Cannes Memories and Predictions From 10 of the World’s Top Creatives

Tales from the Croisette

• David Lubars
Worldwide chief creative officer, North American chairman, BBDO

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
BMW Films, but not because I was one of its creators. I like it because it broke open the festival to embrace the new and scary and uncategorizable. In fact, Dan Wieden invented the Titanium to recognize it. Before BMW Films, Cannes and the other important shows were fairly narrow whereas now they’ve been liberated; they’re wide open to anything. That’s what a creative festival should be about.

Should do well this year:
“The Epic Split” Van Damme film for Volvo Trucks. Fantastic.

What I love about Cannes:
That the cement never hardens on the show. It’s always liquid, always reinventing itself, always pushing into new areas.

What I hate about Cannes:
I can’t think of anything … Maybe one thing I don’t respect is people who live off the fumes of a Lion they won 10 years ago. The people I hold in the highest regard do it every year.

Favorite Cannes moment:
When our Mars client was named Marketer of the Year. It’s my goal to have our other clients recognized similarly.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
Same place for all three: in my head, going crazy over all the brilliant things we’re competing with.

Tham Khai Meng
Worldwide chief creative officer, Ogilvy & Mather

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches.” It empowered women, and it moved them emotionally for the right reasons. It touched them deeply and articulated a genuine human truth that people are more beautiful than they think they are. It’s an idea that lives on. I was proud to be associated with it.

Should do well this year:
The British Airways “Magic of Flying” digital billboard. When I first saw it, I felt a tingle because I knew something had changed. I knew I was witnessing a new chapter—the future of billboard technology. This was Outdoor 2.0. It was simple, charming and made me smile. We can do wonderful things, and we must. If we don’t, it will be unforgivable.

What I love about Cannes:
I like the way Cannes showcases, measures and celebrates creativity. It raises the game for the industry. I also like how emotionally reassuring it is. If you lose, you can blame it on the judges being unfair. But if you win, it’s all due to your talent and hard work! Nice, eh?

What I hate about Cannes:
At some restaurants in the world, you have to be careful because they pad the bill with bread rolls you never ordered. In Cannes, they sometimes accidentally add a bottle of Château Margaux.

Favorite Cannes moment:
I enjoy seeing the winning work and watching the films, and being on Joe Pytka’s classic schooner, Altair. For a moment you can imagine Grace Kelly and Cary Grant are about to sail past.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
If I’m judging, you’d find me at all three times locked away in a dark basement, turning slowly translucent like one of those deep-sea creatures you see through the window of a diving bell. Otherwise, you know, walking along the beach carrying a tumbler of Southern Comfort, pursued by a shaggy dog, looking cool like the star of a TV commercial.

Susan Credle
U.S. chief creative officer, Leo Burnett

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
Honda “Grrr.” I learned so much from watching it play to an international audience in the Palais. First, we are more alike than we are different. “Hate something to make something better” is a very human thought. And human thoughts work even if you are selling something as niche as a diesel engine. While still a traditional TV spot, it also foreshadowed what we now call “branded content.”

Should do well this year:
There is an ad gaining some momentum in shows that has surprised me in a positive way: “Misunderstood” by Apple. Is it about a beautiful gift from a talented young teen or a sad commentary on how we engage with the world? Either way, it elicits all sorts of emotions from all sorts of people. I applaud the team who surely knew it would be beautifully controversial and decided to make it anyway.

What I love about Cannes:
It’s the fanciest family reunion I’ve ever been to. It is surreal every year for me to walk down the Croisette and simply say, “Hi, how are you doing? It’s been a while. What are you working on these days? Want to grab a coffee and catch up?”

What I hate about Cannes:
We all go to Cannes under the guise of having our creative souls inspired. Often, as the winners are announced throughout the week, it becomes a place where many of those creative souls are crushed.

Favorite Cannes moment:
My very first day in Cannes, specifically the Sunday night before the week really kicked in. I was invited by Jerry Shereshewsky to an intimate dinner party in the hills of Super Cannes. I read the guest list and knew almost everyone invited to the dinner. The frightening part was not one of them knew me. I’m happy to say that, today, I still am friends with more than a few of the people I met that evening.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning?
If I am up, which is a big if, I’m grabbing a perfect latte from the little cafe on Rue du Commandant André.

Where after midnight?
Hopefully, standing with Matt Miller and his Balthazar-sized bottle of Domaines Ott at the Carlton discussing the wisdom of avoiding the Gutter Bar.

Amir Kassaei
Worldwide chief creative officer, DDB

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
Apple’s “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” film by Chiat\Day. It is maybe one of the best pieces of copy ever written.

