Exactly what does Cannes celebrate?

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But there’s too many people in our industry spending too much time worrying about appearing unique, innovative, and disruptive to their peers. Instead of focussing on making things that are actually great, and might one day be seen by a actual real people.”

from our own Iain Tait.

I’ve never met anyone who has seen a vending machine reward them for laughing, I’ve never walked through a door marked ugly, got a Coke from a drone, or been offered a crisp packet with my face on. I’ve never had a friend share their personalised film, I’ve not seen outdoor ads that are also street furniture or had an ATM give me a funny receipt. I’ve not received a magazine with a near field communication thing and I’ve not had a virtual reality experience outside advertising conferences. I’ve not once seen a member of the public 3D print anything. The one thing that binds together the more than 200 Cannes winners I’ve seen, is that they are ads only advertising people have a good chance of seeing. I’m not sure that’s what the industry should be about.”

from Tom Goodwin at Havas Media.

I wonder if it isn’t time to put Cannes in its place — as a source of inspiration and provocation, rather than a celebration of the best work the industry has done for clients in the year gone by. I’d liken it to a fashion show.  No normal people buy the haute couture designs but they nonetheless set trends and influence high street fashion. Isn’t it best to see the Cannes winners in the same light? To set them on a pedestal and challenge the industry to do more work like this, or which takes inspiration from this, with mainstream budgets in the real world. This would be a useful filter for judges too — and might lead to the weeding out of “clever-clever” ideas that aren’t scalable.”

from John Owen at Dare.

In other words, it’s a celebration of innovation in creativity, not (with the notable exception of the Effectiveness Lions) brand building.

There is a role for recognising and celebrating that.

But we forget the distinction at our peril.




  1. koenyboomboom (@koenieboomboom)

    I couldn’t agree more! It has been going on for a while now but Cannes really highlighted the problem: The industry is talking about ‘tech, data and creativity’ but hasn’t worked out yet how these 3 elements can create powerful connections that really touch people’s hearts at scale. And let’s be honest, that will take time.
    But instead of rewarding the few campaigns that actually managed to deliver on this, the Cannes Lions award every possible discipline in the industry. So it celebrates small ideas with limited scale or impact. While it should be encouraging big campaigns that involve many disciplines which together create big consumer change. Because it is these campaigns that make the industry great and create the admiration from the outside world.
    Less winners, more admiration and a greater striving for real powerful work.

  2. Thomas Goodwin

    I think Cannes is award for Marketing Marketing.
    It’s rarely about the idea, it’s about the quality of case study creation, lobbying, merchandising and the brand value of the agency behind it all.
    Do we really think made with iPhone if done by Samsung and Cheil would have won?

  3. Conductor71

    I haven’t walked through the door marked ugly either (except in the metaphorical sense). But 6 million people watched someone else doing it. Isn’t that the point?

    • Santana

      how many acted on it?
      isn’t that THE point?
      according to case study film it is.

      and what has putting a sign above the door got anything to do with “innovation in creativity”?
      I see signs above the door all my life.

  4. Santana

    “a celebration of innovation in creativity”

    in this case I prefer Nobel prize (just one example).
    at least there’s some real work behind them.

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