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Cannes Musings: “The scale of the festival amazed me on day one”

Gopa Kumar, Executive Vice-President, Isobar writes about his day one at Cannes, and how he is soaking in the experience as it is his first time at the festival

Gopa Kumar

So the much-awaited Cannes Lions have begun and I have landed straight from Delhi, after a kind of long flight to the Palais des Festivals. Have got my registrations done and now ready to start soaking in the experience which everyone talks about.

This is my first time at the Cannes and after having attended multiple advertising festivals, I am looking forward to what makes Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity the place where the best of minds in advertising gather and spend a week full of learning and networking.

The first impression when you get to the place is of the scale at which this festival is being organised – multiple venues, different tracks, beach houses, various other networking parties and lounges across the Croisette. The buzz is infectious and you can see the entire lane and streets of Cannes bustling with attendees. Hard to keep a track of sessions going across the venue!

Now back to the serious business on the key takeaway for me from sessions on Day 1.

The session by David Droga was an enlightening one to say the least. One of the remarks he made was, "How you carry yourself and lead is how you treat people who are junior than you," really stood out and also a fact that I truly believe in. His advice to the creative people on not to just go overboard and obsessed with hype was also true. Fame is good but with a balance. Also if your work is not moving people and making a difference, then we are failing as a community was my takeaway.

Another session which was entertaining was by Grey’s Global Creative Chairman Per Pedersen. The topic being “The Future belongs to the Rule Breakers”, he spoke on what’s wrong with our industry and creatives to an extent and his thoughts on if things are to change, it has to be done by breaking the rules and not get struck by processes. He went on to give his 10 Mantras for creating great agency culture, which in turn will bring back the lost glory to the profession. Some of his comments were interesting and very relevant like “Great work solves all problems, let absolutely nothing get in the way of that”. He also called out to creative leaders not to take a backseat and take active interest in leading and running the agency business.

On the Innovation stage, Isobar & YUM China presented a talk on how creativity is driving innovation and digital transformation for KFC for a new generation, from transforming the dining experience with an AI-enabled robot to gaming partnerships, which resulted in 3 mn KFC combo meal sales in nine days. It was a great learning.

There was a felicitation by IAA to celebrate the to-be-awarded Pandey brothers. Many from the Indian contingent were there to celebrate and congratulate them. A very proud moment for Indian Advertising to say the least!

As evening rolled by, I retired to the DAN beach house, met colleagues across DAN and caught up on happening across the network. And as the evening went by, the Opening day Party for the festival was on full swing with every one queuing up for a spot and a night full of partying by the beach side.  India also opened its tally on the award front by winning a few metals, including a Grand Prix for TBWA in Health. Great start for India on day one and here is hoping that there are substantial additions in the coming days of the festival.

In all a very action-packed day at Cannes on Day 1 and trying to make sense in the middle of chaos was my first impression of the festival. Looking forward to more enlightening sessions, learning on day two and for the entire week!

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