Select Highlights from Cannes Lions 2017

Sustainability, Storytelling, Spectacles, Subservient Chicken, and Somethin’ Else

Radically Reframing Sustainability at the Dutch Embassy of Creativity

Ger Baron, Chief Technology Officer of the City of Amsterdam talked about creativity for the climate and collaboration for the planet.

Baron asked provocative questions to encourage us to rethink sustainability and to act without borders to address major problems like climate change. Starting with the Cannes Lions festival itself, Baron challenged us to think about what it would mean to go beyond the goal of “zero waste” at such a large international gathering. Could we set goals and take action to optimize the festival to create healthier people, or even become a net generator of energy from harvesting the Mediterranean sun and the movement from all of the people on the go? This radical shift will require circular design and a realignment of incentives.

Buildings are software

Baron also challenged us to rethink of cities as networks and platforms that require cooperation to design and manage. For the Netherlands, this means collaborating to manage the network of dykes that keep the country dry. Much of the country lies below sea level. The national airport, Schiphol, is over 3 meters below sea level. How can the world learn from the Dutch model of collaboration to address sea level rise?

Baron’s radical rethink of sustainability requires a rigorous method of innovation based on clear values, but openness to new methods. This reminds me of the simple (but not easy) recipe for innovation from McKinsey Digital Lab's Indy Saha:


Storytelling and the Untapped Value of Podcast Advertising

Ira Glass gave a talk synthesizing his extensive storytelling experience from This American Life and Serial.

“Stories” are more compelling than “Journalism”

  • A story requires forward momentum, not just “plot”
  • Interview kids because they are less guarded and have them send messages to their future selves
  • Failure is success. Most stories fail, so develop a lot of stories and choose the best.
  • Amuse yourself. Storytelling is fun. Use humor to bring he audience into serious topics.
  • Talk normal. Don’t sound like a “news robot.”
  • Learn from musicals like Hamilton.
  • Leverage the power of your audience not seeing the action. Radio and podcasts are intimate media. “Radio is like a camera always on close up.”

Glass also talked about the untapped potential of podcast advertising, and the influential demographics that such advertising could reach. Some impressive facts and figures:


Snap Spectacles are cool, but will they go mainstream or go the way of Google Glass?


Find Common Cultural Ground to Collaborate Better. Integrate. Take risks. Play. Solve problems.


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Asking Out Loud

Also check out The New School Open Campus’s “Asking Out Loud” podcast, which we recorded live at Cannes Lions in partnership with Somethin’ Else. Each episode explored a different theme from collaboration to failure to design thinking to ethical marketing.