Cannes Lions 2017 — The Download from 3 Industry Leaders

In the lead-up to our CS Mini Cannes event in 2 weeks, we asked 3 of our speakers to tell us what they thought of Cannes this year, namely Elizabeth Cherian (EC), Director, The Innovation Group @ JWT, Johnny Vulkan (JV), Founding Partner @ Anomaly and Shahnaz Ahmed (SA), Senior Graphic Designer @ Livity / Founder & Director @ Knit Aid & See It Be It participant @ Cannes Lions.

Sum up Cannes Lions in 140 characters

EC: Lion-shaped idols deliver stardom for some. For the few who actually hold passes, the golden opportunity is in the festival presentations

JV: An increasingly ambitious creative endeavor that is still a work in progress

SA: Cannes Lions See It Be It has been eye-opening, life-changing, tribe-forming. Learning to be my most fearless, empathetic, authentic self.

Which talks inspired you the most?


Disruption by Design: Creating the Next Agency” presented by R/GA founder, chairman, and CEO Bob Greenberg, global chief creative officer Nick Law, chief strategy officer Barry Wacksman and senior vice president of consulting Saneel Radia.

The advertising industry is in flux, and the long-time business model is under threat. R/GA outlines a new way forward, which sees agencies transforming themselves into innovation consultancies.

Future Five: Insights into the Hearts and Minds of Tomorrow’s Young Women” at Lions Entertainment by Lisa Sugar of POPSUGAR

Generation Z superstar Khloe Kares has dedicated herself to serving her community and she’s not even 11 years old. She’s distributing hand-sewn “Kare Bags” of donated items to homeless people, and travelled to Africa to inspire other young women to make a difference. We all need to be more like Khloe.


I really enjoyed the talk with Sheryl Sandberg and Jonathan Mildenhall which was about the role of mobile in community building. As someone who has just moved back to Europe after 18 years in New York it was a good reminder about the importance of pace and ambition if you are going to achieve anything profound. Europe is spoiled for craft skills and often can out do their American peers in that space, but there is less pace and sometimes that speed to adapt to change is more important.


Seeing is Believing: The Power of Re-picturing Stereotypes’. A panel with: Piera Gelardi, Co Founder and ECD of Refinery29, Lena Waithe, Actor, Producer, Screenwriter, Braden Summers, Photographer and Campbell Addy, Photographer.

There’s been a lot of talk about diversity in our industry but it’s often around gender diversity. There were a few talks touching on the true meaning of diversity at Cannes Lions — what it means for concepts of gender, race, LGBTQ, religion and disabilities, and the fact that they can all be intersectional — and this one was one of them. The importance of including this in our work means that there is true representation of our audience and what that means for society as a whole. Being truly diverse with our work is not only good for business, it’s a social and moral imperative. This talk inspired me the most because diversity in its truest sense means that no one is left out, and it’s a step closer to a more equal world.

Which picture / video / link sums up this year’s Cannes for you?


The image from the Absolut x Khuli Chana collaboration, presented at the Entertainment Lions talk, “Tapping the Source — Africa’s Emerging Creative Revolution”. Not only is it an awesome example of tapping contemporary culture to make a long standing brand more relevant, but it epitomizes the feeling of many who believe the Cannes organizers are setting too high a price for the event.


‘the instagraming of the Snapchat Ferris Wheel’


For me, it’s my fellow See It Be It women. Here’s a pic of us meeting and being inspired by talks by the wonderful Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

Tell us about 2 key trends you will be taking back to your team


1: As Creative as Hollywood: the 30 s ad is dead — It’s all about bumper ads or longer-format content

2: Mutating Creativity — the new creative minds to watch flex across a broad range of disciplines (see Studio Moross or Shane Small as examples). Teams need to recruit less experts and more creative chameleons, and be brave in their experimentation.


1:Data is becoming a more mature discussion. It’s not just about volume of data but the nuanced stories and insights it can give us.

2: I also think AR (vs VR) is going to have a big 12 months, probably following the new iPhone launch. I expect to see more utilities than comms though but of course some of those utilities and services will be branded or benefit or extend the service of a brand.


