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Steve Blakeman’s blog: Can you make ‘shit’ sexy? Day 1 @Cannes Lions

The craziness that is Cannes is gearing up already. I arrived off a plane, had time for a quick shower and then straight off to the Palais for the opening presentations.

First up was a session by Cinelan which focused on the GE ‘Focus Forward’ series (Short Films, Big Ideas). And frankly the session was complete shit. But in a good way. They showcased ‘Meet Mr Toilet’ directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Jessica Yu (‘Last Call at the Oasis’) and social entrepreneur Jack Sim, founder of BoP HUB and the World Toilet Organisation. They talked about the worldwide water crisis and serious public health issues affecting 2.6 billion people worldwide. The issue is very real but the biggest problem is the social taboo about defecating (who wants to talk about poo?). So their idea was to use that embarrassment as its power to make us laugh (shit might repulse us but it also makes us giggle right?). Cue an (ahem) endless stream of gags about diarrhoea, poop, crap and dumping. All jokes aside, the serious message has been endorsed by movie stars (like Matt Damon) and mega brands (eg. Unilever) alike. The session also led to some classic quotes from Mr Sim, my favourite being “we need to make shit sexy”. Now that’s going to be a big job…

Next up was the eagerly anticipated panel (considering it was 11 am on a Sunday, the auditorium was full) presented by Mail Online about celebrity media. On the panel was Martha Stewart (lifestyle guru and businesswoman), Nick Cannon (comedian and husband of Mariah Carey) and Mel B from the defunct Spice Girls and more latterly an X Factor judge in Australia and the ‘face of Ultimo’ (though am not sure ‘face’ is the right word here). And talking of the Spice Girls, that got me thinking that they could answer the question raised by Jack Sim in the first session. Can you make shit sexy? Of course you can, the Spice Girls were living proof of that. Anyhow, it proved to be an entertaining hour where they talked about the power of Twitter in particular but also the role that Pinterest and Facebook play in their celebrity lives. Mel B freely admitted that she tweets regularly (six or seven times a day) and uses all social media avenues to enhance her career “Twitter is great for engaging with fans. But it is also good for creating commercial opportunities”. She admitted that she has worn revealing lingerie or bikinis and uploaded pictures to enhance her career. Working it.

Following that, it was off for lunch with the US team from Linkedin and a spirited discussion on the agency model, who owns the data and new currencies. Talking of which we ‘spoofed’ for the bill. I lost. I don’t like that new currency. Will get them back tonight at their soiree though…

The blogger, Steve Blakeman, is the CEO for OMD Asia Pacific.
Blakeman’s blog is from his observations on June 16, 2013 at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

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.
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