Diversity, Innovation and Wonder Ruled at Cannes Lions 2017

“The French Riviera was not exactly where I pictured myself to be this winter, but when our King James team won the Pendoring Prestige Prize (a R100 000 study trip) in 2016, all of that changed. Instead of a mug of hot Milo and an Ouma rusk in front of the fire, I found myself strolling along a blue carpet leading up to the Cannes Lions festival in the sun.”

So says Graeme McCree, King James (Cape Town) Creative Director, who winged his way to the Cannes International Advertising Festival earlier this year, courtesy a portion of the creative team’s prize money in lieu of an overseas study trip.

I made my way towards the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès convention centre with over 15 000 other creatives, hoping to be inspired but more importantly to chat to one of the celebrity speakers (and one of my heroes), acclaimed actor and activist, Sir Ian McKellen.

“Sadly, I couldn’t get an invite to Sir Ian’s yacht party but I did attend his talk with The Brooklyn Brothers on ‘Gaining Creative Fulfilment by Doing the Right Thing’. The speakers highlighted the festival theme – Diversity. They encouraged us to share real stories in our work, stories that showcased different perspectives and reminded the audience that business thrives on diversity, diversity drives creativity and creativity grows business.

“These thoughts were echoed by many of the speakers and featured heavily in a lot of the winning work - from McCann’s ‘Fearless Girl’ statue for State Street Global Advisors to the ‘Refugee Nation’ created in partnership with Ogilvy & Mather and Amnesty International.  What these ideas have in common is an innovative approach to sharing real stories. Innovation starts with problem-solving; how we disrupt the status quo, how we break the advertising mould and do things differently to not only sell a product but (more importantly) to also make a difference.

But Cannes wasn’t all about changing the world, McCree says. “There were beach parties and brain dates, live music, Japanese whisky and real-life Pinterest boards, plus a huge Snapchat Ferris wheel that dominated the festival grounds and invited everyone to look at the world with a sense of wonder. Much like design jury member and TutkovBudkov Creative Director, Dmitry Tutkov, who teamed up with S7 Airline and Ok Go to create the music video Upside Down and Inside Out in zero gravity. His talk ‘#GravitysJustAHabit: An Optimistic Ad Made in the Most Depressing City’ encouraged collaboration with unexpected partners to produce playful and inspiring work.

“What really hit home, was the festival theme (and creative power) of diversity,” he stresses, “I left Cannes with a sense of wonder, overloaded with inspiration.”

Following his trip to Cannes and “sipping Milo in Cape Town”, an inspired McCree hopes to bring more diversity, innovation and wonder to his own work.

Concludes Nick Efstathiou, GM of OFM, a bronze Pendoring sponsor: “Through the substantial cash prize of R100 000 for both the Prestige and Umpetha winners in lieu of an overseas study trip, Pendoring goes a long way in assisting South Africa’s top creatives to spread their wings and gain valuable experience abroad. Undoubtedly this is not only to the benefit of the winners in their respective careers, but also of the industry as a whole. OFM is extremely pleased that, through its Pendoring sponsorship, the station contributes to this end.”