Monday, July 09, 2012

Caren Explains the Cannes Lions 2012

If you keep up with me on Twitter, you were probably overwhelmed by my tweets from Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last month in the south of France. Now in its 59th year, the festival brings together the most creative minds in business -- mostly from advertising and marketing but increasingly from other fields.

Thanks to the ever-generous Google, I was invited to the Cannes Creative Academy for Young Marketers for "Young Lions" under the age of 30. During the week, I heard from some of the industry's top creative minds in a small classroom setting, as well as the festival speakers in larger sessions.

Some staggering stats from Cannes:
  • 11,000 delegates attended Cannes Lions 2012, with 90+ countries represented
  • There were 34,304 entries for Cannes Lions awards, while 47% of all ad campaigns that ran last year were deemed failures by the market
  • Research shows best brands in the world outperform S&P by 400%, confirming that the brand is an incredibly important intangible asset
  • More #canneslions tweets were sent in a day this year than in all of the 2011 festival
If you're an ad geek like me and Don Draper, it was a week full of "pinch me!" moments (as well as business buzzwords like "earned impressions" and "creating value"). Here are some of the best things I heard and saw over the week...

The Work

Each day, the festival displayed the short list of finalists for Cannes Lions awards in each category. Other work, including videos from the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors' Showcase, was shown in sessions. Here is a pinboard of the best stuff I saw.

Favorite Case Studies

Of the thousands of celebrated campaigns, here are three that stood out for their impact and effectiveness.

Soundbytes: Quotes from the Experts

“Search the right place, not the bright place.” - Morihoro Harano, founder and chief of creative at PARTY Tokyo

"The revolution is coming from all sides... and I hope what we witness is the rise of the independents." - Dan Wieden, co-founder and global executive creative director of Wieden+Kennedy, on the changing agency landscape

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance a heckuva lot less.” - Joe Tripodi, EVP and Global Marketing Officer of The Coca-Cola Company

"Leadership is the responsibility you have to articulate your ideas in the face of 'no.'" Jonathan Mildenhall, Vice President of Global Advertising Strategy at The Coca-Cola Company

“Fax machines don’t have APIs” - Michael Scissons, CEO of Syncapse, on bringing companies into the present of techology

“We’re always inclined to chase the new, new thing... but it’s about pace.” - Michael Wall, President of Lowe & Partners, on bringing your customers with you when you're selling tech

"When you're a young client, you make the mistake of thinking that creatives want a big white page, but really they want more concise things." - Laurie Coots, CMO of TBWA\Worldwide

"I didn't write 'Just Do It'... I just did it." - JR, street artist and TED Prize winner, on art versus advertising

"If you ask creatives what their job is, all of them will say the same thing: to do good work." - Tor Myhren, President of Grey New York

"Our desire to measure ourselves is unique and universal." - Stefan Olander, Vice President of Digital Sport at Nike, on the insight that lent to Nike Fuelband

"The problem with advertising is you buy the drink, but don't have the friends... you buy the 4x4, but don't have the freedom... you buy the promise, but end up buying the wrong product." - philosopher Alain de Botton

"Great advertising deeply impacts the ways executivies think about and talk about their companies." - Jean-Marie Dru, Chairman of TBWA\Worldwide

"You can never expect the young people to learn if you don't let them speak... let them get involved." - Val diFebo, CEO of Deutsch NY

"Does anyone ever start at their best? That would be so depressing, to start at the top and work your way down." - Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie

"Nobody expected a '10' was possible... the scoreboards could not accommodated a '10.'" - Nadia Comaneci, star of new Visa campaign, on earning the first perfect score at the Olympics in 1976

"Do well and do good." - President Bill Clinton in his keynote on advertising responsibility

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Life, Liberty, Happiness and the Absence of the Pursuit

Last year on the Fourth of July, I saw a woman wearing a bedazzled shirt that spelled out three words: Life, Liberty, HappinessBorrowed from the Declaration of Independence, the words were (of course) colored in red, white and blue.

The shirt was cute -- patriotic, playful -- but upon reading those three words I considered two that were noticeably missing: "pursuit of." Though the omission was obviously for the art of the shirt, I read it to be a sign of the times. 

The founding fathers knew then, as we should now, that happiness is not a God-given right. If anything, it is a lucky find.

Yet ours is a time of instantaneous gratification. If you don't believe me, just watch someone's face light up when they receive a new "Like" or RT or +1. We can also order our entertainment on-demand, pick-up dates from websites and have gourmet meals delivered in 30 minutes or less. In short, we've grown accustomed to ordering and controlling our happiness. 

The pursuit is also lost in the stories we tell ourselves. You can achieve anything you dream of! You're special! You can have it all! But none of that comes without a lot of work, a bit of misery and some sacrifices -- things that make us decidedly unhappy and uncomfortable.  

I see the consequences of this playing out in my generation, as my peers and I stumble around expecting happiness. Scores of college students who majored in cool subjects that don't immediately lend to career paths are now drowning in debt and moving home. Others, like me and 45% of my business school classmates, changed jobs within the first year of graduation, citing a need to be more fulfilled.

Of course we should have our eye on happiness. Our technological and sociological achievements should be celebrated. Yet I worry we are trying to rush ahead to the end goal at the expense of the pursuit and, with it, are losing the value of patience.

Some of my darkest times are responsible for my greatest happiness. For how much greater is happiness when it has alluded you? How much more do you grow when you are tested? Being unhappy has made me fight for it and pushed me to take more risks.  Our Founding Fathers assured us that pursuit. 

Happiness is a choice, not a circumstance, and we are free to chase it. We are free to find it.