Cannes Lions: Amidst Star-Studded Celebrity, Empathetic Humanity Shined


This Cannes Lions article was written by Murray Newlands

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity included over 48 hours of talks, in addition to workshops, screenings, exhibitions, award shows and parties.

After absorbing as much of it as I could while in attendance last week, I'm going to break down the highlights and try to capture the key moments here in this post.


There is always a degree of skepticism in bringing celebrities to marketing and advertising event, though less so at Cannes Lions. However, the celebrity guest speakers this year were mostly well received.

Kanye West delivered a talk during which he discussed content, creators and collaboration in today's cultural landscape. The powerful message he left the audience with was to do ground breaking work. Not all that different from just about every message you hear onstage at the Palais but Kanye has his own unique way of delivering.

Jared Leto was incredibly charming and personable. In his talk, he gave a shout out to South Africa, saying that it's one of his favorite countries in the world. A phrase was coined by Pereira & O'Dell's Chief Creative Officer PJ Pereira, saying that in the age of content, advertisers need to learn to "behave like an entertainer." Leto perfectly exemplified this point.


The conversation this year centered on innovation and taking a human approach to the application of technology.

Google gave the audience one of the first looks at its latest projects. That included Project Loon, in which Google aims to provide Internet coverage to even the most remote places in the world using a series of high altitude balloons.

Another was Google's Project Iris, which is a contact lens that will allow diabetics to measure their insulin levels without having to draw blood.

With each of these projects, Google is not looking for new ways to make money, it is looking to invent technology that's useful to people.


The biggest buzzword at Cannes Lions was "storytelling", with the key message being that the best way break through the noise is by telling a story to which other people can relate.

"Advertising has gone from being literal to connecting with the heart," said Piyush Pandey, executive chairperson and creative director of Ogilvy & Mather South Asia.

"But the best advertising goes one step beyond storytelling," said Adknowledge CEO Ben Legg, a Cannes Lions panelist this year. "Brands and agencies also have to craft a strategy that effectively reaches consumers at scale across platforms that include social, video and mobile," Legg said.


The winners of this year's Cannes Lions are a reflection of the festival's major themes. Many agencies took awards for work that improved more than just sales, their work improved people's lives, as well.

As an example, Dutch agency Lemz took home the Grand Prix for Good for "Sweetie," a computer generated 10-year-old girl that was used to identify and track down over 1,000 child predators worldwide.

South African agencies won an impressive number of awards spanning categories such as outdoor, press, promo and activation.

Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg took the Radio Grand Prix for its Lucozade campaign.

And, of course, adam&eveDDB cleaned up with its "I'm sorry I spent it on myself" campaign for Harvey Nichols.

by Steve Hall    Jun-24-14   Click to Comment   
Topic: Industry Events