While eating duck breast with strawberries on a bed of bulgur wheat laced with raspberry jus I decided yesterday that Cannes is not kak. Yesterday was a particularly unkak day. Last night at the Outdoor, Mobile, Innovation and Media ceremony we won things, our country won things and, yes, Dumb Ways to Die won things, but you can’t have it all.
South Africa kicked some decent butt in outdoor when a happy pride of Silver and Bronze Lions lolloped over the horizon ( it is debatable whether Lions lollop but I am going to go with it ). The totally lekker Doom “Wall of Shoes” by TBWA / Hunt / Lascaris Joburg grabbed a Silver, which is good, because a laak it. Also on the scoreboard was Ogilvy Cape Town with two Silvers for Volkswagen. One for the Volkswagen Genuine Parts “Puzzles” Campaign and another for the really smart (are you allowed to say that if it’s your own work?) “Don’t text and drive” work.
Finally Y&R continue their happy week with some more metal for Landrover.
The Outdoor Grand Prix was one of my favourite pieces this year. The IBM “smart ideas for smarter cities” work by Ogilvy Paris is simple, smart and so beautifully on strat (yes, that is important to creative people) for IBM. I love the fact that it’s a fairly low-fi piece for a hi tech brand. I am also proud to say that the ECD of Ogilvy Paris is SA born Christopher Garbutt.
Mobile is always interesting. South Africa should be winning in mobile. Our mobile growth and penetration is huge, it’s one of the best ways to reach people we probably couldn’t talk to any other way, and yet, nothing, fokol. Not a single South African mobile winner. Instead of being “traditionally strong” in radio, we should be traditionally strong in mobile. It is arrogant and ignorant in the extreme that our mobile creativity is non-existent, we aren’t even trying. Come on everyone, you love your bloody iPhones so much, let’s do some things ( I realize that is one of the most pathetic and nonsensical motivational speeches of all time, apologies).
Some of the best work of the Festival was on show in the mobile category last night. Ogilvy Paris had a corker where they gave away free WiFi in exchange for online Scrabble points. The Score Cleaner Notes app will write sheet music for you when you hum into your phone. And please, please have a look at the Reborn App piece by Antwerp based Duval Guillaume Modem for Organ Donation. Pure genius. The clear and growing intersection of dev, creativity and tech innovation in mobile work is becoming more and more pronounced. I am sad to say we are way, way behind in SA.
The best idea of the Festival so far was from DDB Dm9 for Smart Textbooks. They recycled old sim cards and downloaded school textbooks onto them (the textbooks were proving too expensive to print). The sim cards were then handed out at schools and kids popped them into their phones. Voila. That’s what I love so much about Cannes, the ideas that prove that our industry truly can make a huge difference if we do what we do well. Technology is magnifying the power of creative thinking more than ever before Viva la revolución.
The innovation Lions were interesting, lot’s of software and apps and deep tech ideas. There was talk that it felt like the industry was stepping outside of its territory, which I think is the point really isn’t it? The Grand Prix went to Cinder from The Barbarian Group, who created a software development platform for creative coding. Another winner was the GetIn bank credit card from MasterCard, which reveals the balance of your card as a digital readout on the card itself. Not sure if that would be good idea in South Africa.
My absolute favourite talk so far has been “How not to be a douchebag in advertising” by the perfectly wonderful people from Mother New York. I can think of a few people back home who could have done with this information. The talk was really all about finding your happy place in advertising. They proceeded to skewer the big network structures and condemn us all to advertising purgatory. They don’t have account management at Mother. Now, while it has been tempting to occasionally exterminate errant account management people, I have never thought of leaving them out of the structure altogether. What would we charge our clients for if we didn’t have a brigade of client service people on their fee ? How would we make money? We would be forced to rely solely on our creative product for our income. Gasp, horror.
Then Huffington Post power woman and ultimate leaner-inner Arianna Huffington took the stage to talk about how to stay healthy and wise in the digital age. It was fascinating and inspiring and just made supreme sense. She talked about the value of sleep, something that felt very relevant to me having been kept awake last night by an air con unit that sounded like it was powering the Death Star. She recommended nap rooms and meditation rooms in agencies (these are common now in the US, but not in agencies). And, aptly, she made the observation that creative people are at their best when they are allowed to rejuvenate regularly. This is not a startling observation, but she did point out that agencies somehow derive a weird sense of bravado about pushing mega hours. I tweeted about how impressed I was with her talk. She replied within minutes, thanking me. That is seriously impressive. I do realize that her twitter handle may very well be managed by a call centre in Bangladesh, but I am still impressed.
The opening Gala followed the ceremony last night. This is kind of like a United Nations of men with beards and spectacles and women in strappy dresses talking in 150 languages about how shit the decisions of the various juries have been throughout the week. I did hear some interesting stuff though. Client attendance is through the roof this year, 40% of Cannes delegates are marketers this year. That is astounding.
In other news Ogilvy seem to be hurtling towards network of the year. Over 80 Lions and counting now, more than in the entire week last year. Although I must say that all this ranking and tabulating and counting and comparing the various distances and velocities of our own urine might be a little (just a little) over the top. Just saying. We are here to see the work. We are here to find out how to push our industry forward. We are here to seek out new ways to sell our clients’ stuff and make money for their employees and shareholders. Most of all we are here to discover how to change and adapt to and cope with the single biggest advance in the human condition since the bloody industrial revolution. So reducing it all to a conversation about who has the biggest willy is a bit sad and, dare I say, a bit male. Perhaps Arianna Huffington was right – the first women’s revolution was asserting their right to vote. The second has been establishing their place at the top of the men’s world – in business, in politics, in the arts and communication. The third is still to come, in which women express their dissatisfaction with this world of men and change it completely to make it one of their own design.
If this is the case then my wonderful, lovely wife is way ahead, certainly in my house anyway.