A WARM AND WELCOMING WINTOUR IN CANNES
Anna Wintour and Christopher Bailey were on the main stage an hour ahead of Will Smith. I was in the queue to get a good seat an hour before Anna and Chris hit the stage.
I knew these two fashion leaders would have some nuggets of brilliance but I never expected the volume they actually delivered. Well, Anna delivered.
Chris was there to introduce Anna and his 15 minutes became a little bit of an ode to her career and accomplishments. It felt like se had to come out and now deliver on even more than expected. And she did.
There were so many sound bites in her humble speech, as she stood at the podium jokingly stating she will not be charismaticaly pacing the stage as requested, but instead standing and reading with the potential for arm little movement.
A key quote to get out of the way, remembering this is a woman who has dedicated her life to one of the most iconic magazines in the world and still achieving great success and relevance as media becomes digital:
“Digital advancement not a barrier to overcome but an opportunity”
Those simple words, think back to how many conversations you have had professionally with internal colleagues or clients where ‘digital’ is indeed set up as a barrier to over. Rather than an exciting new opportunity to invest in and do well. Often even the most enthusiastic of people or projects is started with a ‘how the hell are we going to tackle this’ rather than ‘I can’t believe we are getting to do this’
Next thing, in my notes that hit a nerve and needed no extra bullet points:
“Influence is a consequence of brilliance”
With so much talk about influencer marketing, the use of influencers, the impact of celebrity vs online influencers — that short quote says a lot. The often overlooked key fact means getting past simple reach and popularity as we should be reviewing, learning and understanding the brilliance of these people. That might be their unique creative angle/style or it could be their dedication. All too often we look at thesuperficial numbers and their popularity level, we don’t appreciate the time, effort and consistency these people deliver their work with. So, be more brilliant but also find and appreciates others brilliance.
Anna also touched on ‘sincerity over size’ again, sincerity is a deeper more meaningful connection. Less superficial and only looking at he numbers.
Turns out this post is going to be a string of Anna quotes and what they meant to me, wasn’t the plan but on we go:
“Creativity is thinking about the lives of audiences”
As a Cannes first-timer I can’t judge the conversations of the past, but the above was not only a key point from Anna but audience first! was a common theme throughout many of the talks. It’s strange when you have to reiterate, ‘think about the audience’ ‘make it relevant to your audience’ ‘understand your audience’ but I guess all too often we all get carried away making our perfect artistic vision of what we want to see. So, simple advise there is stop it. Make it for them not you.
‘Stay nimble make mistakes’
yes, the always perfectly turned out fashion icon still agrees that mistakes happen, you need them to happen to learn and you need to be nimble.
So, all of that from Anna and she hadn’t even got to here 4 guiding lessons she wanted the audience to take away:
1. Aim higher
There was a common theme of a big luxury icon who love crafted and polished work — competing in a high paced listicle short form world.
People are distracted as a result of all that content, as a result too many have given up on digital for ambitious work — they have chased the short-form volume. That work takes less time, less effort, and can be less polished. But then whilst contributing to that volume we wonder why audiences distracted.
Anna went on to explain the Vogue and Conde Nast ambitions — immediate interest with lasting interest. Stating that effort and attention will pay off.
2. Dare to be different
Push the creative boundaries, constant pressures, the market always wants a little more. Some examples:
Beyoncé, Lemonade: creating an album which is a visual spectacle and setting a new standard.
Michael Finkle, Last true hermit: An article on GQ that became a book and documentary film.
Wired, editorial structure: shifting from a divided hierarchical office based online and long form teams out in the field which meant a lot of wasted time and effort. To instead publishing whilst working in the field — telling the story as it builds. The small pieces drive excitement about the full story in the making, by the time they publish they have a pre-assembled audience.
“Don’t be scared to explain why. People care about the back story and how you got there”
Again, why do these work? Because they think about the audiences. They want to feel like they found something special, just to the side of normal.
Also, those behind the content live a similar value and mantra — “I don’t want to play the game, I want to redefine it”
3. Use all your goals
Aim high, stay focused. Vogue knew where they wanted to be. They had to make sure they knew how to get there.
Anna learned from when they were hacked and their exclusive cover photos of Zayn and Gigi were leaked across the internet.
Vogue were forced to share something they would have kept for themselves and it worked for them becoming one of the most popular pieces of all time.
4. Make interesting friends
Another key point for me from experience. People spend so much time in their own offices, with their own brands or own company. This is going to blinker you, your understanding and beliefs in what is right, wrong, good or bad. I have seen and experienced it a lot working across different agencies — Digital, Advertising, Media and PR — all thinking their discipline is more right, robust, best placed than any of the others.
It’s an atomized world, and people crave connections. The more connections, interesting people, other offices, ways of workings the better you will be at what you do.
Ryan Seacrest has gone from success to success in the states, yet he says true to his routes by doing a weekly radio show, he doesn’t want to leave the foundation of where he started and the audience he speaks to or else he lose the edge.
“Interaction with people on a daily basis makes you better.”
Finally, she expressed how we can get too obsessed with moving upwards in our careers and ambitions, but we grow into moving forward.
And I like that simple notion, do more of what you love — you may get paid more moving up, but you’ll probably be happier in the long terms making sure you are moving forward. And if Anna Wintour says that’s OK, it’s OK.