Big ideas and packed auditoriums
Friday, June 25, 2021 3:19 PM

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The last two days have been packed. Nothing surprising, given the schedule, the names, the events, the functions and not to mention all the fun at 79 La Croisette, affectionately known as The Gutter Bar.

One thing is certain. The Cannes Festival this year has been ‘BIG'— in terms of both, ideas and learnings. The enthusiasm of the delegates also marks a turning point for the festival. Never before have I seen so many delegates troop in early in the morning and stay right through all the seminar sessions. Never. And it took a 27-year-old to pack the maximum number of people ever into the Debussy auditorium. A record that the Cannes authorities announced with glee at the Award shows later in the evening. After all when Mark Zuckerberg was in session, everybody wanted to be there.

From Zuckerberg's session, what stayed with me are two simple statements. He said that ‘Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was funded when he was in mid-school'. And ‘everybody has friends and family'. Two statements that were simple, but absolutely self explanatory. He also spoke of Facebook's philosophy of ‘designing products around people' and ‘changing the world'. Later in the evening on Wednesday, he was awarded the ‘Media Person' of the year. The best question of the day was the one put forward by the interviewer who asked Mark, ‘what would you like to be when you grow up?' This brought the house down. In all, Zuckerberg's session was very enjoyable due to his passion and clarity of vision.

Since the Indian wins, non-wins and metals tally have been written about a great deal, I would only like to register my own disappointment and move on. Anyway, for me, the highlight of Wednesday evening's award show was the ‘Cyber Lions'. But before I write more about that, let me recommend the Grand Prix winning entry in Design from a small independent Brussels-based agency called Happiness. Their idea, ‘The IQ Fonts', is truly a big, big idea. Brilliantly executed.

Amalgam of technology

What came through again and again in the Cyber Lions category was the amalgam of technology with simple but big ideas. The Grand Prix for DDB Stockholm for VW Fun Theory and Weiden +Kennedy for Nike (NYSE:NKE) Chalkbot were truly deserving. The DDB London entry for Monopoly City Gameboard, TBWA Paris entry for Aides, Grey Barcelona for Pilot Pen, Mobile Dreams Factory Madrid for Ikea, The Sounds of Hamburg Philarmonic orchestra by Jung von Matt were my other favourites. Truly deserving winners.

Wednesday was another big day for celebrity speakers. Jon Landau, the producer of Avatar and Titanic, was excellent. His explanation of the technology that transformed the expressions of actors to what we saw in Avatar was a real revelation. Spike Jonze was up next, followed by Mark Zuckerberg. You couldn't have had a better morning.

While the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) session was great for the techies and gadget geeks, the R/GA session was simple, straight forward and hard hitting. Dyed in the wool, stubborn and close-minded agencies could do well to wake up and smell the coffee. The need to re imagine brands, redesign teams and rearchitect is critical — the process was never more important. The message is clear. Change, or just be a part of the audience and watch the world go by. The Leo Burnett seminar about the collective mindset evolving every four years, akin to a generation gap every four years was very interesting. Clients sending out briefs into the cyberspace and getting back excellent stuff was highlighted by the excellent MOFILM session. Hearing from Soren Lund from Lego was an eye opener for me. Lego, a favourite of mine, has over 550,000 user generated videos on You Tube. Truly living up to its title of ‘Brain Food'!

The DDB seminar on Thursday truly highlighted the fact that mere content is of no use, it needs to be presented well too. The Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors showcase lived up to its top billing. We had a packed Grand Auditorium well in time for the start. I missed a few sessions due to a DDB Asia Pacific luncheon in pretty Moulin de Mougin. But I will get up to speed with the help of my colleagues. From what I hear, I missed a couple of good sessions. I mention this just to highlight the fact again that the goodies never seem to end. There is something different every hour. Today, Day 6 will feature sessions from Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) , AKQA, Naked etc. A full house guaranteed by the fact that we will also have Martin Sorell in conversation with Keith Weed, the new CMO of Unilever (NYSE:UL) -the Advertiser of the Year at Cannes this year, along with Maurice Levy with Bob McDonalds, the CEO of P &G, author-director Hermann Vaske and Yoko-Ono.

(The writer is Managing Director and CEO, Mudra group)



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