Should do well this year:
There are the usual suspects like “The Epic Split” for Volvo Trucks, which is a great piece of film. But we have seen other amazing pieces of innovative thinking, like DDB New York’s “The Drinkable Book” for Water Is Life or DDB Brazil’s “Hello My Name Means” for Johnson & Johnson Baby.

What I love about Cannes:
The Cannes Lion is still the most prestigious and important award for creativity in our industry. It is a great inspiration in terms of how to put together a conference. And yes, you can have some fun in Cannes, too.

What I hate about Cannes:
I miss the time when I was a young creative attending Cannes. It was much more fun. In my role, it is back-to-back meetings, and I do not like the fact that it’s becoming bigger and bigger every year.

Favorite Cannes moment:
I met my wife first at the festival, but professionally the best moment is still yet to come.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
In the morning and in the evening, you’ll find me in the jury room, as I am the festival’s film president this year. And I’m sure you’ll find me there some nights until midnight, too. Other than that, I’ll be found in some restaurants or bars, watching the World Cup.

Erik Vervroegen
Global creative director, Publicis

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
It is impossible for me to choose only one piece of work. I have been going to Cannes for 28 years, and every year I am terribly jealous of at least 10 pieces of work.

Should do well this year:
I have seen lots of great work this year, and what I notice is that there is more and more great creative work on big accounts and big brands. So I am expecting some big wins from that side: great ideas for big clients.

What I love about Cannes:
Cannes is like an injection of pure creative juice. Everybody comes back with motivation, envy and passion. They feel that everything is possible and are convinced that creativity is the key to success. Everybody is ready to take risks, to be brave, to dare. Unfortunately, the effect of this injection does not last as long as it should.

What I hate about Cannes:
There is nothing I “hate” about Cannes. I am disappointed when some people become obsessed with the awards and do silly things to promote their work or harm others’ work. Sometimes, something that should be a celebration turns into some kind of overly aggressive competition.

Favorite Cannes moment:
When the work you believe in makes it to the shortlist and will compete for an award. Waiting for those shortlists is exciting. I feel very nervous, almost like a student waiting for exam results.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
In the morning, you will find me running on the Croisette. In the evening, probably somewhere with friends. And after midnight, in my bed. I am definitely getting old.

John Mescall
Executive creative director, McCann Erickson, Australia

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
Sony “Balls.” It’s eight years old now, and I still watch it from time to time due to its sheer hypnotic beauty. This is advertising on a higher plane. And I went out and bought a Sony TV precisely because of it. An absolute triumph of emotion over logic.

Should do well this year:
Everyone is going to say Volvo Trucks, and rightly so. I think across categories that one will come home with the most metal. But my personal favorite is “Climate Name Change.” It’s such a wonderfully subversive idea, perfectly written and really well executed.

What I love about Cannes:
The people. And the conversations we share about our industry and our craft. When you talk to people from all over the world, from different cultures and different markets, you learn so much.

What I hate about Cannes:
The Gutter Bar. It’s filthy, feral, overpriced, and it has only one working toilet. So why do I still do it, I wonder?

Favorite Cannes moment:
Last year, when Lee Clow and Dan Wieden both said they wished they did one of my campaigns [“Dumb Ways to Die”]. That was pretty cool.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
In the morning, you would either find me going for a run along the oceanfront or desperately searching for a coffee and some dirty carbs (depending on what happened the night before). Usually, it’s the latter. In the evening, the best party I can get into. I also don’t mind the Carlton Terrace because it’s just so wonderfully, stupidly over the top. Had some good times there. After midnight, hopefully I’m still at one of those awesome parties I got invited to. That’s a hint, by the way.

PJ Pereira
Chief creative officer, Pereira & O’Dell

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
I still bounce between The Independent’s “Litany” and Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the World.” The first is a masterpiece in writing, rhythm [and] art direction. The second is one of those ideas anyone could have had, and just one little group did, and it started the idea that the same campaign can win multiple Grand Prix in the same year.

Should do well this year:
“The Epic Split” for Volvo Trucks seems to be the biggest contender this year. It’s an awesome piece of advertising that would only work in our times, given its length, style, and most of all, the product it sells.

What I love about Cannes:
It usually brings me back angry, wishing I had done a lot of things much better. That’s why I go every year.

What I hate about Cannes:
I don’t like the competition between countries and agencies, and the behind-the-scenes wars it sometimes creates. I like to see it as a competition of work. Everything else is just a big distraction.

