Business, not creativity, wins at Cannes

Profero Colombia

Marketing InteractiveI write this as I fly back from this year's Cannes Festival of Creativity.

Like most flights back from the festival I feel inspired, tired, slightly pickled from too much Rosébut this year mostly confused!


Well it is hard to write about the theme for Cannes 2013 when there wasn't one. 

Up until last year every previous festival was about the work, after all Cannes is our industry's Oscars. But last year things started to change. And what never cease to amaze me about our industry when things change, they change so quickly if you blink you are left behind.

I wrote last year how it was the year of the clients and how they were the new rock stars of Cannes not the creative directors. Well this has had a more profound impact than I had realised. Where there are clients there is business and with business comes sensibility.

Last year the team and myself were the weird ones, "What you doing, you have meetings from nine am until midnight, are you crazy?" This year everyone had meetings; everyone's schedule was packed. PAs became the new rock stars, as Cannes seemed more like a business than a creative conference.

And so sadly there was relative little chatter about the work as the creative side almost felt like a sideshow. There seemed to be no theme as no one was talking about the awards.

Even the awards themselves seemed confused, there was endless talk of how they were outdated as it was impossible to understand what category anything sat in any more. Entries that would normally sit in the Film category were winning Cyber Lions, and mobile was winning outdoor.

In many ways this sounds depressing yet the fact that business coming to Cannes should be embraced. Our industry is at a major cross roads and it felt like many of those around us were struggling to get a handle on what they should be doing.

For many it was coming clear the gravy train was ending and those who continue to hesitate will fall away. Everyone knew this was coming but many have been in a state of ignorant bliss.

I think on reflection when the dust settles, the 2013 Cannes Lions could actually be one of the most important ever.

This should be a wake up call for the Cannes organisers that the way the awards are conducted may be outdated. For agencies this means the business of driving client results and accountability through creativity is what we are all truly about. And for Clients the realisation that they are only as good as the agency partners they navigate this new world with must be the future.

So if there was a theme for Cannes Lions for 2013 it was most likely transformation.

It feels like the industry has finally woken up from its very comfortable slumber and is ready for change. It will be interesting to see who will make the transition and that includes Cannes itself.

Wayne Arnold is founder and global CEO of Lowe Profero

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