This! Is! Cannes! A muscular Gerard Butler might yell if he were in advertising rather than Sparta. The sentiment though is the same. The world's advertising agencies come to do battle in skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts bringing their very, very best work as "regular" advertising just isn't good enough here. There is no 'Buy one, get one free!' tag-lines, no 'Call in the next 20 minutes to receive an extra Abs-o-matic workout video.' This is Cannes, B#%@!
Calling Cannes a convention doesn't do it justice. Accountants hold conventions. Drug companies hold conventions. The Cannes Lions, or 'International Festival of Creativity,' is advertising's Oscars in the South of France, but much more. Careers are made here.
For those that don't walk away with an award, the seminars and workshops are a learning experience unlike any other. Speakers and not simply key note speakers, this year alone come from the best business such as Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Hollywood in Robert Redford, Jesse Eisenberg and Aaron Sorkin, media in Martha Stewart and CNN's Piers Morgan and music in Will.I.Am and Pharrelle Williams. These are just some of the speakers of who've appeared on stage at Cannes every hour, every day for a whole week. Last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was just another face in the crowd.
The morning after seeing my own agency, Starcom MediaVest Group, walk away with two Gold and two Silver Lions, I thought I'd reflect on the experience so far. Here's the top 1% of what I've learned in the past three days. The festival's not even half over...
Thought: There will be as much change in the next five years as there was in the last ten. Change will never be this slow again.
Remember where we were ten years ago? There was no Facebook. For many, the internet was still dial-up. Phones were still just phones and we watched TV only on TV. The death of Osama Bin Laden recently broke Twitter world records. What would Twitter have looked liked in 2001, on the morning of September 11?
Thought: Technology is driving a second technological and social revolution in the developing world.
The humble old Nokia 1100 and the ancient art of SMS is something we've moved past in the Western Hemisphere. But consider what it's only just done to Afghanistan. This phone and phones of similar vintage allowed a variation of mobile banking via SMS which had previously not existed.
When the newly formed Afghan Police force made the switch to mobile banking they thought they'd been given a raise, when all that had happened was the circumvention of the traditional and highly corrupt official institutions that skimmed 30% off their pay ... and so priced the Taliban out of the recruitment market. Social order and development via SMS. Crazy.
The developing world makes up most of the world, so we better pay attention.
Thought: Very shortly, the amount of information in "The Cloud" will double in volume every 48 hours.
The amount of digital information that already exists is staggering, and it's about to multiply by its own value every two days. Before 2020 the equivalent of a smart phone will hold a Petabyte of information, which translates to over 600 years of DVD quality video. It's this scale that allows the kind of technology you seen in Minority Report, the sort that makes people comment 'What a fascinating vision of the future'. What's more fascinating however, is that almost all the technology in that movie already exists...
I could go on and on but I'm out of space. It's easy to be snide and ask what this has to do with advertising, especially if we're advertising Doritos or something. But good advertising -- Cannes advertising -- is about knowing what drives human behaviors, be they technological or emotional. The thing about humans, is that they're all consumers too.
Because of this it's been said that by 2016 the marketing function will be the key determinate of a businesses success. I don't care what you do for a living, but you have to get yourself to Cannes. You might just change your business for the better. I leave you with this years Media Grand Prix winner: