Cannes 2016 – CANNESdidates Wrap Up

Through MG OMD’s CANNESdidates programme we had the chance to attend the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2016. We spent 3 days listening to inspirational talks, trying out new technologies and attending a few parties.

We’re certain you don’t want to listen to us boasting about the various celebrities spotted, so instead, over the next 2 days we will talk you through some of the key learnings from the most interesting talks we attended, focusing on the overall topics of purpose, collaboration and creativity that ran throughout the festival.


Carl Addy, Creative Director for The Mill, talked about the SNAFU: a word for chaos and messed-up situations and how they are fuel for creativity. As people, we are built to perform and problem-solve through creativity – that’s how we evolved as a human race from the Stone Age to the modern world we live in now. However, it is key to make a clear distinction between good and bad stress. Bad stress leads to tunnel vision, whereas good stress creates a challenge and avoids stagnation. It is important to note that creativity is not about the right or wrong answer – sometimes it’s better to be more interesting than right. Also, we need to be comfortable with not being able to control everything and learn to work with our gut feelings.

Cannes 2016 Wrap Up Im1 Day1

Summary: Don’t be scared of stress – it helps you to think creatively and come up with new solutions. Don’t try to control everything and trust your instinct.



‘Cracking the code of creativity’ session by Razorfish and Contagious analysed 25 years of Cannes Lions winners with the goal of identifying the key factors that maximise the chance of winning a Lion.

To be honest, the general feeling was that winning a Lion is extremely hard; the percentages speak for themselves:

  • Bronze Lion         1.7%
  • Silver Lion            1.83%
  • Gold Lion             0.73%
  • Grand Prix           0.07%

So how can we maximise our chances? Interestingly, the research showed that there is no correlation between creativity and media spend, no correlation between the GDP of the country and creativity and no correlation between the size of the agency and the likelihood of winning a Lion. So it seems the code is far from cracked, however here are a few indicators that do have some influence:

  • Clients and agencies that stick together have a much better win rate! 10+ year client/agency relationships experience x2 the average winning rate
  • Submissions that have more individual people involved are more successful by 26%
  • Submissions with a larger share of below director level individuals are more successful
  • Submissions with 3+ agencies credited have 42% higher rate of winning

Cannes 2016 Wrap Up Im2 Day1

Summary: Every campaign has a chance to win a Cannes Lion no matter what the budget, the key is relationships between the agencies and the clients as well as involvement across all levels of the businesses.



The actor, Will Smith, had one of the most inspirational talks of the festival discussing how the internet has changed the movie industry and how social media puts pressure onto film directors to make great movies due to instant reviews.

Then he hit a more philosophical note regarding how brands and individuals need to shift from targets to goals. This would build both brand and personal legacy. Question all of your decisions – are they helping you reach your goals?

Summary: Do you know what your brand and personal purposes are? If so, make sure any decisions you make help you to get there.



Al Moseley from 180Amsterdam spoke about moving from the imperialist model to the Roman orgy. Sounds very saucy but it posed a lot of truth. Currently, competing agencies in front of the client are like gladiators fighting in front of an Emperor. They are constantly fighting their corner and waiting for approval.   All too often the consumer gets forgotten in this process as well as keeping track of the bigger picture. We need to be reminded that the real Emperors are the consumers and they are the ones to please.

Cannes 2016 Wrap Up Im1 Day2

Agencies and clients should move to a more collaborative Roman Orgy model where everybody has clear ambition, knows the rules, trusts each other and creativity is encouraged. This will provide a sound basis for a collaborative culture, healthier relationships and overall commitment to the common goal. To start the collaboration process, Al Moseley encouraged all parties to agree on three key questions:

1.) Do we know the ambition and purpose? Do we share the ideology?

2.) Is everyone empowered to contribute in a positive way?

3.) Are we prepared to push boundaries and if so, where do we draw the line?

Summary: We are stronger when working together; creativity should be a collaborative effort rather than a clash of egos and bravado. Everybody needs to be equally invested in a relationship and have the same ambition and purpose.



Keith Weed from Unilever talked about the power of individuals, influencers and impacts, but primarily focused on the latter.

Advertising has the power to change habits, hearts and minds meaning that big multinational corporations, such as Unilever, have the chance to touch people across the world at scale. They moved from advertising to sell products, to advertising with a purpose. Some of these examples – Lynx – Find Your Magic , Persil – Dirt is Good, Dove – Self Esteem Project fight stereotypes and encourage social good.  We create better advertising if we create more progressive, purposeful ads.

Cannes 2016 Wrap Up Im2 Day2

The good news is that purpose led ads are more successful. At Unilever – sustainable living brands grew 30% faster than the rest of the business.

Summary – The returns on purpose-led advertising are not limited to a feel-good factor and a sense of moral achievement – It also provides growth and revenue.



Wired’s Kevin Kelly covered four out of 12 predictions for the future. He highlighted that these changes are inevitable, but specifics can’t be known until it actually happens.

1.) Virtual reality (VR) will be the next platform after the smartphone and will take shape in Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. The key to these new realities is that we are not trading clicks and views, we are trading emotions and experiences. So don’t try to put a banner in VR – give people a story and an experience they can relate to. New realities allow us to move to the internet of experiences. Check out Magic Leap – they pave the way of future MR.

2.) ‘Cognifying’ – making everyday things smart via artificial intelligence (AI). Kelly calls it the second industrial revolution (some say the fourth). When electricity was invented, we no longer needed to use muscle power to move things. With AI, there will be no need for us to complete certain thinking tasks that require efficiency.

Example: When we applied electricity to a water pump, we no longer needed to manually pump the water out of the well. Now take the electric water pump and apply AI – and you no longer need to think when to pump the water.

3.) Don’t worry about AI taking over – it will be better than humans on specific tasks, but not for everything.  Just because a dog is much better at smelling or a mouse in hearing, it doesn’t mean they comprehend the bigger picture. In the same way, Siri is smarter than we are in understanding maps and navigation, or Google Now is smarter than we are in finding the information, but it is just that. AI will become a service, a grid that you can tap into to get extra cognitive power (like electricity, gas or water presently). We will be able to ‘borrow’ some extra thinking power to complete our tasks faster and with more precision.  There are, of course, still be questions to be answered, such as AI ethics, for example, with autonomous AI cars, at the point of an imminent crash, who’s safety will it put first – the passenger’s or the pedestrian’s?…

4.) Centaurs – teams of humans and AI working together, rather than AI taking over. It will take over jobs that require efficient process and precise outcome. AI will also create new jobs for humans (the same way the internet did), where efficiency is not a priority – such as arts, experiences, scientific innovation – areas that require creativity, bravery and testing. AI will be able to diagnose and cure diseases like cancer, perform gene modification – but we will pave the way in identifying what to actually research (using AI of course).

Cannes 2016 Wrap Up Im4 Day 2

Summary: The future is always hard to predict, but at present, we can assume it will be tech-driven with machines having the capability to make us super-human.


In conclusion, we had an incredible time at the Cannes Festival of Creativity 2016 and are so grateful to MG OMD for the opportunity to attend. Through hard work and a winning idea, we got to witness the incredible advancements of thought and technology taking place in our industry first-hand and through the mist of sunshine, sea and the occasional glass of rosé, we learnt to look to the future and embrace the changes that promise to impact us all.  We are ready, are you?

Originally posted at and


About Author


Leave A Reply