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The cost of Cannes and Creativity

Farishte Irani, Group Head – Copy, Dentsu Creative India, shares her experience of attending Cannes Lions 2023 in person, the highlights of day 2 and everything that mesmerised her

Farishte Irani

Cannes Day 2 was, quite frankly, a glorious blur. I had the unique privilege of watching a fellow juror receive the news that he had won an unexpected Grand Prix – his face turned from shock, to realisation, to pure elation. I asked him if it was his first. It was his fourth. He was a (very young) Grand Prix veteran. His team however, wasn’t. The idea that won the Grand Prix came from two young creatives. Creatives who are being flown down as I write this to walk onto the stage and receive their first-ever Grand Prix.

“They’re possibly going to be Cannes jury presidents in the future. Now they have that dream. A dream of a Titanium, a being a jury president, making a difference. And that’s what matters.”

So safe to say that day 2 started well. And it went on well. The Palais kicked things off with a Kevin Hart talk. The room was of course, crowded, with a queue that extended past multiple staircases. But celebrations and owning what you do seemed to be the theme of the day. While Kevin Hart did share a fair few nugget of wisdom, my favourite part was the fact that he was so unapologetically proud of what he had achieved – “I am an icon.” Ahead of me, two Young Lions contestants promised each other that if they won, they would celebrate their achievements unapologetically. They’d celebrate without an iota of self-deprecation. Self-deprecation and self-doubt often seems to plague creatives, but I suppose that mind shift miracles happen at the Mecca of advertising.

My strategy for day 2 was – go where work (and lack of waiting) takes you. So, I ended up in the Glass Lions Live Presentations, where I watched young people of colour argue for the brilliant “Everything They Didn’t Tell You” by Area 23 (recent winner of the Health AOTY).

Leading the presentation wasn’t the client or a CCO – but a young black father and art director. Who occasionally stumbled, but did not let that deter him from giving amazing answers. As a copywriter I always thought I had to sound polished and rehearsed to even stand a chance at a Glass presentation. But there I was, blown away and touched by a creative who was there defending the work simply because it meant something to him. Authenticity, I was once again reminded, trumps all.

The musings can continue, but come 7 pm, creatives congregate in the theatre to celebrate the awarding of the best work there is. I quite frankly go there to watch the best work there is. Dentsu Creative’s “Everything Book” received a Bronze, and I felt a sense of pride for the people behind it. Like my fellow juror said, “Now they have that dream.” Sitting in India, thousands of miles away from the Cannes Lions red carpet, young creatives will now give themselves permission to dream of making it big at Cannes. Today was also the awarding of a brand new Cannes Lions category – Lions for Gaming. It was dominated by Clash of the Titans, a piece of work that tapped into the gaming mindset and fooled us all into thinking that it had been around for decades.

The best part of the awarding ceremony (apart from the actual work) I realised, was the fact that creatives connect on the work they love. A Bangladeshi juror happened to sit next to me. While we chatted about the work we loved, and what a unique privilege it was to be at Cannes, he said, “You know, I sold my property to be here. To put Bangladesh on the map.” And that’s when it struck me – the cost of Cannes, and of creativity is high. We pay with our self-doubt, our weekends, and our property. But once you’re at the Mecca of advertising, everything seems more than worth it.

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