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DVG @ Cannes Lions

by Jessica O’Callaghan
North America Regional Managing Director

My last day in Cannes was filled with A-list action, starting with none other than one of the most powerful women in fashion and media, Anna Wintour, on the topic of creativity in an age of 24-hour, fast-churning digital production. She described herself as not particularly creative but a “first responder to other people’s creative needs”, and talked about how creativity for her means thinking about the lives of her readers and dazzling them to take them past where they’ve been before. She shared four lessons:

1) Aim Higher – she encouraged making strong cases for “grand ideas and big investments of time and heft” and cautioned that “you cannot cut your way to creativity” (so, no, sometimes cheap and cheerful is NOT the right approach).

2) Dare to be Different – she simply stated that people respond to people who dare to be themselves and not blend in. She cited people from Balenciaga’s new Creative Director, Demna Gvasalia, to James Corden to even Bernie Sanders as great examples.

3) Use all of your Gold – the idea of using of your assets to the max and taking advantage of unexpected twists and turns, not always favorable, to your advantage (she shared the Vogue example of the May cover story leak with Gigi and Zayn which forced them to publish photos for the first time ever online before the release of the issue).

4) Make Interesting Friends – her list is too long to recount. She said, “Success is produced by bouncing up against each other’s ideas to come up with better ones.”

I also saw Will Smith and Usher speak in two different sessions about what it takes to stay relevant in their worlds. Will Smith was a special treat and so entertaining. In listening to him talk about finding that universally relatable emotion in his craft and the importance of telling stories from a “relatable core”, it was clear he’s evolved in his career from winning personally to promoting things he believes in. He said he’s shifted his focus from product to people because he believes people purchase from a connection around values. In the CPG world, these connections can be hard to uncover but are so important. Check out what brand Will’s been quietly (until now) involved in: http://www.justwater.com/.

In the evening, we attended the Cannes Lions Awards recognizing excellence in Outdoor, Creative Effectiveness, PR, Design, Product Design and Digital Craft.  There was so much interesting and inspiring work. I am so proud that our DeVries Global NY team was short-listed in PR for a campaign on behalf of our Krylon client (Sherwin Williams), and we were part of the integrated team that won a gold for Pantene’s #DadDo submission.

It has made us hungry for more Cannes Lions action and inspiration, for sure.

Images left to right: Heidi Hovland and Jessica O'Callaghan at the Cannes Lions Festival, Cannes Lions Awards stage