Industry, People, Work

5 lessons from Cannes


Our very own Uma ventured to the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Here are a few things she learnt.

(If you’re a goldfish, you can just read the headlines)

1. Humans have shorter attention spans than a goldfish which means experiences need to be snackable and interconnected

According to a recent study from Microsoft, humans now have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. A goldfish has  9 sec, and thanks to technology, humans are at 8 sec. The founders of Tinder and Snapchat acknowledged that this need for instant gratification, along with the explosion of mobile and social, has been key to their success.

This short attention span also means that humans need brand stories they can relate to across channel. Since the intro of multi-screening, ad awareness has dropped by 58% so start-ups developing tech to combat this. WYWY have developed digital and TV synching tech that creates a real-time brand experiences from viewing to conversion. Nissan used this tech for the launch of the new Pulsar across Europe and doubled brand awareness.

2. Strategy isn’t about revelation, but micro facts and observations

In the world of physics and the laws of the universe, small observations and facts can lead to new theories. This can also be applied to our creative universe where small patterns of intent can change the story and shape the idea. This was evident in the work:

People chew on pens lead to the “Dentervention”

Majority of road accidents in Argentina happen when people try to overtake lead to Samsung Safety Truck

People like to complain via Twitter lead to  “tweeting pothole”. 

As a former strategist, I found this quite liberating.

3. To be creative you need frameworks, key behaviours and play

Jessie Walsh, a graphic designer from New York, said that an open canvas can stifle creativity and making rules can enhance it. This was backed up by Sean Healy (ZO Global Communications Planning Director) and professor Brian Cox, who talked about creating evidenced based frameworks to act as a creative canvas. Hakuhodo’s talk on Japanese Zen versus Anime culture, demonstrated that if these opposing rules are combined it can lead to amazing creativity, such as the Hibiki glass, the world’s first interactive whisky glass. 

But of course, your organisation needs to prompt the right behaviours. MIT says those micro conversations in the kitchen build trust, seating to prompt interaction between teams and having a pipeline of ideas are key to inspiring innovation culture.

Most importantly we need to play! Play is a state of mind where you feel challenged, focused and alive. It’s about ensuring that you have a sense of humour to connect things, having multiple projects on the go every now and again doing things that feed the soul. Check out 40 days of dating. 

4. Data inspires creativity

Whether it’s interesting correlations between viewership of The Walking Dead and pandemics, the fact that predictable behaviour on Twitter offers more opportunity for brands than events (think everyday tweets on music versus the Grammy’s) or that we are now in a world where artificial intelligence is so real it can generate TED talks  and beat human chess champions, the world of data allows us to paint new stories and experiences. Samsung worked with scientists, doctors and programmers to create the interactive “Look at me” app that helped combat autism. Incredible.

But Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever says that key to navigating this world of data is to build trust amongst the agency village, with centralised agency leadership to ensure that the focus is still on delivering great ideas.

5. Be authentic

Yes. We’ve heard it before and Unilever have found that their brands with an authentic purpose have experienced double digit growth. But, whilst I learnt a lot from that and the above, it was the emotion and honesty of the speakers that inspired me the most. The speakers I connected with were real.

I could have listened to Jamie Oliver for hours. His food movement started from a place to empower people to beat obesity and he has built trust simply by consistently being himself. Pharrell attributed the success of happy to everyone who shared and parodied and  Julia-Louise Dryfuss was just awesome. But the biggest surprise for me was Monica Lewinski. At the start of her talk I was just curious about “that woman who had an affair with the president”, by the end I felt nothing but compassion for the now forty year old, who made a mistake at 22 and is now trying to put her experience to good use by combatting cyber-bullying. I felt every word of her speech in my bones and found myself automatically standing at the end to give her a standing ovation. It was her honesty, rawness and authenticity.

I feel incredibly lucky to have spent 1 week at the Cannes Festival of Creativity. The inspiration, the weather, the parties and the new friends is something that I never forget. The aim now is to bring this feeling back home to Australia and keep it going every day.

That’s all from me folks,



Also published on Adnews

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