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Cannes Lions 2017 - Speaker Highlights

Our pick of the best talks of the week

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE

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Cannes Lions 2017 logo

There was a strange feeling in the air at Cannes this year. A certain reluctance to commit; a glance over a shoulder to see if anyone would follow; a perpetual feeling of change, whether for the better or worse. Cannes Lions is a celebration of creativity, a rosé fuelled networking session that brings together some of the most brilliant and varied minds in lively discussion and fierce debate.

The creativity was there in the brilliant work that channelled the power of data, the simplicity of print and the complexity of social. Fearless Girl came out on top with four Grand Prixs, sparking up a debate over whether advertising should have, or needs to have, a higher purpose; Meet Graham’s creative use of data highlighted road safety in a unique and thought-provoking light; and Twitter’s powerful, unbranded hashtag, adorned the more poignant images of the last year, a reminder that they are the brand who first helped us to collect conversations.

Diversity, or lack thereof, was at the heart of every talk and at the forefront of every brand’s mind. Talks about gender equality, racial representation and LGBT rights dominated the week’s schedule. YouTube threw a party celebrating Pride and Airbnb’s Jonathan Mildenhall launched his initiative to hire more diverse employees. He invited any person who saw themselves as part of a minority group – gender, race or sexuality - to come forward and be interviewed by him during the festival. The talk was there. The question is, will the action follow? 

Cannes is about celebrating the people, and the campaigns, that rock the boat. The ones who were daring enough to take a leap of faith, and for it to pay off. More often than not, it doesn’t, and often won’t, work. But perseverance is what prevails. It is perseverance that we should harness. As Dame Helen Mirren so pithily put it: “If you don't win this year, take that as a moment of fuck them, fuck that. And then come back next year.”

Throughout the week we saw some inspiring speakers, from Sheryl Sandberg to Sir Ian McKellen, here is our pick of the best.

Havas Cafe - Fake News

WITH David Bond, Media Correspondent, Financial Times - Jim Egan, CEO, BBC Global News - Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director, The Sunday Times & Editor, Sunday Times Magazine - Moderated by Dominique Delport, Global MD & Chief Client Officer, Havas Group

The panel of media giants addressed the ongoing problem of fake news, what it actually entails and who’s affected by it.

  • People are using print to verify what they read online.
  • The media has a responsibility to educate the younger generations and encourage them to read around the story.
  • The speed of social media has affected the quality of the reporting – it has become a rush to publish first.
  • BUT young people are more engaged, more interested than ever – there is now something worth fighting for.
L’Oréal All Worth It
L’Oréal - All Worth It

All Worth It: L'Oréal & Dame Helen Mirren Redefine Diversity

WITH Dame Helen Mirren, Actor – Adrien Koskas, General Manager, L’Oréal Paris UK - Moderated by Suzanne Powers, Global Chief Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup

The destructive nature of self-doubt is at its height when you are a young person. L’Oréal and Dame Helen Mirren launched the All Worth It campaign to give young people the help they need to get through that difficult phase in their life.

  • Such a sophisticated world but self-doubt is more prevalent than ever before.
  • Diversity isn’t a trend, it’s a value, as L’Oreal’s GM pointed out. Essential that brands channel diversity for the right reasons and lead by example.
  • Creative people need self-doubt to step into the unknown.
  • Powerful campaigns can change the world but they’re not enough. You need to ask how you’re going to make a difference.

Building Community through Creativity on Mobile

WITH Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook - Jonathan Mildenhall, Chief Marketing Officer, Airbnb -  Colleen DeCourcy, Global Chief Creative Officer, Wieden + Kennedy

Both Facebook and Airbnb’s missions are to connect people and bring the world closer together. The idea of belonging is often seen as more important than happiness. People like to feel part of a community because it negates the feeling of isolation. Mobile can connect us to more people more of the time.

  • Mobile allows real world experiences to be shared simultaneously.
  • Brands need to lean into what their communities are creating then put the spend behind creating something similar. User generated content can engage up to 6 times more than ads.
  • What’s important is to realise that the brand narrative doesn’t need to be perfect – the imperfect can be the most exciting part.
Seeing is Believing - Getty Images
Seeing is Believing - Getty Images

Seeing is Believing: The Power of Re-picturing Stereotypes

WITH Lena Waithe, Writer & Actress – Piera Gelardi, Co-founder & ECD, Refinery 29 – Campbell Addy, Photographer – Braden Summers, Photographer – Pam Grossman, Director Visual Trends, Getty Images

Creative industries such as advertising have the ability and responsibility to represent diverse audiences, to include every voice in the mix. It’s important to recognise that people should feel like they are part of the story, rather than just a visitor or guest at the party.

  • Pictures have the power to move the world -  important to portray the reality of the world through your imagery.
  • Businesses often ignore the invisible majority – when you’re not seen, you think you’re not valued.
  • It is important to make society feel uncomfortable – that is how you will bring about a change.
Christine Lagarde Cannes 2017
Christine Lagarde - Can Creativity Change the World?

Can creativity change the world?

WITH Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF – Maurice Levy, Chairman & CEO, Publicis Groupe

Some professions require you to reign in creativity and operate regimentally within a particular field. But creativity is in everything we do.

  • Creativity is the ability to transgress, digress and propose an alternative.
  • We need to get to the root of issues such as gender equality and climate change, and invent solutions that will deal with the problem. That process of invention needs creativity.
  • It is also essential to measure all the way up. You need to disaggregate data when looking at facts and figures of gender equality. You can’t and shouldn’t just look at it generally, but rather look at the data on every level.

The Lion of St Mark Interview: David Droga

WITH David Droga, Founder & Creative Chairman, Droga5 – Philip Thomas, CEO, Ascential Events

The fundamental message was that you never stop learning, and nor should you want to. We all need to stay curious and take risks. That’s when coming from a smaller market can help because it can mean you are willing to try out things that a larger company might feel is too risky.

  • The size of the idea is more important than the size of the budget – if someone tells me the right idea is to blow up the moon, then I’ll try and blow up the moon.
  • Ideas transcend countries and languages – essential to remember that and to learn from different working environments, cultures and people.
  • If I was a client I wouldn't want to buy something just because it's creative. They should buy something because it's right and good for their business. Creativity is at the heart of campaigns, but it is vital to stick to the brand in question.
  • The bottom line is advertising is fun and silly and outrageous. But it's also important, constructive and necessary.

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Community Diversity Purpose