Simple Is as Simple Wins

06/29/2015 03:52 pm ET | Updated Jun 29, 2016


True confession:

I am sitting in Cannes, Cote d'Azur, French Riviera; at a little desk facing large balcony-type windows -- open by the way; enjoying the fresh breeze and mesmerized by the sea and the vista of hills, beautiful villas and an array of boats, from oligarch yachts to elegant sailboats to speedy tender to small local fishermen.

Frankly, a great gig, if you can get it.

And I am grateful that once a year, always during this season, I get to come here as a participant in the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; this year, once again as President of one of the juries, a new one in the Innovation Category called Creative Data -- more on that in a moment.

Every year as I reflect on my week here and review all of the work I have seen and all of the awards I have applauded and, in those years, all of the Lions I helped to award (this is my fourth jury), I am always drawn to the very notion of creativity and what its varied definitions and shades of nuance mean to all.

The Festival helped, this year, by creating a graphic that articulated some of the semantic distinctions of that powerfully meaningful word, creativity: imagination, pushing boundaries, magic, never giving up, inspiration -- interesting choices, and some might add commerce (as in it's not creative unless it sells) as a watch out for our community; and obviously innovation, as in the category that I and an amazing jury were honored to judge.

But now back to data, and here is the thing: even the use of data can be, should be, must be creative -- particularly if you believe that creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed.

And that is the point -- we take a creative product, add it to another and create yet a third; think about taking paper, ink and movable type and creating books, or digital behavioral data, deep consumer/cultural insight and brilliant copywriting and design and merging it with compelling video production and direction. Wow!

And there you have it -- I will leave it to you to judge for yourselves and I guarantee that every one of my readers will find their own muse somewhere in the work. And I would love to know where you found it!

One last point -- what seemed to be a theme across many juries was the notion that ideas, great thinking and brilliant execution are neither digital nor analog, old nor new...

And high touch is back in vogue alongside high tech, maybe even more important (my readers know where I stand on that subject); in fact, low-tech human scalability has trumped Apple Watches more than once.

I leave you with a thought from an incredible creative genius that sums up for me the message to take home... Listen:

Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. - Charles Mingus

Keep it simple and it's way easier to inspire; and at the Festival, that's the end game... isn't it?

What do you think?