Haute couture on the Cotes d’azure

Arriving last weekend at Cannes Lions I was struck by the level of new technology and interactivity on show.

In real time, you can interact with 3-dimensional people and experience what looks like an actual talker talking on a stage about social media, while you yourself can actually be on social media.


I know I was waving my arms around like an idiot trying to touch things that were in front of my face before Phil told me that they actually were in front of my face.

VR can be confusing.

On Saturday morning most of the London creative fraternity were busy experiencing a virtual reality ‘hangover’ that accurately represented the clawing fug and pain of ‘going large’ on the first night.

It’s amazing what can be done these days.

Meanwhile the awards were the talking point around most of the ‘interactivity pods’ conveniently located in nearby restaurants.

The usual concerns of the work being ‘nothing like what we actually do day to day’ seemed to be a recurring theme again this year.

But does it matter?

Not for me.

There are plenty of awards systems around the world that honour the work we do every day, but what Cannes offers, much like Paris in the Spring and Autumn, is a glimpse of the unattainable.

Think of the work we celebrate on the Croisette like the Haute Couture shows of Paris, Milan, London and New York that parade the ludicrous, the outrageous, the frocks that look like biscuits and the shorts made of concrete – in the name of fashion.

These are not clothes for anyone to actually wear.

Nobody goes around in a pair of trousers that look like two wet fish, but what happens slowly over the course of the year is that fishscale styling appears, biscuit emblems on T-shirts emerge and concrete looking fabric creeps in to the high street.

Cannes is about inspiration. And that’s to be applauded. Who cares if it’s all a bit dodgy?

One CD from Brasil that I was chatting to said he knew of a winning campaign that the agency devised two weeks before the closing date, found a client and got it to run. (does any work actual ‘run’ anymore?)

What he really meant was they got some people to try it out, filmed them using it, put it on twitter and got some PR around it. That’s ‘running’ these days.

So be it. Maybe we all need to play the game. Ideas have transcended traditional media across the advertising landscape. If you are still doing old fashioned branded ad campaigns you are effectively ruling yourself out of the gongs.

My advice to you is get some cool technology and find a way to link it with your brand. Rembrandt and Banking, its an obvious connection. Rembrandt was a painter and the banks now own all his work.

Okay that’s the positive.

What about the less than positive. ( 5 years in healthcare and the word negative has been beaten out of me)

It’s the weasling notion of the ‘healthification of everything.’

I know it sounds cool and inclusive, but hold on a bloody buggering moment.

I don’t care about consumer agencies muscling in, let them come, but what constitutes a health care or wellness campaign these days?

Surely it should be about the target market?

One excellent campaign was for a paint brand that linked colour to colour-blindness. They made a set of glasses that ‘cured’ people’s affliction. (more accurately – ‘appropriated’)

Fair enough you may think, that’s healthcare.

But if they are targeting the colour-blind as a target market in its own right it seems a rather small market for a paint manufacturer.

Like a pill sold by Stella Artois that reproduces the effects of a hangover for the tee-total, so they can feel as shit as the rest of us on a Sunday morning. They’re still not buying any pints.

(In fact I may pitch that to them)

What is more likely, and even admirable from an advertising point of view, is that they are using the glasses to be inspiring about colour. But let’s be honest here, in so doing they are….well, just flogging paint.

And fair play to them, but fuck off and do it in the consumer categories!

Surely a healthcare campaign, be it from a consumer agency or not should be defined by its attempt to target a patient or HCP market?

The healthification of everything could, by a more cynical blogger than myself, become just a backdoor entry to the Lions Health awards by any old product that can find a quasi-medical angle.

Cars with auto-parking: save lives. Bottles of water: cure dehydration. The lawnmower: reduces hayfever. The Bluetooth speakers: Reduce wire based accidents in the home.

Nevertheless, this is all mere trifles.

I continue to find Cannes inspiring, infuriating and challenging in equal measures.

So what is still the real challenge of lions health?

A Grand Prix from a branded pharma campaign. Or is that just insane?

If so, I could probably enter the entry in some category for mental health.







Aiming to miss

One of the best things about being a handsome international jet-setting Creative Director (teeth glints in mirror) is the opportunity to waste time watching movies I would have otherwise never have ‘gotten’ round to watching had I not been flying somewhere deeply glamorous on some very important international creative mission (turns to camera and winks) and er…watched everything else on offer.

Recently I watched ‘The 33’ about the Chilean miners who were rescued from a mining disaster in 2010 at Copiapó.

Yes, I really had watched everything else. ( FYI give Eddy the eagle a wide birth)

I am not sure if this scene ever actually happened in real life but a key moment in the story signalled the start of act three.

When they were locked 200 storeys below fresh air, the authorities were struggling to drill successfully in to the safe space the miners had retreated to.

Due to the hard granite rock, the drills kept missing where they were aiming for. They kept getting skewed off course, not by much but enough to make it almost impossible to reach them.

The impossibly handsome minister for mining suggested to the grizzled but good-hearted chief miner that maybe they should aim to miss.

That way they might actually hit!

“Now you are thinking like a miner'” says the chief miner with a decidedly wavering Chilean accent on account of the fact he is from Dublin.

The drill duly starts completely off target and finally, miraculously, breaks through.

Yes, yes, it’s a tenuous link but guess what; it’s also how to find better ideas.

If you aim right at the heart of the problem you invariably just get the idea you were looking for.

I’ve found being counter intuitive helps when you are stuck.

So start in the wrong place.

Use the wrong target market. See what happens.

If everyone goes left, go right.

If everyone is blue, go red.

Maybe you can use animals.

Maybe no visual, just a great line will do it.

Maybe no line at all.

If ‘they will never buy it’ show it anyway.

If you start by aiming to miss, ok you might miss.

But you might hit the target and when you do it’ll be a whole lot more interesting than you probably would have got otherwise.

And remember, everything is inspiration.

Even what I would class a three out of five star movie about Chilean miners.