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Thinking About Cannes

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International Festival of Creativity

So next week our industry leaders, and many followers, will be sunning themselves in Cannes and basking in the glory of their creativity as the Lions week, now called the International Festival of Creativity, kicks off.

According to the website, the awards 'set a global benchmark for what good creative looks like' and the annual Festival 'connects those with a similar vision'. But what do you think? Have you been? Do you think it is a worthwhile event or just a giant networking opportunity in the sun? Does the best creative always win?

"...perhaps Cannes does have to offer more than just sunshine and gongs."

This year the speakers include Pharrell Williams, various entertainers and countless senior people from top global brands, such as Coca Cola and AOL. There are industry specific seminars and training, so you can learn something if you want to, and of course the awards ceremony itself is the main event. But will you really bring back much that you can apply to the day job or will it just come home with a tan and some new names in your contact list?

Just the other day The Guardian ran this article questioning whether Cannes Lions celebrates the worst rather than the best of advertising. Articles like this make you wonder if Cannes is losing credibility and is now perceived as less serious than SXSW Interactive, the annual 'digital fest' in Texas.

The author of the Guardian article was Tom Goodwin, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Innovation for Havas Media. So he must have a pretty good view on it. He seems to think the awards are focusing on the wrong thing. He hints that the previous winning ads have shown that as an industry we have lost touch with reality and have little understanding of the markets and 'real people' we are talking to. 

However, the introduction of the new Glass Lion award, indicates that there has now been an acknowledgement of our influence on larger culture and that we are very much in touch with what is happening right now. According to the Cannes Lions website, 'This award was created in partnership with LeanIn.Org, the organisation founded by Sheryl Sandberg to achieve true equality.' And it 'recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice, through the conscious representation of gender in advertising.'

So perhaps Cannes does have more to offer than just sunshine and gongs. If new awards are going to be created giving causes such as this a share of the platform, then that can only be a good thing, right?