I always like to treat the annual pilgrimage to the South of France as something of a fact-finding mission. Operation Gold Lion, if you will. Strip away all of the posturing and the partying and the event is a fantastic chance to find out what state our industry is really in.
Cannes has always been a festival of two halves. There’s the Palais, with thousands of eyes and ears trained on the wise. And then there’s life on the Croisette – thousands of eyes and ears incapable of focusing on anything. The Palais awards gold for creativity. And the Croisette takes gold away faster and faster as the night progresses.
Both will offer you a slightly different insight – with the Croisette often the more honest. However, more often than not, confusion reigns. Too many mixed messages. What we need is a straightforward point of view, a kind of State of the Union address.
Well, maybe this year, my prayers have been answered. Bill Clinton – the one with the sax appeal – is following in the illustrious footsteps of Kofi Annan, Al Gore and, ahem, James Murdoch by addressing the Cannes Lions crowd. I’m unconvinced. What we need is an industry maverick up there. A yearly round-up to set the heart racing and the record straight.
Good luck Bill. Money and aforementioned saxophone prowess aside, I don’t envy him. I was once asked to speak at Cannes during a series of lectures about storytelling, and I have to say, the view across the auditorium is pretty daunting – especially when you’re standing next to Jean Reneau, who’s just set off the fire alarm by smoking in a non-smoking area, and whose two-line introduction is funnier than your speech.
Sadly this year I won’t be following the throngs down to Nice – too busy darling – but that doesn’t mean I can’t get all revved up by what’s on offer. Word on the street is that a little old lady from South of the border is going to steal the honors. But then again, you can’t put your money on a Zombie, as Rick Grimes knows only too well.
But Cannes has always been about more than the big winners. What interests me is the Inspiration Room's comment from Leo Burnett: Narrative Twists are back in. Campaigns that build on storytelling, capture and hold an audience’s imagination are tops. You might be working on digital, social media or traditional mediums, it doesn’t matter – we all love stories. It’s like Andrew Stanton said in his fantastic TED lecture: stories confirm who we are, they give our lives meaning and whether we’re looking for affirmation or just a good creative idea you can’t beat a good old fashioned piece of narrative. Something that some of my favourites have on offer.
Take a look at Canal +‘Bear’, work from John Lewis and the Guardian’s ‘Three Little Pigs’. Who couldn’t love them? I could have watched a whole brand drama based on the exploits of the supposed impoverished pigs. Same goes for father, son and the power of Weetabix. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Zombie Granny, and I’m sure the judges will too, but didn’t anyone think she was a franchise rather than a one off? A good idea these days needs to give audiences more. It needs to be truly 360.
So will narrative be the story of Cannes or will the one-off Zombie Granny prevail? I guess I could wait for Bill to enlighten me. Or you could let me know. Keep me in the loop by tweeting me @carlprechezer – I’m particularly keen to see how my Fiat ad gets on. See you on the other side.