Cannes Lions

45 quotes from the Cannes Lions Festival


Brilliance: The power of trust, team, respect and mutual sparks

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt


#canneslions : this is the Mecca of creativity, here the world’s top talented people in advertising and PR meet, compete and interact. A mist of almost holy creativity hangs over the French Riviera city for a full week.

The winners of the first Lions, the prestigious Cannes awards, have been unveiled, and even the very critic peer jury was in awe of the level of brilliance that radiated from the awarded entries. Daring, edgy, entertaining, moving, captivating… it was all there.

The old journalist in me looked as much at the audience, as at the stage. It was fascinating to see how agencies and their clients were sharing these awkward seconds between introduction of a category, and announcement of the winners. Sometimes, client and agency literally await the verdict hand in hand… and every time, winning, close second… or losing was shared by a joined team.

Great brands need great agencies. Great brands and great agencies need great people. Great people in the right environment spark pure brilliance.  None of the winning or shortlisted agencies was working for a client. To even compete at this level, it takes more than working for someone. It means partnering. It implicates blind trust and tremendous respect. To win, you need to think outside the box, deliver above standards, re-invent the path to success, and break down any barriers that might prevent flawless delivery of stellar ideas. Not even a team can chew that off. You need a tribe.

There is no arrogance in successful teams, no politics, no poker faces… to win, every single tribe member needs to break through all that, and become the selfless soldier of a platoon under heavy enemy fire: the confidence that comes when you know you’re covered.

The old French elite Musketeers already knew the key to success: all for one, and one for all… More social than that, it does not get ;-)


Different Words, Same Ideas

Originally posted on the Porter Novelli blog by Marta Majewska

During World Word II, an American spy was caught by the Germans. Not because of his language skills. He spoke German like a German. But one little detail gave him away: the way he held his fork and knife.

Speaking a language is not enough. Not to be a spy, nor to be a good communications professional. In order to successfully blend into a culture, you must know that culture inside out. And that goes way beyond the language.

“When a pharmaceutical multinational launched a new product internationally, they thought they could avoid translation issues by using pictures to explain the benefits. The picture on the left showed an ill patient, the middle one, the patient taking the medication and the picture on the right showed him looking well again. Among the markets for the launch was the United Arab Emirates. Arabic speakers read from right to left.”

This is just one of many examples from “The Little Book of Transcreation” that I found in my Cannes Lions goodie bag today. Never heard of Transcreation? It’s about translating words, creative concepts and ideas without losing the cultural impact. Very often what it comes down to is: different words, same ideas.

Although the book mainly gives examples from the advertising world, I can see similar challenges when it comes to language and linguistic associations that underpin the campaigns in the world of communications. And those have gotten even more complex with the rise of social media.

Much has been said about how global social media is and how it doesn’t know the boarders and don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of truth in there. Your customers are able to see what your brand is doing in different markets and what happens in one country, good or bad, can easily become a ‘thing’ in another. But your target audience still lives in one country, with their own language, their own sayings, their own slang, their own culture and their own cultural heritage. No matter how ‘cool’ and creative your campaign or program might be, without taking into consideration the market’s language, culture and the brand’s positioning, you can harm not only your campaign but an overall brand too.

Don’t be mistaken, I am a big fan of global campaigns. They ensure greater brand consistency and messaging across markets and can be executed at reduced costs. But a global campaign will never be successful globally, if it’s not relevant locally. How can you ensure your audiences get culturally relevant messages wherever they are in the world? Involve the locals. Have all communications signed off by a local product manager or marketing manager. Have a local community manager who communicates and engages with the local audiences. Think globally, act locally – I know this slogan has been overused, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.


Community is your model, connection your strategy

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt


Wandering through the old streets of Cannes, the various advertisings and teasers are about online. Digital, you know, and social media.  #canneslions 11 is going to be Social. For sure.

Sipping cooled drinks, awaiting the official start of the event, conversation goes on about the future. The future of advertising, communication, news, influencing. The future of some very influencing industries. And, apparently, between industrial quantities of Pastis and Pernod, it has been decided that that future is going to be digital. And social. For sure.

I, for one, think that this is missing the point entirely. I agree with The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University: the real future of advertising, communication, media buying and news lies exactly where it was in the past: in the ability to deliver a compelling message to a selected audience.

Having insights (metrics, data, intelligence,…)on the communities that harbor your target audience enables you to plot a suitable connection plan, fueled by conversation topics and appealing content.

