5 things I learnt at Cannes 2022

I won a free pass to Cannes this year, VIP, access all areas.  You can win one next year – just enter The Brief #2 – exercise some creativity for good, and, if you have the luck of the draw that I did, meet some friends for life and become part of the exclusive Cannes 1954 club.

Because I won a free pass I was particularly keen to make the most of it, and attended 20 sessions, took over 70 pages of notes (many of which were written in the dark of the theatres, and so may or may not be legible), and watched many many campaign entries.

Here’s 5 things that I learnt at Cannes this year.

#1 The Metaverse has power for good.

I’ve been quite open, but maybe a little skeptical, but have learnt to appreciate more possibilities.  RGA led a session where the possibility of the metaverse to allow people to be more themselves was brought to life: “From fixed identities to fluid”.  Their research shows that many current users feel that their avatar allows them to be more themselves than they can be in real life.   If this makes people happier, if you can try out different versions of yourself in a safe space and that helps your mental health and sense of Belonging, then let’s embrace it.  Its also important that we all get involved – this is a new world of media and you, readers, need to make sure it’s a good one.

Mark Curtis, head of innovation at Accenture Song, explained that the intimacy of the metaverse can deliver a stronger connection to the imagination about big issues.  He found that climate change impact had stronger meaning at Davos through this medium, and explained the huge impact on education via for instance the creation of a Favella in Roblox to explain different lived experiences to middle class kids.

#2 Be ambitious

The work that wins at Cannes in some respects simply blows your mind.  And so it should.  Some of the winning work has taught me that it is a trap to confine ambition to what seems possible.  The media Grand Prix Sheba Hope Reef campaign took the purpose behind using sustainable fish in the product and extended it into using resource to make the sea itself more sustainable. 

A small, pragmatic, and not quite against the law shift in one bank’s approach in Peru, has emancipated millions of women in this work for Mi Banco.

The mayor of London campaign firmly shifted the agenda from women keeping themselves safe to men taking action to behave better.

#3 Creativity feeds on speed, fun, punk energy and randomness.

David Guerrara showed us how important randomness is to creativity.  The movie star and ad maker Ryan Reynolds told us “the enemy of creativity is too much time and too much money”, and to look to social media creators who make brilliant things out of thin air.  Vicky Maguire raved about the punk energy she felt in Cannes this year: “we’re coming out fighting”.  I also loved Vicky’s 3 words to sum up the role of a CCO: “Generous, generous, generous”.

#4 Context is (once again) queen

Nancy Smith of Analytic Partners demonstrated that context is a multiplier on media effectiveness with her ROI Genome – great to see the science backing up instinct and experience on this.

#5 Allyship isn’t enough, be an accomplice

Shelly Zalis founder of FQ states: “Creativity starts with diversity”.  (This I already knew!).  Then Adrienne C. Smith told us that allies in the workplace are not enough.  You need accomplices – people who will support you and push for fairness and inclusion in every way there is, even if it means breaking some rules and some conventions (many of which need breaking).  Love the idea of this, adding it to our list of roles you need to show up for others in your career.  We’ve seen that diversity has not progressed fast enough.  Don’t just be an ally, become an accomplice. 

Finally – with the right stimulus – you never ever stop learning in our business. 

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