CEO Update | July 2023

What’s the point of Cannes?

We’ve just finished yet another year of celebration, inspiration and yes, awards, at the Cannes Lions Festival. Along with it comes the echo of the perennial argument that it’s all a load of self-congratulation without any tether to the real world of advertising and business results. My view, in contrast, is that we’ve never needed Cannes more than we do now.

Creative people need inspiration. Cannes is a moment to pull our heads out of the bubble of our molecular concerns; the wrestles of profitability, economic headwinds, client demands, flexible working. A moment to remind ourselves that big ideas still exist, that they can indeed come from anywhere (Armenia and Nigeria won their first ever Lions this year), and that they can make us see the world differently.

But then, none of the work that wins at Cannes is actually real work, is it? Tell that to local clients Skinny and Partners Life, both of whom won multiple Lions. Both these campaigns have already received significant success in both Axis and Beacon Awards. Both are backed up by business outcomes, and both are challenging their category conventions.

Yeah, but most of the winners are charities and causes you’ve never heard of, aren’t they? What’s your point? Charities operate in one of the most cluttered sectors possible. Standing out is an absolute mandatory. So, if there are creative solutions to this invisibility, shouldn’t we celebrate it? Absolutely.

Aotearoa did pretty well, picking up 2 Grand Prix, 3 Golds, 7 Silver, 7 Bronze, and the Independent Agency of the Year for Strategy. We’re good at creativity. Our sources of inspiration go way beyond our small geographic borders. When we’re at our best, we’re the inspiration for other markets. That’s what Cannes is about; enabling creative thinking to travel, to inspire, and to make people think differently. What wins at Cannes will influence creatives across the globe, moving us forward, reminding ourselves that the bar is always getting higher, and pushing us to do our best on every brief.

Congratulations to all Aotearoa winners this year. Here’s to an even bigger haul in 2024.