Divergent Perspectives from Cannes: The Judge and the Past Winner

young lions posterOh, To Be Young Again: What I Learned From the Young Marketers
By Barri Rafferty

A friend called Cannes Lions an octopus, and maybe she was right. It has tentacles that reach across networks, provide inspiration, bestow awards, provide opportunities to entertain clients, urge you to learn as much as you can, help you cut deals, and dazzle you with content on and off the stages. I’m sure I’ve also missed a few.

The young professionals who come here focus on learning and being inspired creatively. I watch them plan their days at the Palais and dig into the work while I flit from meeting to meeting, hoping to catch a few talks each day. After some of the sessions, I listen to the young pros and wish that I could recapture the special enthusiasm that comes with being at the beginning of your career.

As I look at Cannes through their eyes, they inspire me to discover something interesting or new in every meeting or session (click to tweet). To be acutely observant of my surroundings and the trends taking place. (Technology, technology, technology.) To be more appreciative of the beautiful surroundings we are meeting in.

I had the honor of welcoming the 18 teams from companies across the world competing at this year’s Cannes Lions Young Marketers competition. I saw their excitement and the nervousness in their eyes.

I coached them to breathe and try to enjoy it, yet I also told them I participated in a similar contest when I was at their career stage, and I remember the adrenaline rushing through me as the case was revealed. As WaterAid Head of Communications Chris Wainwright walked them through his organization’s challenge, he gave them permission to think broadly and take creative risks to help solve a crisis in our world. A noble cause they could help through their corporate affiliations to make the world a better place. An assignment where I am truly hopeful that the ideas will be so break through that WaterAid will execute one and make their dream even more of a reality.

As our P&G client, Marc Pritchard, said at an Economist “Wake Up Cannes” event, “The greatest obstacle to creativity is the client.” I shared with the contestants that this is one of the reasons Ketchum sponsors this event. Our goal is to help them become better clients by having the courage to green-light creative ideas, and the discipline to develop more meaningful briefs that lead to better results.

As each team planned their strategy to approaching the 48 hours to come, I took off to ride the tentacles of the octopus. Our Cannes stories may differ, but we will all be enlightened by this experience and raise our awareness of the marketing possibilities ahead.


 

francisca young lionThe Lion That Changed My Life
By Francisca Oliveira

Three years ago, I won gold in the Young Lions Competition in Cannes, and it was a milestone in my life. Not so much because of the little Lion – which I still preserve with an enormous pride – but mostly because of how it has influenced my way of thinking and the type of person I want to be.

Three years ago, I lived in a country (Portugal) plunged into a deep economic crisis. A lot of young people didn’t have a job, and, despite having a job, my prospects were not very attractive.

When I landed in Cannes, I immediately felt overwhelmed. Passing between the placards displaying that year’s brilliant shortlists made me feel tiny, and the amount of real role models that went up and down the Palais’ stairs made me feel that everything there was too enormous for me.

The briefing for the competition was given to us on a Wednesday morning, and the 48 hours that followed were indescribable. Pure adrenaline resulting from a strong desire to create something that could live up to that iconic place was accompanied by the brutal lack of self-confidence typical of my age and lack of experience. My teammate and I hardly slept. Every two hours we questioned the path we were following, the idea that we had and the way we wanted to present it. Until the last moment, we thought about starting all over again. Everyone had great presentations, and we only had a stupidly simple idea and two images.

With absolutely no certainties, we decided we would stick to our original instincts and kept everything as simple as we could. Shaking, we presented our idea in a few short minutes and went straight to the beach for a swim.

Returning from the beach a few hours later, with minimum expectations, we listened to the jury’s decision. I could not believe it when I heard the words “Gold” and “Portugal” in the same sentence. That could not be possible. People don’t even know where my country is. And yet the next day, we went up on the stage of the Palais des Festivals.

And those four or five small steps made me climb much higher than a stage. Those stairs gave me all the confidence I needed at the beginning of my professional life. They showed me that I could aspire to be more professionally, that I should ask more for my life, that I can go further than what is expected from me.

The little Lion that I received that day filled me with confidence, security and ambition. It proved to me that opportunities are out there, for everybody (click to tweet).

Barri Rafferty is Ketchum’s former CEO and current head of communications at Wells Fargo.