1: “Self-esteem comes from doing esteem-able acts.” Madonna Badger, Founder and COO, Badger & Winters (Ambassador of See It Be It 2017)

2: “Be fearless: The fear center inside our brains is this size of an almond and you’d have to be nuts to let an almond run the show.” Kathleen Griffith, Founder Grayce & Co

What was your favourite piece of work?


Handle with Care by Grey New York for Gillette


I really like Whirlpools project that put washing machines in schools and showed how it improved the attendance and performance of poorer kids who previously weren’t attending as they didn’t have clean clothes to wear. They used data to prove the case and the initiative is now being rolled out nationally.


The Humanium Metal Initiative by Akestam Holks and Great Worksl, Stockholm — Gold Lion for Innovation

Converting illegal firearms into valouable metal that can be used in a variety of social projects to improve the world. I loved the concept of taking an object that harms (gun violence results in 1500 deaths a day) and modifying the actual material to do good, including creating new sources of funding for victims and projects aiming to rebuild conflict-torn societies.

What was your favourite quote from the festival?


“Voice is happening right now and skyrocketing everything”, Bill Bien of Philips at IBM iX

JV: Quote is an anonymous one ‘overheard on the Croisette’

“…apparently the organizers are moving away from a reliance on advertising”


I have SO MANY incredible quotes from the festival, and the See It Be It programme, but I’ve chosen the one that has stayed with me the longest. Piera’s quote on how we should position the idea of diversity, and be aware of and shift our unconscious bias:

“Inclusion is not about: You can sit with us. It’s about: You already have a seat at the table” Piera Gelardi, Co Founder and ECD of Refinery29

What made you mad at Cannes this year?

EC: The heat!


Nothing made me mad but I was actually disappointed that Fearless Girl won so much. Awards send signals and Fearless Girl is confusing for me. I understand it was first presented to another client before the current one was approached. Secondly no one I talked to could tell you who the client was. Yes, it’s an interesting piece of social commentary and art but i think it’s a idea looking for a sponsor rather than an answer to someone’s marketing problem. It didn’t surprise me that it won but I think it’s the kind of thing that makes clients suspicious as it’s more about an award and the agency than it was about solving marketing problems.

As Cannes broadens its remit to embrace wider creativity maybe it’s a worthy winner but if we are still thinking of the narrower creative business definition I think it’s not ideal.


The huge Snapchat wheel — What was it’s purpose and could the money have been spent better to do something more meaningful, apart from just being a brand awareness piece?

If you could have awarded a Grand Prix for Creative Bravery who would it have gone to?


The Maltesers ad featuring deaf and disabled actors by Mars Chocolate UK

JV: All the student attendees who were first in line for every talk. Cannes is expensive and hard to navigate on a budget and yet every talk I attended the students were the first 20 or 30 people in the line. That desire to learn, fill themselves with knowledge and debate the topics our industry cares about is what we’ll need in the years to come. The student endeavor is the brave act, more so then any work. We should still feel that we are all learning. I consider Anomaly at 13 to be a young company but since we started we’ve seen Facebook, iPhones, Twitter, Snapchat etc etc, which shows we all need to stay open minded and willing to learn.


The Swedish Tourist Council ‘ The Swedish Tourist Board’

Opening up a telephone number for an entire country could be pure genius or pure stupidity, but Sweden led with its best asset: connecting the world to its people. It shows risk and bravery (how many instances could this have gone so badly wrong if it was most other countries?) and as a result created enough buzz to make Sweden a must-visit destination.

If you want to hear more on inspiration, learnings and trends from Elizabeth, Johnny, Shahnaz along with our fantastic line up of speakers, come along to CS Mini Cannes at Twitter on the 19th July. It’s always a sell out so make sure you grab your tickets quick HERE.

Big thanks to our partners on CS Mini Cannes

Shutterstock, a global technology company, has created the largest and most vibrant two-sided marketplace for creative professionals to license content — including images, videos and music — as well as innovative tools that power the creative process.

Because Source LF are all about Connected People, Connecting People, Creative Social is the perfect event to sponsor as people can network whilst benefiting from leading industry knowledge. We are sorry that other recruiters are not able to attend this session.

Venue partner: Twitter — Your live connection to culture

Like what you read? Give Creative Social a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.