In the Cannes: the highs, lows and learnings

IPA and DIT took a mission of agency first-timers to Cannes

This year the IPA and DIT took a mission of agency first-timers to Cannes. Here we ask them to lift the lid on their Festival highs, lows and learnings...

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First mission of agency first-timers in Cannes

So now you’ve done it, how would you describe Cannes?

  • “You drop some of the most imaginative people on the planet, throw in some of the best work capturing the zeitgeist of where culture is moving, mix up with some of the most intense conversations, opinions and ‘out-there’ scenario building, wash down with rose wine, pump music, innovation and tech and then inject the social-good and hopefully more so the environmental-good and you get the most incredible transcendental space for the shaping of communication using one of the most powerful forms of persuasive media. It’s a festival in the true sense of the word, so transformational - I’m still trying to process the event!” – Carl, Three Wise Monkeys
  • “The general experience of being in Cannes was brilliant. It was all our industry has on offer on steroids. The opportunity to listen to panels of brilliant people talking about issues most relevant to our industry, hear about the latest challenges and opportunities from industry leads and brands, and meet (and network with) some interesting and smart people. All in the space of a 4-5 days. It was a great learning opportunity and experience I can bring back to others in the agency.” – Marcus Hernon, 23red
  • “I found the trip inspiring on every level. From the people I met, as part of the mission, to all the subjects I learned about. I became more enthused about how our industry can make a difference in the world.” – Pete Camponi, Jaywing

The good the bad and the ugly - what stood out for you? And how will it change your business?

  •  “Meeting the delegation from the Chinese Advertising Association was eye-opening. While consumers the world over see brands as a source of belonging, it was clear that the current focus on purpose by Western marketers was not going to work with Chinese brands; Chinese brands are much more interested in focusing on product story and using devices such as celebrity to communicate values. There is clearly opportunity for the UK ad industry as long as it is ready to listen and adapt.” – Neil Henderson, St Luke’s.
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Meeting the delegation from the Chinese Advertising Association.
  • “The need to be braver. Cannes highlights some of the great work that others are doing that you can (and should) aspire to. Particularly work that’s genuinely driving societal change as well using technology brilliantly (rather than because they can). It also highlighted some of the challenges we face as an industry (namely trust) but also opportunities to use our talent and capability for the better.” – Marcus Hernon, 23red
  • “There was a real lack of conversation and presence about the influencer sector which I feel is shunned and looked down on by the ad industry despite it proving so much growth. I also experienced some quite serious misogony during my time networking by some rather credible men in the industry. This festival absolutely needs more female leaders with a bigger platform and accessibility. It’s also made me realise the lack of understanding around the youth generation and the lack of diversity within other agency infrastructures.” – Eve Lee, Digital Fairy
  • “As moments go, I don't think we'll quickly forget about being involved in the Gen Z and Millennial panel session with Bloomberg on the back of the of a luxury superyacht” - Coris Leachman, Impero
  • “We need to think of our agency like a brand. To do our business over the long term by making solid, enduring relationships.” – Henry Moffett, LONDON

Aside from Craig David, John Legend and Nas, which industry supremos grabbed your attention?

  • “I attended a panel discussion held by The Drum called ‘I was there’. I’m a sucker for personal stories and the narratives behind projects which in turn define projects. Eduardo Maruri, Global CEO at Grey Group Europe told a jaw-dropping story of how for a period he left his agency in Ecuador to get involved in politics and helped rewrite the Ecuadorian constitution, part of the pressuring group to have the rights of nature recognised in law - the first country to do so. Going back to advertising, he then got involved in a campaign to get lawyers to give pro bono hours to stand up to big business not respecting those laws in court. Not just an awe inspiring story but structurally important move to making brands and companies responsible for the life cycle of their actions!” – Carl, Three Wise Monkeys
  • 'When Sorrell met Whipple' talk at the Drum Arms. Martin Sorrell is one of those characters I've seen in the marketing press and mainstream media countless times. So to see him in the flesh and to be stood about 1.5m away in a small room full of industry leaders was awesome. It was a great talk and Martin Sorrell didn't hold back! – Liam Reynolds, TrueUp
  • “Alan Jope of Unilever staying that brands which are not purpose driven are not future proof. He went out to Cannes being bold and it really was an inspiration to hear him drive the purpose agenda even further. Paul laid the foundations and now Alan is really running with it!” – Jude Ower, Playmob
  • “I enjoyed hearing James Murphy from Adam & Eve and Sarah Jenkins from Grey London speak about Creativity at the House of Commons event on the LBB beach.” – John Mischcon, Chrome Productions
  • “The four young entrepreneurs that presented to a group of some of the world’s most powerful marketers at the One Young World event. Each of them is at the start of their career and they have already built businesses that are changing the world across politics, entrepreneurship, education and female rights. Definitely a highlight of the festival.” – Sam Fenton-Elstone, AIP media

And finally, in a few words, what about the fun bits..?

  • A face-to-face, freestyle rap courtesy of Wyclef Jean; the Gutter bar; the yachts; the rooftops; the FQ lounge; The Drum pub/offering; and Aisling Conlon - the IPA’s Head of Business Development - for her organisational excellence.
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Cannes first-timers, Wyclef Jean and IPA’s Head of Business Development Aisling Conlon
Last updated 21 January 2022