marketers in whose name it all gets made, yet who still don't quite seem entirely comfortable there. "We're here to ideate," one American CMO told me. You have to roll with the bull in Cannes, but I snorted my rose.

Cannes is so big now that it's hard to unlock any clear narratives. You just have to be there and absorb. Smart, ambitious marketers don't go to Cannes to "ideate" (what does that mean?), they go to breathe the same Domaines Ott-fumed oxygen as the best creative thinkers in the business. They go to be infected and excited. If you go to Cannes and don't get excited, check your pulse - are you still with us?

So, some thoughts from the sun. You don't need a big budget to buy brilliant creativity, and you don't need a quirky content agency to create one of the catchiest songs/videos of the year; Melbourne Metro's "Dumb ways to die", from McCann Melbourne, was a clear festival favourite that had already charmed the world and saved lives.

Though far from the sexiest category (that tag still belongs to Film), the Creative Effectiveness Lions are surely emerging as the ones to win. John Lewis' CMO, Craig Inglis, did just that and sealed his reputation as one of the UK's smartest marketers.

Barely touched upon, but perhaps one of the most important issues simmering beneath the bonhomie: more and more marketers are introducing delayed payment terms for agencies, putting even greater strain on the creative resource that is transforming their brands. I know we're about championing marketers and marketing here, but this is such a short-sighted and debilitating move. Coca-Cola took to the Cannes platform to denounce the trend; I hope the marketers present were listening.

Finally, UK agencies did OK at Cannes, but not much more than that. With the link between creativity and effectiveness now established, that's a problem. And it's one for which marketers must take responsibility.



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