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Cuckoos In The Den: A Disruptive Agency’s First Time at Cannes Lions



Founder and Strategy Director at Telegraph Hill Jack Simcock reflects on what he really learned from Cannes

Cuckoos In The Den: A Disruptive Agency’s First Time at Cannes Lions

It was our first time at The International Festival of Creativity. In the past few years we’ve been at MIPTV and MIPCOM. On the surface the three events are similar, but under the skin they are worlds apart – I found Lions thriving while MIPTV should be classed as endangered.

We evolved out of the TV industry, hence our previous visits to ‘TV Cannes’ and mix of brand and broadcast clients. However, we were slightly apprehensive prior to our arrival at the ad and media industry’s premier event. For a new but rapidly growing agency such as ours – was Cannes going to be relevant?

We thought Cannes might be full of pre-social 80s ad relics, getting wistful about ‘the good old days’, but found that there was a huge amount of value in being there. Cannes gave us something unique  in three particular, and very important ,areas: learning, positioning and networking.

Datasift’s CEO Nick Halstead “Social Data is the new Don Draper”


We learnt loads at Cannes by focusing our attention on the Innovations part of the festival, which centred on how to capitalise on the changing world we live in.

At Innovations, there was work that related to every part of our new agency model that fuses social data, creative content and targeted distribution.

Datasift’s CEO Nick Halstead was spot on for us by outlining how to leverage social data insights: ‘Social Data is the New Don Draper’. We discovered a vision for the future of storytelling when Scott Broock of Jaunt showed us the kit for shooting Virtual Reality, while CEO of Sixth Sense Amir Rubin told us that 100 million VR enabled mobiles will arrive in the next 5 years. Highly effective programmatic campaigns from the entertaining MediaMath guys and Aussie supermarket Coles were equally revealing

Even one of my sporting heroes David Coultard related Formula One performance data to winning in marketing. I loved it.

There was an atmosphere of confidence and excitement about the opportunities change creates. Cannes delivered on a real USP – we got to learn and test our proposition against our global competitors.  

F1 Legend David Coultard on data and performance


Learning how to express our proposition and then how to position it in the rapidly evolving market was the second reason we went. So watching how Unilever-backed start-ups and early stage businesses present their next game changing idea, provided us with valuable insights into how we can communicate our own vision.

To have the chance to hear so many potential competitors pitch themselves whilst also learning about the market in the next few years is something you just can’t get anywhere else, so Lions got another pat on the back for that. So much so, that my diary-devil partner and MD Garret Keogh slammed our positioning meeting in for 8.30am on Monday morning!

Telegraph Hill MD Garret Keogh, passionate about Seafood


Lastly, since we planned to cruise the croisette there was the obligatory shoptalk and card swapping to get done, but also real fun to be had. We talked VR and production with the aforementioned Scott Broock, as it as it turned out we were sat next to him as we chowed down on the epic fruits de mer at Astoux et Brun. We caught up with our friend Ben Marinic who’s one of those 50 Unilever backed start-ups and hung out with Garret’s mate Charly Leahy and his winning Lion for the Optus ad he did with Ricky Gervais (which we turned down working on the production side). Oh well, here’s to next year! 

Now, how the hell is an agency like us supposed to get home?

Jack Simcock is Founder and Strategy Director at Telegraph Hill

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