I am writing this piece half way through the advertising world's Oscars. Except it's not really the advertising world anymore. It's the tech world. And the changes are obvious to see.
Every square inch of fine white sand has been covered to create 'Google Harbour', Pinterest Beach, Snapchat Beach, Facebook Beach, Spotify Sands. Pop up villages that cost millions to construct. A mini Palo Alto manned by Millenials in lanyards who want to talk to you about stuff you largely know all about because you use it every day and give you a free T-shirt and a bottle of Evian.
We get it. Tech is Cannes and Cannes is tech. But how has this overt shift to tech affected pure goose-bump inducing creativity which, let's face it, is the real thing we should be celebrating here.
You wouldn't bother with watching the Oscars if the cameras and green screens got up on the stage to take a bow after all. We are here for the ideas and the clever folk who make them.
There are twenty-seven different Cannes Lions you can enter now. From Sustainable Development Goals Lions to Social and Influencer Lions. From Creative Data Lions to Entertainment Lions for Sport.
And that makes for a whole different event with different juries, different criteria for evaluating ideas. Different everything really. The diversity and nationalities of juries is refreshing is too. The gender balance is at last right. Except it feels there are too many distractions being put in front of us, too much hyperbole around the social channels we now have to apply our creativity to. And maybe not enough purity of thought when it comes to the idea itself.
Especially as each idea is now framed within a two-minute case study that those that enter have to make. Plenty of opportunity for top spin there.
As Mark Tutsell, the retiring Global CCO of Leo Burnett said to me the other night, there are too many narrators and not enough creators. I know what he means. Deep in the bowels of the Palais de Festival every day you can hear countless lectures that are dominating the event this year: How can we future proof creativity?
Creativity doesn't need future proofing. I'd say the new channels needs future proofing. Like VR for instance. How can you engage a mass audience with a one-on-one medium?
Besides creativity needs be at the centre of everything we do. Tech is tech. Data is data. Without that spark of an idea, you are left with nothing more than a bunch of ones and zeros. I love that we now have AI and the buzz word this year, 'Voice'. Just more tools we can use. A beautiful organising idea is all you will ever need, no matter what platform you apply it to. Without one, you have nothing but fluff.
Which leads me to my favourite idea that I have seen at the festival this year. Whilst Nike 'Dream Crazy' will no doubt steal the show, I was drawn to something else. It contains the most wonderful insight and creative expression of that insight.
It's a campaign for Libresse out of the UK called 'Viva La Vulva'. Except the word 'campaign' doesn't do it justice. It's way bigger than a paid media off the shelf campaign. They've created a movement. Google it. And make sure you watch the full two-and-a-half minute video. It's a treat. Like a music video only better.
I love this idea because it's a gamechanger. For eternity, women's vulvas have been shamed, censored, objectified and erased. Now they're being pornified and surgically altered. Girls as young as 12 are having vulva reconstructions. (Shame on you social media).
'Viva la Vulva' is the first campaign to say vulva, show vulvas and celebrate vulvas unashamedly. It's broken taboos to break new ground for women.
Which, for me, is the epitome of what applied creativity can do.
And for a brand that's better known for period products, expanding into caring products for the first time with an execution that's a million miles away from "intimate experts" in white coats, it's redefining a category that hasn't changed in 20 years.
So you want to talk about tech now? Easy. This idea can go anywhere, engage anywhere, live anywhere. And millions have shared it everywhere.
All without any paid media either.
Much to the chagrin of all those guys in lanyards on the beaches.
- Toby Talbot is the chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi NZ.