There was a great article written by Rei Inamoto, chief creative officer of AKQA, for AdAge last year about why Cannes Lions, the international festival of creativity – otherwise known as advertising’s biggest global awards – trumps SXSW in terms of content.
“At events like SXSW, there is a lot of information. And information can become useful knowledge for marketers. However, what really moves people is inspiration. And that’s where Cannes keeps its edge for marketers. While SXSW may be about informing and finding that Next Big Thing, Cannes’ focus has been about pushing this industry of ours forward,” he says.
It reflects my own sentiments exactly. I’m well versed in both, but Cannes likewise wins for me* largely because of both the curation and the quality of its content. This is the place where true leaders come together to share not only best in class work, but overarching ideas and thoughts for the future of this space.
It’s a week where inspiration is utterly abound (alongside copious vats of rosé of course). Speakers over the last couple of years have spanned former US president Bill Clinton, Malcolm Gladwell, Robert Redford, Sir John Hegarty, Alain de Botton, Patti Smith, Aaron Sorkin and more.
Yet it’s SXSW that the fashion industry has managed to get a good grip on in terms of its relevance to them – all manner of luxury brands and major retailers have been in attendance these past couple of years, as I’ve previously covered, to source both content and opportunities for partnerships within the largely tech-focused world. Of course at SXSW there are now huge volumes of agency folk too, and at Cannes an increasing number of technology companies.
Two years ago I wrote this article about the significant lack of fashion presence throughout Cannes. It focused on the fact that fashion communications remained largely about print ads selling product over campaigns selling ideas, a viewpoint I still hold at large, but certainly one that is beginning to shift. In doing so, it’s sparking more relevance than ever for these brands to start making an appearance at Cannes, both on the delegates list and in those nominated for awards.
The great news is, 2013 looks like the year that might take shape.
Just announced is news that Burberry CCO Christopher Bailey will take to the stage on the Friday of the festival (it runs from June 16-22) to talk about “digital’s creative revolution” with Google’s head of marketing, Lorraine Twohill. From the write-up, as well as prior news from Google, that event will be the kick off for another impressive digital project from the brand.
Burberry is one of a number, alongside adidas and Volkswagen, involved in Google’s Art, Copy & Code initiative, a follow-up to its Project Re-Brief last year. This is “a series of projects and experiments to show how creativity and technology can work hand in hand”.
The write-up for the session at Cannes adds: “How do you engage your audience when ad views are voluntary? What happens when the physical and digital worlds intersect? How can data enable creativity? What if ads didn’t have to look or feel like ads? The only way to find the answers is through risk taking and experimentation.”
[Side note here as to Google's subtle but increasing infiltration into the fashion industry across all aspects of its business - way beyond just search].
Elsewhere at Cannes there are other fashion types in attendance too – Vivienne Westwood speaking with SapientNitro to “de-construct the narrative behind some of the most innovative stories of all-time”, and photographer Annie Leibovitz as part of a panel discussing the “genesis, evolution and continued success of the global ‘Disney Dream Portraits Series’.”
Watch this space…
And do also keep an eye out for the free daily live-streams being offered from the festival for the first time this year… there will undoubtedly be some good ones to choose from.
*Full disclaimer: I am employed by the same parent company as Cannes Lions. My opinion would stand regardless.