Cannes' Dirty Little Secret

Digitas

Chris Jansma

Cannes' Dirty Little Secret

image credit: Campaign Brief Asia

I just returned from my first trip to Cannes. Set against the backdrop of Riviera beaches and Rosé, the Festival lures you in with everything from enticing ideas and inspiring people to yacht parties and epic stage productions. But underneath all the glitz and glamour, all the opulence and egos, there lies something surprising: a passion for effectiveness.

That’s right. The world’s preeminent Festival de la Créativité is obsessed with results. Gone are the days when a piece of work could air once in the greater Des Moines market and win a Lion. Or when two million dollars of “craft” could buy a Gold, but little else. The festival I just came back from is obsessed with their client’s business.

Just look at this year’s judges. Susan Credle is President of the Direct Lions jury. Nick Law is President of the eCommerce jury. And Fernando Machado is President of the most coveted award of all, the Creative Effectiveness Lion. Those are some of the heaviest hitters in marketing and they’re judging categories that are all about effectiveness and commerce. Machado said it best: “Amazing creative that drives results is the fuel that powers our whole industry”.

They even handed out copies of “The Case for Creativity” in the welcome bags—a book which argues that amongst the thousands and thousands of ads we see every day, our minds need to filter out the clutter. We only notice what we find interesting, which is less than 1% of all messaging. So, in order for ads to be effective, they need to be interesting. (sorry for the egregious over-simplification, James Hurman.)

That’s not to say clients should just “trust us”. We need to sell effectiveness better. We need to prove that Great Work Works Great over and over and over again. We need to back up good work with good data and a deep understanding of their business. We need to remind our clients—who, by the way, are people, too—that people only notice what they find interesting. And people do not find a new widget with 10% more bounce interesting. People find stories interesting. People find beauty interesting. People find humanity and friction and emotion and connection interesting.

People find creativity interesting. And it’s our job to remind our clients of this.

In short, Cannes knows that Great Work Works Great. Where bad advertising is selfish, great advertising isn’t. Where bad advertising is clutter, great advertising has distinction. Where bad advertising is obvious, great advertising connects dots we haven’t connected before. Where bad advertising is about us, great advertising is about all of us.

And that is great for business.