No grins and chuckles at Cannes this year. We have been sporadically entertained by grimacing babies for Pampers Pooface. The film by AV-OG-TIL, the Norwegian don’t-drink-and-drive foundation, on how to parallel park your boat alcohol-free also tickled our funny spot. As did the Value City Furniture featuring people sitting on their new bank and being repulsed by the rest of their interior. Otherwise it’s been a sad and miserable affair.
To start with: the ridiculous prices. Cannes Lions charges 3,000 euros for a full-week pass. But you have to pay 2,000 extra if you don’t want to queue and another two grand if you order a networking pass. Young creatives pay ‘just’ 1,425 euros. Have we all come down with a case of Gilles de la Croisette? Do we really want only business seat supporters who see the exhibition as an annoying interruption to their life of beach, booze and bœuf bourguignon? Young Lions of the world unite and occupy this proletariat palace!
Then you’ve got the 45,000 entries. You used to hang out in a cinema for a day and leave knowing all you needed to know: the work spoke for itself. Not now. These days you spend a whole week plodding through cases that have very, very detailed explanations. And it’s all become so serious and profound. Even if it isn’t actually charity, it looks like one because everything you do has to be purposeful. No purchase without purpose is Unilever’s mantra. Even though it’s all very well-intentioned, this magnified and in-your-face look at poverty, AIDS, child labour, obesity and skin cancer put a real damper on a party. The unbearable heaviness of being.
So no fun and games at Cannes and preferably no advertising at all. We’ve become boy scouts and community servers. And prefer to put the media budget into a real invention. Volvo plays the part of The Institute of Advanced Motorists by passing out reflective spray for cyclists. And there isn’t an account for charitable donations to combat iron deficiency anaemia in Cambodia, but instead little cast iron fish that you can cook with your food. And Vodafone Turkey isn’t going for a comedian. But is instead presenting an app that women can use to automatically alert three friends if they are in danger simply by shaking their smartphone. Never before have so many Lions gone to innovations. And it is with good reason that the award for personal performance – the Lion of St. Mark – went to Bob Greenberg. His agency R/GA was closely involved in the development of the Nike+ eco system. Our profession is going all Daan Roosegaarde. And Gyro Gearloose wins.
In the Palais des Festivals we hear the strings of the blues with whining guitars. But there is one bright spot from an unexpected corner. Because how in hell are these innovations ever supposed to be put into production. The work for creatives has in essence remained the same. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a video, ice bucket campaign or a little fish – an idea is an idea. But its execution is a totally different story. Who’s going to organise the job? Who’s going to apply for the patent? Who’s going to formulate a suitable business model? That’s right, the advertising fix-it guys: traffickers, producers, account people. Our good old chums who somehow always manage to fix whatever crazy stuff creation comes up with. They can finally shake off their cardboard box carrier complex. Dazzle on the list of credits. And the best master mister fix-it will from now on be emblazoned across the Cannes shield for the Ray Donovan Lion. Now that’ll be funny.