The week of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is always special for me.
Lots of fantastic things happened in my career related to Cannes. The first year that I went was 2001.
That year, I deployed a newsletter from Cannes every day – at a time when it wasn’t easy to deploy a newsletter. Sending the newsletter required sneaking into an internet café with my clunky 250MB hard drive, discreetly putting software onto the internet café’s hard drive, then uploading all the photos I had taken that day to send to my team back home who would then deploy a newsletter to the entire creative community – also known as my database. As far as I know, I was the first person to do this. Certainly the first recruiter. Now everyone can do it from their phone. It’s not nearly as exciting as it was then.
It was a turning point in my career as a recruiter.
People figured if I cared enough about the work and creativity to invest and go, then I couldn’t be ALL bad.
Six years later, BLACK BAG (my former recruiting business) and I became the first Canadian to host a Cannes seminar: Diary of a Creative Director. On June 20th, 2007 Marcello Serpa, Tony Granger, Erik Vervroegen and I talked about what they believe contributed to their resounding success as creative people. Standing room only. I was afraid no one would show up. Over 1000 people did, filling the Dubussy Theatre, ranking third in seminar attendance after Al Gore and Saatchi’s Young Director’s Showcase. I can take third place to Al Gore any time.
I went a total of 9 times, I watched a lot of commercials, I met a lot of people that I am still in touch with. No one sent me, no one expense reported me. Every time I went I paid. I’m a big fan of investing in your own education. So I went. What changed every year was the work, what won, who won, who was there.
What didn’t change was where the pasta salad was after the gala on Tuesday evening.
What will never change is how you will feel after this week depending on what you’ve been doing with your career in the past year. Let’s talk about that now.
My Cannes Predictions and what will – and in some cases should – happen in your career after this week in Cannes.
Some of you will win big. Lots, often and big.
After that happens you will be inundated with calls. Calls from recruiters. Calls from other agencies. Calls from everyone and anyone who wants to get your pixie dust on them. You will get big offers with big titles for big dough. You will hears lots about ‘turning this place into a creative hot shop’. You will be tempted. Very tempted. You will momentarily forget that you didn’t do this all by yourself. You are but a mere cog. Luckily you are surrounded by many other cogs who think and work and create and enable and inspire and argue with clients and write great briefs and edit the snot out of and write beautiful scores, and all those other things that go into you standing on stage in Cannes.
In a nutshell: Have a career plan. Don’t let it go to your head. Be cool. Be confident and realize it can, and will, happen again if you do the right thing now. Get some expert subjective advice.
Some of you will win.
Not big, but something. Something in Cannes is still something. I believe that short list in Cannes is even something. Because short list is pure play judging. No debating. No trading Cannes votes for work the way we used to trade hockey cards. Just votes in the dark, on a device, no peeking.
You might be winning for the first time, or the umpteenth time. It doesn’t matter. It never gets old. A lot of the things that I mentioned would happen to you above, will also happen to you. And, it’s just as important that you carefully consider this move.
In a nutshell: One Cannes Lion does not a career make. But a bad move after winning a Cannes Lion, can forever send you to The Career Dustbowl, never to be seen, heard from, or given a shit about again.
Some of you will drink too much.
Classic rookie move. I still remember the guy that was so hammered that he couldn’t even say what country he was from clearly. People remember that stuff. Don’t be that guy. Or that girl.
Some of you will go and spend entire days and into the early evenings at screenings.
I like this group the best. No where but Cannes can you watch what is happening all over the world in your category in a three hour span compiled for your educational pleasure and entertainment. There really is nothing like it. Even online. Online you have to click and figure it out. In Cannes you just plonk your butt in a seat and someone else makes it all happen.
This is what Cannes is about for everyone. So much to learn, see and do everyday. You will have information overload. Your brain will probably hurt by Thursday. That’s good. It means you’re doing it right.
You will meet your advertising hero.
You will debate creativity with your advertising hero. You might go for dinner with your advertising hero. This might be the coolest thing about Cannes. One level playing field in Cannes. Everyone is in a great mood. Sunshine, creativity, beaches, Frenchness. It tends to do that to people. People forgive old grudges. People hug and make up. People from the same country who normally trash talk each other, rally round and back slap when someone from the same country wins. It’s great. I wish it could be more like that all the time. Can it? Or is the trash talking part of what makes us push ourselves to our best. I don’t know. Do you?
Some of you will be sent to Cannes by your deadbeat agency to distract you from the fact that you’re at a deadbeat agency.
Please find the courage and the moxy to do something about it this year. You will be SO much happier, and fulfilled. Happy, smiling, fulfilled creative people are a joy. Sad ones? Not good. Be the former by next June. It’s doable. Promise.
Some of you will win nothing. Again.
That’s no fun. It’s time to take stock. What are you doing? Why aren’t you making a move? How much longer are you willing to wait and sit it out while your buddies are up there in their linen deconstructed Euro fab fashion, smiling, hugging, holding shiny Lions, and you sit on the third balcony and clap. Cannes is a great place to be if your career is on the right track. It’s an awful place to be if you’re wasting time. It’s not about the judges, or the scam ads, or any of the distractions. Cannes never lies.
Don’t ignore this anymore.
Do something about it.
Whatever IT is.
Your creative department.
One, or all of the above.
Figure it out, make a place, then fix it.
In a nutshell: If you need help with any of the above – whether you’re an agency or someone that works in one, call me.
Let’s do this together.
P.S. Wear sunscreen.