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It's hard to describe the state of you in Cannes by the middle of the week. By Wednesday night, it's likely you haven't slept in four days. The drinking starts around noon, and you're constantly being blindsided by huge vacuums of people who want to chat about their creative ideas, which seesaw between brilliant and horrific, depending on what fluid you just swallowed.
One guy spent a night regaling Ask Wappling and me about his "sublime" comic strip idea, in which men and women have short, terse exchanges -- sort of like XKCD but stupid. (Man: "Hi!" Woman: "I shaved my legs for this?") The men are always smiling penises, and the women are squiggles in the shape of their pubic hair. Squiggles can vary by size and type.
Be careful when you've been chosen for a creative revelation like this. The less convinced you look, the more insistent the person gets about his genius.
But the trauma I felt, watching those banal prattling penises and vaginas appear in front of me, is only a distant memory. It was Monday around 5 AM.
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As you may (or may not) know. we're working with Yahoo! to produce Yahoo! Scene, a site dedicated to the coverage of Cannes (and other conference and festivals. As part pf this coverage, we have lot and lot and lots...and did we say lots? of video. So here a link list to all the videos we've done so far. And, yes, Barbara Lippert is in Cannes and doing her daily video for Yahoo
We had a treat on Tuesday night. Fast Company's Le Rooftop party played host to a short evening panel featuring American Express, Arcade Fire and Terry Gilliam, best known for his Monty Python work (and maybe also for Lost in La Mancha, because that was bloody magnificent).
Gilliam didn't speak much, but when he did it was with a kind but long-suffering smile -- the sort you give when you're tired of a topic but understand others' persistent curiosity. Of the things he said that one can easily scale from advertising to life, he half-jokingly observed that "transparency is a word used to cover the truth in most instances."
With regard to his own industry, he said animated features are important political vehicles. (In case you wondered, this year he quite liked Rango.)
"Wall-E was probably the most politically important film that we had all year. And that's how sad the world has become!" he quipped.
And he finally answered that age-old question: why coconuts for horses?
"We didn't have the budget," Gilliam said frankly. "Things usually do come down to money in the end."
Yesterday afternoon at the Lions, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt sat with VP-Google Creative Lab Andy Berndt to discuss innovation, imagination and the internet.
Schmidt kicked off the discussion by pointing out the internet is a special kind of business because it is highly Moore's Law-driven: "If you take a country that's got 40% internet penetration, and you see it in the next five years, broadband penetration will be up to 80%." Your business just doubled and you didn't have to do anything -- this doesn't happen in any other industry.
The idea that your business can be expanded as a function of users broadening your market, as opposed to you taking steps to expand in the traditional sense, is something we are still grappling with.
"The implications for this consumer-driven phenomena are not well-understood," Schmidt said, pointing out that the Middle East's current ongoing social media-driven struggles for democracy are a good example of the unexpected fruit such phenomena yields. This is just the beginning of users' muscle-flexing.
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When I sat down to listen to MRM Worldwide's session entitled Five Technologies That Will Transform Marketing Creativity, I expected to hear just that. Instead, all I got was an endless litany of the same old marketing blather concerning how everything is changing, how agencies and marketers need to break down the walls and blow up the silos to adjust to those changes and pointless platitudes pathway we all have to take to get there.
Will.i.am rambled on semi-coherently about how he'd rather be using his phone during the session instead of a microphone because the microphone is old and doesn't let him do all the things his phone allows him to do. Driving that point home, he said, "Why are we still rockin' it like it's 1999?"
Valid point but if I wanted to watch five people on stage madly manipulating their phones instead of focusing on the task at hand, all I'd need to do is look at the people sitting next to me madly tweeting instead of actually paying attention to what was being said on stage.
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As we make our way around Cannes this week, we've noticed a few things we thought we'd share.
- Everyone smokes. A lot. Constantly.
- Everyone leaves the ringer on their phone on. Totally annoying!
- The cacophony of multiple languages is more pleasing than expected.
- For some reason, a lady hands you a small piece of toilet paper when you enter a port-a-potty...which already has toilet paper in it.
- Everyone in France, and most other countries, dresses way nicer than most Americans.
- Almost every car is a Mercedes of a Peugeot.
- Pellegrino and Evian are the norm for bottled water.
- Bartenders don't use much ice when making drinks.
- People dance alone.
- Everyone is more beautiful than in "regular" life.
- Men's and women's rooms have the same entrance.
- Female cleaning staff have no problem walking into a men's room when it's occupied.
Facebook Global Marketing Solutions VP Carolyn Everson took the stage in the Debussy Theater at Cannes for the last session Wednesday where she shared with delegates some of Facebook's advertising initiatives for marketers. Topping the list was Sponsored Stories, a new product which leverages the power of word of mouth by placing a Liked page in the right hand column of friend's pages.
In terms of the power of word of mouth, Everson noted research that showed 75% of new parents would rather get recommendations from friends on Facebook than anywhere else and 74% who make purchase are influenced by friends. And 68% are more likely to recommend a product if the ad is on a friend's page. Hence leveraging these recommendations are what power Facebook Sponsored Stories.
Wednesday night during the Lions Awards at Cannes, Google was awarded a Grand Prix for its Wilderness Downtown site for Arcade Fire. R/GA won a Grand Prix for its Pay With A Tweet work for Innovative Thunder and Wieden + Kennedy won a Grand Prix for the Old Spice Body Wash Response Campaign.
For Wilderness Downtown, Google released a new Chrome Experiment in partnership with the band Arcade Fire which resulted in an interactive music video for the band and a chance to demonstrate HTML5 programming technology. By drawing on data from Google Maps and Google Streetview, The Wilderness Downtown integrated visuals of the viewer's childhood home into the narrative, creating a unique, emotional experience. Spread across multiple browser windows that opened and closed as the experienced progressed, The Wilderness Downtown worked towards changing the way the web (and music) can make people feel.
R/GA's Pay With A Tweet was an attempt to create a social payment system where people would use the value of their tweet to spread the word about a product and, in return, get the product.
Wieden + Kennedy's Old Spice Body Wash Response campaign resulted in dozens and dozens of customized videos featuring Isiah Mustafah who responded to people's tweet, videos, emails and blog posts.
Wednesday night at Cannes, Chicago's Digital Kitchen nabbed the Design Lion Grand Prix for its Digital Experience work for The Cosmopolitan.
In the words of Digital Kitchen, "The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is an iconic luxury brand. For DK, this presented us with our own mission: bring The Cosmopolitan to life. Give the building itself a personality, a perspective, a voice. