June 25th, 2014

The prestigious Cannes Lion is the ultimate award for any advertising creative, striving throughout their careers to create the one entry that will bring the prestige and recognition associated with the accolade. In addition to the awards, the festival celebrates creative communication across advertising, entertainment, art and technology with seminars throughout the week featuring the brightest minds across industries. We were lucky enough to attend many of the seminars and put together a collection of some of the most inspiring, innovative and buzzed about events of the week.

What’s Great, What’s Not, What’s Next? With BBH Founder Sir John Hegarty and Droga5’s David Droga

This session brought together two types of industry legends: the old-school creative and the new-school innovator. Despite their variation in age and tenure, both men seemed to share a genuine passion for creating [good] advertising that evokes an honest, emotional connection with audiences. 

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The panel began with a consensus that the impact and creativity of global advertising is in a current state of decline with Hegarty calling out global advertising's inability to touch people and connect with them and their culture. David Droga added, “The vanilla of global is dangerous, mediocrity rules, right, but the stuff that hits that emotional core, that’s what translates across boundaries. So I’m obsessed with just trying to keep it real.”

The industry legends also discussed the importance of honesty and connecting with audiences, pointing out that we’re one of the few industries where technologies have been created to avoid our content. Hegarty shared his longtime creative philosophy based on honesty: "The thing I wasn't interested in doing was creating advertising that tripped people up …There's a lot of talk today about how we can influence people on Facebook or we can put messages into Twitter. Personally—and I don't give a shit if you agree or disagree—I don't like that. I think there's an honesty in our creativity that says here's a great idea, and inspires people to follow it."

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Droga also shared a teaser for the upcoming #ifwewon campaign for Newcastle starring Stephen Merchant as an example of advertising that starts a conversation with the audience. The campaign also serves as an example of advertising that actually appeals to the audience, summarizing the approach with the simple statement: "We are good when our peers think we're great. We are great when the world thinks we're good."

"We are good when our peers think we're great. We are great when the world thinks we're good." - David Droga

Hegarty closed the seminar with a call to honesty within the industry and among colleagues: "The thing we talk about at BBH is just trying to say to each other, Please tell the truth. Please be true to each other. If an idea's not great, we've got to admit to it. And through that, we might go on to create something great. So just talk the truth to each other."

Building a Billion Dollar Brand: With R/GA & Beats by Dre

Fresh off its $3 billion acquisition by Apple, Beats by Dre’s EVP of Global Marketing Omar Johnson joined R/GA’s James Temple and Bob Greenburg onstage to discuss the brand’s core pillars of truth, fearlessness and culture, and their unique agency-client relationship.

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Omar Johnson shared the brand’s two main pillars of truth and fearlessness, and discussed how they shaped the brand’s identity and approach to all aspects of marketing: “Truth is the foundation of our brand – from all we do across sports, headphones and music – it is all based on truth. The difference between us and other brands is we have a relentless passion to tell truth even if unsavoury or uncomfortable for people who don’t want to hear it – this brand lives it – we want to be known for being fearless.”

“Whatever the problems is, the TRUTH ends up being the answer” - Omar Johnson

The third core brand pillar, culture, focuses on how the product plays a part in music, sports, fashion and art. Johnson confirmed that the brand’s dedication to ‘truth’ extended into its culturally relevant content, refuting rumors that the brand pays for its talent endorsements. He did acknowledge select brand partners but pointed out that many endorsements were "an authentic part of the pre-game wardrobe.” Johnson shared: “We don’t do crazy metaphorical things that seduce, we look for simple truths and product truths.”

The brand also takes a real-time approach to culture: "If we're creating culture, it doesn't stand still. We focus on behaviors because we’re trying to inspire a new behavior or amplify one that's just getting going. A whole lot of our work is identifying cultures, moments and listening to what people are saying.”

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The brand’s “hustle” also extends to its relationship with R/GA, creating a modern “always on” agency/client relationship. This "fuck briefs" approach helped to create Beats’ “Hear What You Want” campaign which used real stories from athletes sharing their choice to wear Beats headphones in their pre-game warm ups.

On the brand's approach to important cultural topics, Johnson stressed that it didn't want to become too heavily involved in larger social issues but instead uses them for inspiration. For an issue like racism within sports, Beats demonstrates the true reason why athletes use its headphones - so they can hear what they choose.

Technology, Culture and Consumer Adoption: With Translation, Ben Horowitz and Kanye West

Translation hosted the panel “Technology, Culture, and Consumer Adoption: Learning to Read the Cultural Landscape" featuring CEO/Founder Steve Stoute, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz and a late-addition celebrity guest, hiphop star/fashion designer/new-Kardashian Kanye West.

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Celebrity appearances at Cannes Lions often help to generate excitement and discussion around seminars and like most Kanye West-related news, his appearance generated more interest and "buzz" than the average panel. While Kanye has been burned in the media by past remarks, the artist didn’t shy away from his usual bold statements on the state of culture, design, technology, and of course, his recent wedding.

Pointing to Steve Jobs as his biggest influence, he shared his allegiance with Apple – and default dislike of Samsung. West did express respect for Samsung's decision to work with Jay Z because of the deal's resulting cultural credibility for the brand and called out Apple’s acquisition of Beats as the brands attempt to re-connect with culture post-Jobs death.

West also shared his agenda to make the world a prettier place, through elevated taste: "I dream to help raise the palate and raise the taste level of a generation, and also be involved with the production and distribution and advertising of that thing everyone's begging for."

The was also a call to save the world from ugly design. Pointing to the generation's current addiction to staring at screens, West made a call for industry creatives to clean up the poorly designed platforms tarnishing the aesthetic of the internet: "Right here, in Cannes, right now, we have enough people with the sensibilities and connections to completely make that a more beautiful place. That is our future. People ask, Where's our future? Where's our flying cars? That is the world that's floating above us right now. And we can make that beautiful with the people in Cannes right now."

But the biggest take-away from the sound-bite friendly star was not his 4-day dedication to creating the perfect wedding photo for Kim’s Instagram (and elevating the palette of the masses along with becoming the most liked photo on the platform with 2.3+ million likes) but instead it was his many motivational words for fellow creatives: “You have to take the lashes of people not understanding. What we are, are the creatives with teeth. We create things that are not just for our self-being. I get bashed so much but I create so much.”

See the whole conversation on Translation’s YouTube:

Saatchi & Saatchi: New Directors Showcase

The popular event has increasingly become one of the highlights of the festival thanks to a history of exciting live theatrical performances and its reputation for unearthing directing talent of the future including iconic directors like Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, and David LaChapelle.

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Now in its 24th year, the event took a new approach to the theatrical experience by instead inviting the audience to participate in a wearable tech-driven experience supporting the event's theme. ‘Feel the Reel’ created a live data visualization of the audience’s emotional reaction to the reel – or a literal tech-enabled translation of “wearing your heart on your sleeve.”

Saatchi & Saatchi creative team Linda Weitgasser and Alex Sattlecker masterminded the concept using XOX wristbands that measured emotional responses and transmitted data live to create real-time data visualizations, with a different style of data-viz for each director’s film.

The Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide Creative Board made a final selection of films for the reel based on well executed ideas. The final reel includes 19 films by 18 directors with an eclectic mix of commercials, shorts, branded films and music videos from eight countries. Watch all the films here.

Additional Cannes Lions Highlights:

Tapping into our culture's growing passion for all thing tech and science, the festival also featured presentations from leading minds and viral sensations including physicist/'Cosmos' star Neil deGrasse Tyson for Ogilvy & Mather's Inspire lecture and Jason Silva for PHD's Mind Trip. Select additional seminars can also be viewed in their entirety on the official Cannes Lions YouTube.

The annual YDAs celebrated the best young directors from around the globe during an awards ceremony that began with a visually dynamic opening title sequence created by Mill+ exploring a young director's vision and unique way of seeing things.

The Drones invaded Cannes thanks to Twitter's launch of @Dronie.

The Fireflies completed their epic 8 day, 1,000+ km journey across the Alps into Cannes mid-week.