Reflection On Cannes: It’s About Co-Creation

In this post, GPJ Australia’s senior creative director James David was a first-timer at this year’s Cannes. Here’s his take on the annual adland love-in from a fresh set of eyes…

Having spent last week in Cannes for the Cannes Lions and the Creative Leaders Programme, I was super excited about the opportunity to learn with fellow global creatives and be inspired by the work on show. Back to wintery Sydney and I can’t help but reflect on the week that was.

Yes there is a stigma around the Lions, but that shouldn’t get in the way of the positive energy that Cannes provides the creative industry and the inspiration participants leave with. Global creatives go to Cannes to honour and appreciate global creative work, share some rosé and make a festival of it, absolutely, why not? But amongst the parties and Rosé, there was a demonstration of how partners, sponsors, businesses, agencies and brands connect with each other to tell powerful stories and deliver amazing consumer experiences.

There was an eco-system that embraced connectivity and relationship building and exploited the most out of the Cannes Lion experience. As I walked around, co-creation was happening everywhere, brands like IBM, Unity and Adobe were set up to offer collaborative meet-up spaces.

I connected with creatives from other agencies, other countries and discussed social challenges, solutions to bring attention to them and talked about the landscape of our industry and how we can improve connections with our clients and build new and meaningful collaborations. The sessions that took place allowed us to view work in a new light and understand the detail. We learnt from great creative minds that revealed the co-creation process they went through to bring a big idea to life. Navigating the politics to finally pair their client with another like-minded business, or creating a connection with a completely left-of-field industry.

Some fine examples were collaborations with Burger King and Anonymous, the hacking group, to draw attention to net neutrality plus Hasbro and the New York State Education Department to draw attention to the overuse of testing and scorecards. Both examples really induced a visceral feeling from their audience, changed perceptions and put a problem under a new spotlight. This was a topic that David Droga spoke about in his opening keynote, but he also reminded us that above all, it still has to be about the idea, the brand and the work.

As I listened to Conan O’Brien and Shaquille O’Neal talk about the values of their brand, it re-enforced my opinion about the power of co-creation, and that through collaboration we will do amazing work. Both celebrities revealed how they collaborate with their network (Turner) to create amazing content that talks to their brand and is influencing culture.

While I walked around Cannes, the question I was continually asking myself was how can we all collaborate to do great work – within the agency, industry or even the world. What are the stories we want to tell for our clients and what other businesses can share the benefits to help propel the idea further and develop extraordinary customer experiences.

With all the inspirational stories on show in Cannes, I’m sure my clients will have some big idea proposals sitting on their desk this week, and some new exciting collaborations will be on the way.

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