Huskies' Young Lions Talk Cannes Lions Festival
As the dust settles on this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, In The Company Of Huskies' Young Lions Emily Blaney and Niamh Ryan reflect back on their experiences at the festival and their key takeaways.
Q> What were your expectations of Cannes?
Emily> From speaking to my colleagues who had been to Cannes before, I had an idea of what to expect. However, it far exceeded those expectations. The whole festival is so well organised, it’s almost overwhelming how many brilliant speakers and events there are taking place. Throughout the week there’s a potent atmosphere and sense of celebration.
Niamh> I expected beaches, rosé, sunshine, stimulating conversation and inspiring talks. The most creative minds in the world sharing their work, their insights and creative processes, with great food, fun parties, interesting people and new connections. Cannes was everything I expected and so much more.
Q> What was your schedule like for the week?
Emily> Overall our schedule was very busy. The Young Lions print competition took place at the beginning of the week. We submitted our ad on Monday evening and by Tuesday afternoon we had already found out who the winning teams were. Working to such a tight deadline was very challenging but overall this was an amazing learning experience.
Niamh> With the festival having so many inspirational speakers and events, we lived in a constant state of FOMO (fear of missing out). We spent hours checking out the amazing work, attending as many talks as we could during the day and as many parties as we could at night. The IAPI team and the other Irish entrants meant we always had a great group to explore with.
Q> Were there any particular workshops or events you enjoyed?
Emily> I really enjoyed a talk by BBDO President and CEO, Andrew Robertson. The talk was called 'Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Advertising', and was about how creativity and emotional content will always be king.
He spoke about how the power of creativity comes from the different chemical reactions in the brain. He used the example of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that he claims people are addicted to. He best described it as the way you feel when you get likes on social media. He also spoke about oxytocin which is the molecule of trust and belonging. Robertson gave some examples of BBDO ads which have successfully used this approach.
If we can better understand the chemicals we want to evoke in our audience’s brain, then we are more likely to create the right mix of communications to achieve this.
Robertson on stage
Niamh> There were so many great talks, but I really enjoyed Akestam Holst's talk about the work they do with IKEA. They spoke about re-inventing authentic storytelling and how the way forward in advertising is to un-fake it and to start telling stories you don’t expect to see from big brands. Their ads touched on issues such as divorce, dementia, and teenage angst. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
I also really enjoyed the KFC Wieden+Kennedy presentation ‘How a Chicken Salesman Predicted the Future of Modern Media’. The talk gave so much insight into how a fresh approach in the creative process managed to inject the KFC brand into modern culture in an authentic way. Also they fed us fried chicken and rosé, always a plus.
Q> Did your experience at Huskies prepare you for the event?
Emily> In order to prepare for Cannes, we were given practice briefs. The rule of Cannes is that you only have 24 hours to create your ad, so it was really important we practised working to such a tight deadline.
Huskies were really supportive. They gave us allocated time when we needed to complete our practice runs. We also had a couple of hours each week to work on shorter briefs or research previous winners. Two of the judges who judged us at a national level were kind enough to send us on two practice briefs which also gave us a really good run.
Niamh> The best piece of advice we were given in the run up to Cannes was from Damian Hanley, our creative director. He told us to immerse ourselves in everything in life, immerse ourselves in culture. Soak up as much information as possible and your ideas will have a deep well to be inspired from. He also told us to spend the week being a little bit obsessed with advertising and also to pay a visit the Gutter Bar, so we did both.
Q> Do you have any takeaways from your time at Cannes?
Emily> I took so many great things away from Cannes that it’s hard to choose. But as a young creative, I really liked the talk 'Chief Creatives on the Beach'. During this discussion one of the things the creatives spoke about was how to stay inspired by the world. They said in order to keep your excitement for creativity you need to look outside the office. Look at history books, art, listen to podcasts etc and stay creatively curious.
Niamh> I have learned that creativity is a state of being. This is not a 9 to 5 job. We are constantly thinking of the next big idea.
I also learned how much the advertising industry is currently changing. We need to create more relevant, engaging and inspiring work that resonates with people, not consumers. The Cannes International Festival of Creativity is certainly that, it is a celebration of creativity and is such an inspiring and amazing experience to be part of. We will spend the next year focusing on working to get back to the Palais and all the frozé.