They took a big risk

The APG (Account Planning Group) organises regular events called Noisy Thinking, where account and creative folk from top UK agencies offer their brains to us planning people, to discuss topics of interest in the advertising/comms/digital community.

Last Monday, the panel was composed of Matthew Heath (Chairman and CSO, LIDA), Patrick Hollister (Head of Design, Google), and Rachel Hatton (Strategy partner, Dare). The topic of discussion was Cannes; the changes the festival is going through, and the creative work that nowadays stands out.

The panel covered three main topics:

1- Creative people made Cannes what it was, but it has now become a different place

Patrick Hollister made the point that ‘back in the day’ Cannes was an event run for Creatives by Creatives. People in the industry would go to Cannes in order to run away from the frustration of their day to day struggles with ‘hard to convince’ clients and go to a place where they could be inspired. This is what, once upon a time, made Cannes the top destination for the Creative industry.

However, the landscape of Cannes has now changed with Creatives only representing about 20% of people who attend. In fact, Cannes has turned into a giant red carpet where jet setters meet and discuss past and future campaigns and meet those clients whom the Creatives, back in the day wanted a break from.

2- The line between the different categories is getting blurred

Cannes is going through a big revolution in terms of categories. In order to keep up with the development of digital communication and the changes it brings in the advertising industry, Cannes now offers 17 categories for agencies to enter their work.

However, the ‘media convergence’ that digital comms has ushered in has blurred the lines between categories. There are examples of excellent work being entered into categories that should be very far one another but nowadays we see the same work winning! Whether this blurring of categories is a good or bad thing is for you to say, but this certainly puts the focus on the importance of both creative quality and measurability.

3- The independent non-agencies are the new rock stars

Winners amongst the big awards are small, independent agencies. These agencies are those that stand out for outside-the-box thinking and excellent creative work.

After the event, we have been discussing what allows these agencies to develop more creative work in some of the new categories. Is it a less structured planning process and greater capability to re-scope the client briefs? What a lot of these agencies have in common is that they do not want to call themselves ‘agencies’ and do not want to be associated with the comms world, even though they are rightful players of it.

Why is it an important point of difference for them? I believe this is a whole discussion to be had on how creative agencies used to be perceived (innovative, creative?) and how they are seen today within the industry.

All in all, this Noisy Thinking was a great event where we had the opportunity to discuss both Cannes in its own right and a lot of beautiful work presented there.

In the end, Cannes is probably still the best place to get inspired and my personal takeaway from the creative work I saw is that we, as planners, should be aware that in order to have an impact on a large number of people we do not have to reach of all of them through media. A lot of clever ideas have a very small audience that experiences the brand (rather than listening to their message) and pass on this brand experience along with the brand meaning through digital media.


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