Creativity thrives and flourishes where there is freedom within constraints.
Some of the best work awarded at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last year sought to innovate the system by hacking it. As president of the Cyber Lions jury, I was delighted by work that tested the boundaries of existing media channels and combined them to form new ideas . Our toolkit for creativity is expanding all the time with new methods by a new breed of creatives at Cannes.
There has never been a better time to make great work. At the same time, there has never been a more challenging time to make great work.
No one is immune from the impact of technology disruptions rippling through the industry. To grasp how fast changes are happening inside the world of advertising, we must look outside of at how quickly consumers are picking up new technologies and how fast they are abandoning brands whose purpose does not align with their own. The best work at Cannes will be the work people share because it says something truthful about themselves and does not feel like advertising.
This evolving environment that breeds innovation will challenge us to step outside our own comfort zones. The Cannes Lions is an important moment in time that signals the accelerated rate of change in our industry.
It was astonishing to see the evolution of work from 2010 when I first judged the Cyber Jury to 2016 when I led the same jury. One great example of “The New Work” emerging is JWT’s The Next Rembrandt, a data-driven idea that won two Grand Prix awards last year, in the Cyber Lions and in the Creative Data Lions. The team saw the enormous potential of the project, and are now exploring ways to apply the technology they created to restore old masterpieces.
Building on The Next Rembrandt, the most interesting new tools that will revolutionize creativity are facets of what has been labelled the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”: platform technologies, machine learning and AI, natural language processing, smart voice assistants, AR and VR.
These tools will provide an unprecedented level of brand intelligence to be harnessed on behalf of customers. While these tools will enable an unprecedented level of creativity, they will challenge current ways of working. Eventually, these sharp tools will make current marketing seem as dull as a flint axe.
These intelligent brand communications are just one part of an overall total customer experience. What clients want from agencies is quickly evolving. And the work brands and agencies do together will fall outside of the current framework. The concept of “The New Work” comes from creative problem solving that isn’t limited and constrained by ingrained ways of thinking and working. Agencies that are built for change will continue to bring effective solutions to client’s business problems, with an eye toward new formats.
Being open to change doesn’t mean just bringing new skillsets and talents into the agency. It means widening the net to recruit more diverse teams, and providing inclusive environments where people from diverse backgrounds can thrive. It means breaking down silos that might prevent future-forward thinking. It will also mean opening up the agency walls to work with startups, tech companies and media partners to help deliver breakthrough work.
This year, I am excited to sit on the Titanium Lions jury, the ultimate recognition for game-changing work. We will be on the hunt for breakthrough ideas that defy categories. The New Work is being done by a new breed of Creatives who innovate, incubate and think outside ad-world norms. They will deliver products, prototypes, and culture-shifting messages that break open standard channels.
The New Creatives are thriving and flourishing, and I look forward to learning from them and celebrating their work at Cannes.