What’s On

#sowhoknew: CannesYe West

As expected, on day three of the Cannes Lions the irrepressible Kanye (CannesYe ?) West stole the show. In truth it was a sprawling, often disjointed and occasionally incomprehensible session. That said it was in equal measure incredibly riveting, quite mesmerising and certainly unforgettable.

The theme, if there ever really was one, was that of collaboration. There were examples of collaborations that work, such as Apple and Beats. And one’s that clearly don’t – like Alicia Keys and BlackBerry. And, of course, Kimye. It took all of one minute before that particular collaboration was mentioned when the interviewer referred to the fact that KW has over 10 million followers on Twitter but he only follows just the one person (no prizes for guessing who that is).

There was a considerable amount of discussion about why Kanye felt that the Apple / Beats deal was such a perfect collaboration. In the same way that Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine made Beats such an iconic brand, he felt sure that Steve Jobs would have approved the acquisition as the relationship between the two brands works so well.

We then had a slightly peculiar comment when one of the other contributors proffered that Kanye was ‘the Steve Jobs of music’. After a momentary silence whilst we all absorbed that thought, the conversation was inexplicably switched to fashion. I’m still not entirely sure what point was being made particularly when the notion of why fashionistas are ‘trained thinkers of taste’ was introduced by Mr West. When pushed on this by the moderator, Kanye went on to say that the definition of bad taste was ‘to kill someone’ and ‘good taste, is well, the opposite’. Hmm. And there was me thinking that the height of good taste was Ferrero Rocher.

Sensing that the conversation had gone slightly off-piste, the interviewer tried to summarise by saying the discussion they were having about collaboration was really about ‘authenticity and passion’. And with that, the conversation was back on track. At least for a few minutes before Kanye’s next bombshell. After trashing the ‘desperate’ collaboration between BlackBerry & Alicia Keys, one of the other guests talked about why he felt that the tie up between Jay Z and Samsung had been so effective. Only for Kanye to chime in with “I’m not a big fan of Samsung by the way”. Everyone on stage looked mortified and someone mumbled something about Kanye being too honest at times (as he no doubt saw some potential future paycheck go up in smoke).

Hastily moving on, the discussion quickly darted down another rabbit hole and entered into the cultural importance of Hip Hop and why it broke down the barriers of style, branding and storytelling. But Kanye clearly felt he needed to redress the balance of his earlier comments about Samsung and interjected again. It was a valiant attempt but I fear he just made matters worse when he said that he “only ever works with the number one”. Like Jay Z in music for example. He also added that was the reason why he married Kim because her pictures were the number one way to turn him on (a little bit of sick came up in my throat when he said that). And then finally, he said that’s why he wouldn’t work with Samsung because “they are not quite Apple”. I’m sure Samsung were positively thrilled with his explanation. Talk about adding insult to injury…

The session was nearly at a close now and the interviewer could have rounded it out without further incident. However, she chose to talk about the controversial ‘Bound 2’ video from his last album (the one where he shags Kim on a motorbike). It’s a love song. Apparently. Which has been the subject of some sociological studies according to the interviewer. When asked his opinion on this particular point Kanye leaned slowly back in his chair, took a deep breath and after a long pause he uttered the immortal words “I don’t write self help books”. Deep.

And then, he followed that rather perplexing statement with a mini diatribe peppered with expletives about the internet. “The world as a whole, is f***ing ugly. And so is the internet”. He then said that the audience in Cannes has the ability to change that. And how do we do that Kanye? His reply was very simple, remarkably profound and achingly elegant. “Employ the best content creators. Or f**k you.”

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.