Chemistry at Cannes: Why Age Doesn’t Define Experience
10 years ago, Chemistry became the first and, to this date, still the only Irish agency to win a Gold Lion at Cannes with print campaign, ‘The Power of Press’. A decade on, the agency has accrued global success and multiple awards, including two Gold award wins at the most recent ICADs (Ireland’s leading creative awards) for the Jonah Lomu tribute campaign, ‘Fern’. This year Chemistry has decided to send the young creative and client service team, who were involved in the project, to Cannes – Copywriter, Mark Tuthill, Art Director, Hugh O’Connor, and this year’s ICAD Greenhorn award winner which recognises new talent in Advertising and Design, and Emma Spicer, Senior Account Manager.
Emmet Wright, Creative Director at Chemistry, explains, “We’ve always looked to Cannes as a benchmark of what we should be working towards. The thoughts behind sending Mark, Hugh and Emma, this year, is that they were not only directly involved with the ‘Fern’ campaign we’ve entered but have come from a generation who have grown up with a culture of knowledge sharing. Traditionally, people used to be quite guarded about certain aspects of who and what they knew but these guys are used to open networking and open platforms. We feel there’s a lot to be gained from sending a younger generation with a fresh outlook.”
From Left to Right: Hugh, Emma and Mark
Recently there has been much conversation from senior
industry professionals on the value of sending different members of staff to
Cannes. With budgets squeezing everyone wants to maximise on the investment
they make when sending staff to the French Riviera. “The thing about it is,” adds Emmet, “is that
in such a fast moving industry, ‘experience’ can mean anything. It’s not
defined by the number of years you’ve worked in the business anymore and that
shouldn’t define who attends events like this. We’ve always backed investment
in our young talent and we’re certain Mark, Emma and Hugh will be coming back
here with a wealth of knowledge and a fresh perspective for both us and our
Navigating Cannes and finding the talks and sessions which are worth seeing is often considered a skill of Cannes veterans. To approach the festival first time can be a daunting prospect. Mark, Hugh and Emma, are keen to seek out the most impactful conversations on La Croisette.
“The biggest challenge for us will most certainly be choosing wisely what we go to see,” says Senior Account Manager, Emma Spicer. “Ultimately, we’re there for the agency and want to absorb as much as possible, assimilate it and take it back to our colleagues and clients. We’re thinking about how best to divide and conquer or when might be best to stick together! Our plan is to book at least three or four meetings and sessions a day but also try to scope out new and exciting conversations - people and events in between - that might not be on the schedule.”
So what conversations are young creatives most eager to get involved with? Considering the work they have entered to the festival – the Irish Examiner’s iconic print tribute to Jonah Lomu - Copywriter Mark Tuthill describes what is top of his list: “Particularly resonant with us are talks on storytelling. There are a few I’m very eager to see, including one on how to make engaging stories that transcend languages and another on how to work with the paradox of storytelling and fragmented content.”
The ‘Fern’ campaign for the Irish examiner saw the team at Chemistry create a powerful and descriptive message to emanate the world’s grief at the passing of the New Zealand Rugby star.
On how they approached the project, Art Director, Hugh O’Connor says, “We looked at what image would depict the sense of loss but also convey his relationship to rugby and his national team. Losing a frond from the fern seemed appropriate, and the black and white was a natural palette to incorporate the iconic All Black team colours as well as that of mourning. We incorporated 23 fronds to mirror the number of players on an international rugby squad.”
“It was a really quick turnaround,” adds Emma. “We had to be reactive. We had a mid-morning call from Tim Vaughan, the editor at the Irish Examiner, to brief us on a tribute press ad. When Tim saw the tribute, he was so moved by the image that he decided to place it on the front page the following day. The Irish Examiner has a reputation for its sports coverage and rugby is particularly big in Ireland. The loss was felt hard here. We never expected the image to go as far as it did but it went viral, trending worldwide and was used in so many different applications across the world. Because ourselves and the Irish Examiner agreed to assign all rights to the trust set up by the New Zealand Rugby Players Association, that means that the image can be used to raise funds to benefit Lomu’s two children.”
“This project was all about telling a story with just one image, which is why we’ll be so interested to get involved with those conversations,” explains Mark, “but we’re equally as excited to hear from the brands next week. We don’t often get many opportunities to hear directly from them in a speaker-listener setting. It seems that many are discussing how they’re supporting creativity and authentic stories, so we can’t wait to see what comes out of that. Again, we’re trying to choose wisely… and not get drawn in by the dazzling celebrity names!”
With hopes high for their work, the team set out for the festival on Sunday. Hugh concludes: “We’re optimistic. We’re really proud of the work we’ve done and hope that it gets recognised the same way that millions of people around the world recognised it. We’re very privileged to be attending. If anyone has any other first-timer tips, we’d love you to send them our way!”
Genre: People , Print , Strategy/Insight