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Cannes Lions 2018

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Cannes Musings: Some inspiration and some perspiration

Gopa Kumar, Executive Vice-President, Isobar, on the last day of the festival writes about his takeaway from his debut appearance at Cannes which is a good dose of inspiration and a reflection on the kind of work being done and how to get things right or have a different perspective towards how to get work done and presented

Gopa Kumar

The long queues have reduced, the crowds at the Croisette have gone down considerably, The Cannes Lions 2018, Festival of Creativity, ended today.

This week, thousands of media and marketing executives, creative directors, and advertising salespeople gathered for the annual Cannes Lions advertising festival in the south of France. 

Walking around the Palais, one could feel the excitement levels going down, maybe because of the non-stop pace of this festival and by Friday, everyone is kind of exposed to an overdose of creative and advertising inspiration or maybe for once people were still figuring what was this festival all about and what does it stands for. I will come to my key takeaways in a bit.

Had decided to take it easy on the last day and just focus on key sessions and be out for the rest of the day.

The most-awaited session of the day was of Martin Sorell in conversation with Ken Auletta about his new book “Frenemies”.

While the initial conversation moved around the topic of his book and how he did research and perspective on how the industry is changing, Auletta slowly started asking some difficult and hard-hitting questions in a very simple and effective manner. “So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room,” Auletta said.

When asked why he left WPP if the allegations weren’t true, Sorrell said, “When you have leaks of that nature at the highest level of the company, it’s a very difficult situation. Relationships come under a lot of pressure under situations like that.” He was kind of uncomfortable but candid enough in most cases. He pointed out that things have changed over the last 18 months after the Cambridge Analytica case and he does not see Google and Facebook as Frenemies. And with the advent of Amazon, he thinks power balance will be restored.

Another session much awaited was the felicitation of the Pandey Brothers. It was definitely a proud moment for India and Indian advertising. Piyush and his brother, ad filmmaker Prasoon, were bestowed with the tallest honour in the advertising profession, the Lion of St. Mark award, for their outstanding contribution to the industry.

As far as the award tally goes, I guess we have ended up with a tally of 21, which is pale if you compare it with last year. Generally, one felt India’s presence bit subdued as I had written earlier as well.

My takeaway from my debut appearance at the festival is definitely a good dose of inspiration. The sessions across the week by industry best did leave me inspired and also reflect on the kind of work we are doing and how we can get things right or have a different perspective towards how we get out work done and presented. My observation has been spelt out in my earlier post as well but I guess this year, and this I overheard in the Palais only, people are attending sessions and are inside the theatre than outside networking at the beach front. If that’s the case, it definitely is a great thing.

The tone inside the varied sessions was definitely about craft, storytelling, being authentic and true to consumers and self. Storytelling in the age of technology.  VR and AR was the flavour of the season; the scale at which it is being executed, it’s truly amazing.

Seeing IBM and Accenture's huge billboards outside the Palais is also sign of times. Accenture Interactive winning a Grand Prix is also a sign that consultancy challenge is real and it’s coming fast at us.

The buzz words this year at the festival – transparency, authentic, real, duopoly, brand safety, AI.

So in the end for me, Cannes Lions 2018 helped me to be inspired. Think about the purpose that we are in this profession; what’s our calling?

I guess it is to solve business challenges in this ever-changing dynamic environment, we need to be ready for the change which is now upon us and embrace this play of tech, platform, creative, media , content and what not. When we start embracing this fully and with being true to oneself, only then we can set ourselves and the industry towards path of success.

Here is to more inspiration…

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