Favorite Cannes moment:
Last year, we took a day off with everyone from the agency there after winning the Cyber Grand Prix. We rented a little boat and went to Saint-Tropez. On our way back, they called us to tell us we had won the Film Grand Prix. We were still screaming and opening champagne bottles when the phone rang again. It was from the Branded Content jury organizers, telling us we won the Grand Prix there, too. I started screaming—not a word, just a big “AAAARGH!” I will never forget that moment.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
I am not a party guy. I wake up early, go watch seminars and screenings. Then go have a nice dinner somewhere close, have a couple of beers at the Gutter Bar to see some friends and then go to bed early.
 

Sophia Lindholm
Art director, Forsman & Bodenfors, Sweden
Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
If I must choose one, I think I’ll go with “The Best Job in the World” for Tourism Queensland. I remember thinking it was so easy, clever and brilliant. And of course, we all know how extremely difficult it is to come up with something so simple—an idea that anyone, in advertising or not, can understand and appreciate.

Should do well this year:
I think we will see entertainment being awarded this year in Cannes. I like to think that we in advertising really work in the entertainment business. Now more than ever, we need to start making communication that people want to watch or interact with. Someone once said, What if the commercial was more interesting than the program it is interrupting? I think that’s something worth thinking about, even if we do much more than traditional TV ads today. A campaign that I really liked this year was “Song for Life” by Studio Brussels. It’s about raising awareness for dementia, and it does so in a beautiful way by using music and emotion. I hope it will win something.

What I love about Cannes:
What is there not to like? For a week you get to indulge in advertising and see this year’s best work from all around the world. Then add sun, great people and chilled wine. And on top of that, remember that I am Swedish, and we are not exactly spoiled with nice weather.

What I hate about Cannes:
Nothing.

Favorite Cannes moment:
That would be when we won a Grand Prix for our “MMS” campaign for AMF Pension Funds a couple of years back. Or maybe the party afterwards.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
In the morning, you’ll find me reading a book and having coffee at one of the small coffee shops just in front of the Palais. In the evening, you will probably find me at one of the small restaurants in the old part of town. And after midnight, you’ll of course find me on the Croisette.

Merlee Jayme
Chairman and chief creative officer, DM9 Jayme Syfu, Philippines

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, from “Evolution” to “Sketches.” While other beauty brands have pushed women to be more beautiful—or worse, to want to look like other women—Dove was brave enough to do otherwise. It has empowered women to embrace their own looks and imperfections. I’ve always loved Dove’s positioning of real beauty and how it has proved the richness and longevity of this idea through their amazing campaigns.

Should do well this year:
Volvo Trucks’ “The Epic Split.” It was a clever and wonderful idea to do a product demo with such high entertainment value. That’s why it became a powerful piece of branded content. The casting, the music of Enya and the copy truly displayed the height of craftsmanship. I can watch it over and over again.

What I love about Cannes:
It’s the Olympics for creative minds.

What I hate about Cannes:
The pressure. It’s a reminder that you have to do better year after year.

Favorite Cannes moment:
When our small, humble agency with a low-tech solution won the 2013 Grand Prix in a high-tech category: Mobile.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
Morning: running along the Croisette. Evening: anywhere with a sumptuous platter of fruits de mer and a good cold bottle of rosé. Midnight: having a nightcap in Hotel Martinez, so I can just “crawl” up to my room.

Armin Jochum
Chief creative officer, thjnk, Germany

Favorite ad ever in Cannes:
Adidas’ “Bonded by Blood” for New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team. The first work of its kind that turned a poster into something magical. (My favorite team’s blood was mixed with the printing colors.)

Should do well this year:
Kolle Rebbe’s “The Social Swipe” for Misereor because it brings the latest technology to life in a highly emotional way—and turns a donation poster into an event. Also, “The Epic Split” for Volvo Trucks—70 million people on YouTube can’t be wrong.

What I love about Cannes:
For one week each year, Cannes is the creative epicenter of the universe and has been astounding and amazing me for years. Here I see works that move me—works that have the power to change things.

What I hate about Cannes:
Truly not a single thing. Not even the widely publicized beer prices at the Martinez.

Favorite Cannes moment:
When Jung von Matt was voted Independent Agency of the Year in 2010, and I had the honor of accepting the Lion. My entire family was there.

Where would we find you in Cannes in the morning? In the evening? After midnight?
I’m a Cannes nerd. Breakfast on the Carlton terrace. From 9 in the morning, I’m at the exhibition or workshops in the Palais. It’s a cheeseburger for lunch at the kiosk in front of the Palais before I disappear into the exhibition again. Then straight to the awards ceremony, followed by meeting friends from all over the world for a beer at the Martinez. 

 

Photos: Getty Images and Shutterstock