After coming home from Cannes, I am filled with bittersweet emotion; a mixture of intense inspiration blended with mild desperation after leaving such a magical place. I’ve experienced Cannes Lions, now what am I supposed to do? Unlike many of the other festival attendees, I’m not a CEO or a Senior Director, my resume is short and I’m not yet a key decision maker. I’m a Young Lion, a twenty-something, a hungry and passionate millennial.
I look back to Thursday afternoon, the sun was hot on the terrace of the Palais, pushing delegates to shaded areas under umbrellas as we patiently waited for the next talk to begin. Myself and two new “cannections” (clever eh?) were commenting on the beautiful view we had of Promenade de la Croisette from the rooftop.
As one could expect when attending a creativity festival, our conversation coursed down an imaginative road to the Mantis Shrimp
, which is a creature capable of seeing colours that are unknown to the human eye. This small crustacean’s eyes have sixteen colour receptive cones compared to our own three, meaning that they see much more of this world than we are able to.
We pondered how different our lives would be if we, too, could have a heightened visual experience. Which led to us asking if we would physically replace one of our own eyes with the eye of the insect. It was a silly question and sparked creative follow ups and conditions such as: Will my spouse still find me attractive? And, could I be considered a superhero? We were eager to discuss how the new visual perspective could shift art or culture. We wondered how it could influence our understanding of the world.
In hindsight, this conversation parallels one of my key takeaways from the Cannes Lions Festival: Perspective is a core pillar of constructing reality and empathy; it is a global driving force.
My moments of inspiration were all conceived from looking at things in a new way, being it literal (experiencing Samsung’s virtual reality capabilities) or figurative (looking at the work on my own vs. looking at the work with an industry vet). The world became more colourful as my perspective opened up. Was I, a young lion, becoming the Mantis Shrimp?
In a partnership with Samsung, Viceland is shifting perspective by creating, “Beyond the Frame” which is a documentary series created with virtual reality that allows the viewer to be, as Chris Milk explains “present in that world instead of watching it from afar.” As a “new medium” virtual reality goes beyond the rectangular box we are used to viewing content in and gathering information on by allowing an immersive experience that demands your complete attention. Viewers will be able to experience living in a third world country or being on the front lines of a social protest. It takes much of what we experience in an impersonal box, out of it and into an intimate setting.
Karen Strauss of Ketchum alludes to this box in a different way when she discusses creative briefs targeting millennials as “some monolithic block of human beings who all share similar thoughts and beliefs.” With the abundance of targeting research available to us today this perspective no longer works for marketing. An age-agnostic approach is proposed where we focus on shared passions which remove the constraints of a life stage. The perspective is shifted.
Before the festival I was fighting a personal perspective as I came home from work each night with the question, “what did I contribute to the world today?” burning in my mind. The answer was often unsatisfying. The shared attitude of many junior level employees is that our work is meaningless. “We aren’t saving lives,” is the saying used when the occasional mistake is made.
But the thing is - we could be.
I had a career changing moment when I walked through the basement of the Palais and strolled through the shortlisted work. For almost two hours I fought back tears as I looked at the different campaigns that focused on making the world a better place.
One of this years’ media jurors commented that there was a large focus on cause marketing, meaning global brands and agency partners are realising the importance of standing up for a cause that needs a voice.
When you walk by campaign after campaign supporting sustainability, equality, diversity, organ donations, etc. it is an eye-opening reminder that there is a reason for our job. There is no denying that advertising was created to sell stuff, but it has evolved into something much greater.
We have the power to change what people see and talk about on a global scale. That is why what we do matters. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated on the stage at Cannes that, “all of you have tremendous power to shape opinions, you are master storytellers and I want you all to create the biggest campaign for humanity.”
Our world’s leaders are demanding
that we take responsibility of our platforms.
Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever states: “We can no longer have marketers in one corner trying to sell more stuff and a sustainability department in another corner trying to save the planet. We need to creatively develop new, transformational business models that enable us to build a better future through sustainable brands with a strong purpose.”
The world needs us. As advertisers we have an influence on the global conversation. It is our responsibility to understand the impact of that truth. We can and do save lives. This was something I never fully realised and I’m unsure if others can understand it without seeing it themselves.
What attending the Cannes Lions Festival gave me was a new perspective on not only my career, but also the future of our world. I may not be a leader in our industry today, but that doesn’t mean I do not have a voice. I’ve traded one of my eyes for the vision of the Mantis Shrimp. My purpose is to colour our world in shades not yet seen before.
Young talent needs to understand their role in making this world a better place. We are vital to the changing landscape which goes far beyond the spreadsheets we are often stuck in.
Thank you, MEC, for making my new perspective possible.