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Blakeman’s blog: All Advertisers are Scum? Day 4 @Cannes Lions

Gold! Always believe that you are Gold. You’re indestructible. Always believe that… you are Gold!

Forgive me. Random lines from those floppy haired 80’s icons Spandau Ballet is possibly not the best way to begin a blog (unless it’s a blog about those floppy haired 80’s icons Spandau Ballet). But it isn’t. It’s a spurious link to the fact that OMD had a ‘golden’ (ugh) night at the Cannes Lions. It might seem a bit like bragging (although Ali once said that it ain’t bragging if it’s true) but I don’t care because OMD happened to have a rather good night in terms of wins. 10 wins globally and for APAC specifically we took home 2 Golds, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze plus the prestigious global Gold for ‘Media Agency of the Year’. Our best haul ever. That’s the ad break over, now for the news…

Day 4 was arguably the best line up of speakers / content of the entire week at Cannes. The morning made a bright start with Mofilm (and a bright start was definitely needed after the celebrations last night… had I mentioned that we won Agency of the Year at the Cannes Lions?). Ahem. So the session on crowd sourced content featured none other than the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. Crowd sourced creative is becoming big business, as demonstrated by the Superbowl ad commissioned by GM for Chevrolet last year. Their key point was built around collaboration and partnership making a big distinction between curation vs. creation. And there was a thinly veiled threat in there for creative agencies when they talked about the difference between Open vs Closed agencies. The basic tenet being that the ‘Madmen’ days where only Don Draper could come up with the best solution are, quite simply, over. Great ideas can come from anywhere and if agencies were ‘closed’ to that notion then then they were basically in trouble. Given the strength of some of the crowd sourced work they showcased, I think they made their point very well.

Next up was the Time Warner fun fest that was Anderson Cooper (CNN Anchorman) interviewing presenter / comedian Conan O’Brien. The main points made (wrapped around plenty of gags) were that for advertisers to truly harness the power of stars like Conan they can’t mess with the format too much and they had to remain authentic (it seems authenticity is becoming a bit of a theme at this Cannes Lions). Oh and pay him vast amounts of cash, straight into his Swiss bank account. And Conan was certainly authentic. I can’t imagine many guest speakers at the Worlds oldest, largest and most revered advertising festival (incidentally did I tell you that OMD won Agency of the Year at Cannes Lions last night ?) saying things like “all advertisers are scum” and his parting shot to the audience “you all disgust me”.

And to complete the day, a rather interesting (if slightly odd) appearance by the singer, songwriter, producer, businessman and entrepreneur Sean Combs. Or Puff Daddy. Or is it Diddy? Or Diddly? Or Dodley. Or Sean John? Or a combination of them all? I don’t know. Or care. Anyway he came on fashionably late, had a truly cringe inducing video to introduce him which at one stage described him as a Vodka Visionaire and a Perfume Provocateur. Whatever that means. But thankfully when he spoke he did make a few sensible points about commerce and creativity. He mourned the demise of the MTV music format, introduced his new multi-screen alternative (Revolt) and made the classic statement “I hate watching commercials just like everyone else”. Er not me actually. I quite like some of them. And it helps to pay the rent. So we’ll have to disagree on that point, Mr er Doodley ? And also not exactly the smartest thing to say to a room packed with agencies and clients with ad dollars to spend on Revolt. He then followed it up quite eloquently with “if you’re not going to produce great work, you’d better get the fuck out of this room.” So I did. And went for lunch. To celebrate OMD winning the Agency of the Year… had I mentioned that by the way?

The blogger, Steve Blakeman, is the CEO for OMD Asia Pacific.
Blakeman’s blog was from his observations on June 19, 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.