If I Had Three Wishes — The Cannes Lions Edition.
Here we go again. Cannes. The eternal dance of creativity and vanity, the convention of kings and dunces, the magical place that happily unites wisdom and bullshit behind a glass of rosé.
Going there from my new homebase in Tbilisi, it will be somewhat of a relief. 24 degrees instead of a scorching 33. And as usual I will have a nice time walking up and down the Croisette, bumping into old friends, making new ones, and trying not to forget to actually use the sunscreen that I was so proud to have remembered to pack.
Again, it will be hard to focus on inspiration at a festival that is too big to focus on anything (even if I stay away from most of the beverages that further diminish the ability to do so). But I will try. Of course.
And I will hope to see a few things that further strengthen my optimism and the joy that I feel about being part of this circus (again). No, not lions going to Leavingstone, that’s not the point, even if we’d be happy to take one home.
It’s more about things like purpose, honesty and a change of perspective.
Like being satisfied to see campaigns like Nike’s “Dream Crazy” or the New York Times’ “The Truth Is Worth It” take home a truckload of Lions (I can’t say “a few” because these days, they distribute so many of them that you can’t call yourself successful if you haven’t at least raked in a dozen of them in gold or grand).
For years and years we have heard that advertising has the ability to help solve some really big problems on this planet, and every time we were seeing that most of the campaigns that were claiming to save the world were really just promoting the careers of the dozens of people on the credit lists.
The world really hasn’t become a better place, to say the least. Today, civil rights don’t just have to be defended in strange corners of the planet — they need protection in the USA, of all places. We are not just talking about protecting the environment anymore, we are talking about the planet and how it will probably be close to uninhabitable in a relatively forseeable future.
It obviously had to come this far to finally see brands taking a stand, making a point, picking a side, starting to understand that it’s not just about the economy but also about responsibility. No, advertising won’t save the world, and brands won’t be able to do that either. But they sure can help people understand that it’s them who have to make a choice.
At the same time — and that’s my second wish — I hope that the juries are able to separate the sincere attempts at doing something positive from at least the most blatant attempts at whitewashing. When a company is responsible for a noticeable part of the plastic pollution on our planet and is doing plenty of things to block policy changes that are trying to reduce the number of one way plastic bottles, it would be shameful if we gave them an award for a bunch of posters that point at recycling bins.
I really hope we have passed the times when we have to admit that some of us are reckless enough to act as if they had created an app that saves refugees from drowning only to bring home a Lion.
My last wish would be spent on a Lion for Georgia, and I am perfectly ok if it goes to a competitor. We have a nice little streak going, and it would be great if it continued. It feels like this year might be a little tougher and that the work coming from this country might not be quite as convincing as before — but that’s what it feels like every year.
Apart from that, I hope to come back without a cold and without a sunburn, that I meet a lot of good friends and hug them all, that they all are having a wonderful time doing what they are doing, and that I maybe even find a few folks that want to find out what it’s like to live and work in Tbilisi.
Santé! See you there.