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BW Businessworld

The Year Of Recognising The Collective Might

The advertising industry is showing its together-we-can spirit, and it chose Cannes Lions as the platform to discuss it further

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It is one of those rare inflection points, when technology wants to be human, brands want to sell purpose before product, artificial intelligence (AI) wants to be more emotive and the fraternity wants to give even more of itself to social issues and global challenges. This moment of truth seemed to happen at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018.

Somehow, this year, it was more about a together-we-can spirit. It was a meeting of powerful minds to address some key imperatives. Whether it is the direction business was taking, the battles society was fighting, or the values brands were protecting. We spoke up for gender equality. As a group, we called out biases and championed diversity. And it all segued rather nicely into the packed schedule of high-powered sessions.

Debates and panels revolved around the might of the collective. It was as if we realised that individual greatness and awards aside, we could achieve something superhuman if we rallied around a common vision. The industry seemed to believe it could do the impossible, by being greater than the sum of its parts. It wasn’t about holding companies, network agencies, silos and cliques. It became more about unwavering values, shared goals and seminal moments. The awarded works, including the first ever Sustainable Development Goals category, were emblematic of this new approach to the way we engage with our world. The thunderous applause was as much for the social change effected, as it was for the proud creators of the idea.

This is probably why the technology figure heads set the tone with their outward facing agendas, humanising their offerings, reaching farther with their innovations, impacting communities, touching lives and creating social capital. Pinterest, Tencent, YouTube, Facebook, Google and Apple — everyone was here, with their distinctive take on purpose and authenticity. Sharing experiences of how they derived their brand DNA and defined their moral centre.

Celebrities opened up to us — Ellen Pompeo, Conan O’Brien, Shaq, David Schwimmer, Queen Latifah, David Oyelowo, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Abby Wambach, Michael Wolff, James Marsh, Gretchen Carlson and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau among others — with stories of how they achieved their dreams and overcame the odds, with the power of passion and the fuel of belief.

Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan and Corinne Woods of the UN World Food Programme got the group captivated with the sheer scale of the challenge and the massive opportunity to resolve it.

Big conglomerates such as HP, Samsung, P&G and Unilever demonstrated their sense of purpose by showcasing their increased commitment to the future. Whether it was sessions on country models like that of Japan, or speakers from fields like neuroscience, or even panels on topics such as the power of confidence, everyone stayed sharply focused on the true north, staying on point.

The new format at Cannes Lions seemed to make it more conducive to collaboration and co-creation. With more venues and topics, we could curate our own experience in and around the Palais. This allowed for richer dialogues between the like-minded, glued together by common interests.

This year underscored a renewed sense of responsibility and purpose, especially in a time of flux and uncertainty. A special shout-out to our fine bunch of passionate people who believe — and know — that they can change anything with the brilliance of an idea and the power of communication. That we all come together at Cannes Lions every year to inspire each other, is proof that we are proud to belong and here to make a difference. It also signals that knowledge multiplies exponentially with sharing and that uncompromising creativity is always the real winner.

Time then to raise a glass of rosé to the wonderful groundswell and the remarkable outpouring of our collective consciousness.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Meera Sharath Chandra

Meera Sharath Chandra is Founder, CEO & CCO of Tigress Tigress (a digital-led integrated communications agency in London and Mumbai) and three-time Cannes juror

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