It does not matter if that community is on or offline. A good strategy is built around the connecting points, encompassing on- and offline, making sure to reach the community in the least intrusive way. Stop bringing the people to the mountain… move the mountain…

If you reach out to communities… do not forget you reach out to people, not to numbers, or dots on a chart… reaching out to people is pretty social in my book, it always was…

The key to success is still the ability to benefit from insights, to have the right empathy to feel the community, and to cleverly select the right mix of influencing channels.

Some old games never change, they just dress differently…


Talking dust: you cannot harness the power…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt


Buzz words, and buzzing phrases… it’s intriguing to see how concepts that made perfect sense when they were first used,  gradually erode to the dust of absolute hollow meaninglessness…

The phrase I heard most so far at #canneslions is “harnessing the power of communities”. Seriously, every keynote or seminar I went to, used it: harnessing the power of communities. People on stage trying to make us understand that, regardless if you’re in communications, marketing or media buying, you need to aim at that community. And… harness it’s power. Whatever that means.

What rubs me the wrong way is the directional connotation that the new buzz phrase has. Go harness the power of the community. The community is your target. Go, mighty marketing soldiers… go, and harness its power.

I do not see it work. If a community is your target you will fail, miserably. The secret potion of success lies in understanding the community, finding common grounds and interest points, and creating a partnership that is built upon mutual respect. To make it work, you’ll need engagement… and regardless how well you target the community, and how desperate you want to harness its power… well, you simply cannot. Because engagement and interaction comes from them, the people within the community. They will choose whether or not you’re interesting, funny, nice, intriguing and adorable enough for them to invest some of their energy in you.

See, the power of a community exists. It’s pure magic… but you cannot harness it. The power of a community is a precious gift, and rather than go and conquer it, you’ll have to earn it.

Earning trust and respect, that will lead towards engagement, is a social skill. The social in Social Media was not put there by mistake…

So, stop talking dust…


The Wooden Cloud: Archiving the internet… on paper…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt


Stop the press. Seriously. The red button, press it. While everyone at #canneslions is going all mellow on online stuff, and the slow death of classic press is being proclaimed on some over-enthusiast blogs, Internet Archive starts backing up its efforts…. on paper.

Imagine this: “Internet Archive is building a physical archive for the long term preservation of one copy of every book, record, and movie we are able to attract or acquire… The goal is to preserve one copy of every published work,” says Brewster Kahle, from Internet Archive on his blog. So Internet Archive is scanning in all those massive records… but is backing them up on dead trees.

“All our disks, servers and storage means are still objects” says Kahne: “stuff can go wrong with it”.

So for every scanned item in their archive, Internet Archive is now keeping the hard copy as well. Millions of books and publications, on normal paper.  They developed a modular storage system in Oakland California, constructed around one of the most popular storage units in the world: the shipping container –  40.000 books in a container (the equivalent of a standard library), stackable to accommodate the millions of books.

Preserving all the books on the internet, backing up this digital Alexandria on paper. The Cloud never felt more heavy…


The cemetery of world changing inventions

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt


So I arrived in Cannes, city of plush French Riviera, overpriced terraces, great sunsets, and –especially with the #canneslions – a lot of overzealous marketing people. The old journalist in me still has a knack for spotting interesting conversations around me. When I heard two junior people going all ballistic over Facebook, I could not help smiling.

Facebook will never go away,” the young girl said. “Ever. It’s too game changing. Too many people are touched by it. It’s here to stay.”

How I love youth. How I love the naïve black-and-white painting of a complex society. The lack of long time perspective… how I adore people not yet tainted by the knowledge that what moves up, comes inevitably down… and hard.

I look back on almost half a decade of life-altering inventions that changed humankind forever. VHS. Betamax. The telex. The fax. LED watches. The modem. IRC.  BBS hot tub. MySpace. Yoghurt machines. The number of applications, inventions and conditioned behaviors that simply eroded, ebbed away, and got forgotten is mind boggling. In the best of cases, some of it is now museum shelf material, gathering dust.

In the steam engine era, steam engines were a big deal. Really. It changed life as they knew it. They thought those whistling machines were there forever.  Well, it has been a while since I saw the cloud-spitting Flying Scotsman thundering by.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr… they are great. They change life as we used to know it. But something tells me, we’re not there yet. There will be the next next thing. One day, we’ll have to explain to a whole new young generation what all the fuss was about.

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