Isobar Global’s Sue McCuscker: ‘Cannes: Lunch is for wimps’

After a 5 year abstinence from Cannes, I came this year sceptical of how relevant it was to our industry and Clients. But, after a few days of immersing myself in seminars and forums, I believe it is more relevant than ever, and it is worth skipping lunch for.

The Guardian’s session with Oliver Stone, ‘Cannes: Lunch is for wimps’, was aptly entitled. This session ran over lunch, and it was at that point that my Cannes epiphany hit; Cannes is what you make it. Cannes has something for everyone — which is why the question arose. Is it too big? Has it lost its focus? What is Cannes these days and who is it really for?

Simply put, Cannes is a celebration of the new and the outstanding.

However, the overwhelming schedule means that it is easy to go wrong. But with a bit of navigation you can always be inspired.

There are of course times when we hear what we already know. That’s why it is important to not just see sessions that your are interested in, but choose sessions that will stretch you and which may be outside your field. I ran between sessions to catch gurus, trend titles such as Wired and incredible world class talent.

A relatively new addition is the Innovation Lions — a complementary festival focussed on technology. This is a very exciting arena, which is particularly valuable for Clients. Being able to experience new tech, to hear how it is being used and predictions of what’s coming provided plenty of food for thought.

Take the Anna Wintour in conversation with Christoper Bailey session for example. She shared her words of wisdom in ways that were both authentic and sharp. We learned that her relentless pursuit of the new has not only led her to discover and mentor great talent, but it has allowed the magazines she leads to morph into digitally relevant forms that keep her readers loyal. Anna’s business savvy was very clearly apparent as she advised us to ‘use all your gold’, by which she meant to truly understand what our brands’ assets are and what our consumers are interested in.

Likewise, the theme of authenticity, especially in digital, rose again and again. In the digital agency world we know that consumers now demand this from brands. However, the theme was repeated by a very diverse range of outstanding, highly successful talents that we saw on stage: from Anna Wintour to Oliver Stone, Iggy Pop and The Onion, to name a few.

I was lucky enough to catch two Wired sessions, one with our very own Cheyney Robinson, Chief Experience Officer. In both sessions, I walked away with a deeper level of understanding of the positive impact of the technology that we — as a digital agency — talk about everyday. It was not an agency, brand or marketer’s point of view, but a human point of view. My view of that technology was stretched and I found myself leaping ahead to new solutions for our clients businesses and marketing challenges.

Is Cannes relevant? It’s not only relevant, but it is important for agencies and clients alike. It fuels bravery. It makes us challenge the way we work. It encourages us to evolve.

Sue McCusker, Global Client Director, Isobar

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