I had the honor of attending the Cannes Lions 64th International Festival of Creativity as a part of the Ketchum delegation. There’s no doubt that attending is inspiring. You are surrounded by much of the creative community’s top work and its most influential minds. Inspiring as it is, it’s also daunting. Many of the winning campaigns were produced by companies with large budgets to spend on multifaceted efforts, and the reality is that most clients don’t have massive budgets. The other common concern is that, even if the agency has what it deems to be an award-winning idea, there is still the possibility that the client doesn’t buy in.
Therefore, the question is this: How do you avoid information-overload from Cannes’ campaigns and sessions, internalize the lessons of the festival, and provide real value to your clients (whatever their budgets) after the festival concludes?
The answer: Be solution-oriented.
Let’s face it – much of communications and marketing is not glamorous in the way that our Instagram photos may indicate. Like most jobs, the vast majority of what the role requires does not receive recognition beyond the walls of your and the client’s offices. This doesn’t mean that communications and marketing are without value, however. To the contrary, I am convinced that if you consistently come from a position of providing solutions then you’ll end up with happier and more successful clients and colleagues. This is certainly easier said than done, but is something that we should all strive for and could all improve upon.
One could make the assertion that every award-winner at Cannes provided a solution on some level. I, however, want to focus on two campaigns that turned unfortunate events into positive outcomes.
The hit HBO show “Game of Thrones” has used Northern Ireland as the backdrop for some of its scenes. Unfortunately one iconic shooting location (The Dark Hedges) lost some of its famous trees to Storm Gertrude in January 2016. On the surface, this was bad for Tourism Ireland. One of the country’s most popular attractions had just suffered considerable damage, which would likely have an adverse effect on tourism. Instead of dwelling on this potential setback, the team decided to turn the unfortunate event into a positive. The team enlisted world class artisans who transformed the fallen wood into intricately designed doors that portrayed episodes from Game of Thrones Season 6. The doors were then placed in pubs throughout Northern Ireland, which resulted in an entire new conquest for fans to embark on throughout the countryside. The campaign generated a ton of visibility for Northern Ireland, and it is estimated to have brought in an estimated £11,000,000 of revenue.
The Glasgow School of Art suffered a catastrophic fire, which destroyed its Charles Rennie Mackintosh library. Not to wallow in self-pity, The Glasgow School of Art Development Trust in partnership with J. Walter Thompson London enlisted 25 renowned artists to turn the ashes from the fire into distinctive pieces. The artwork has already raised more than £700,000 for the efforts to rebuild the library and has drawn broader awareness to the importance of art preservation and funding.
Both of these Cannes winners serve as examples for what happens when a team turns a negative into a positive. This tells us that we should be solution-oriented and opportunistic no matter how potentially devastating a challenge may appear. This approach shouldn’t just be applied to the moonshot ideas, but to our daily work.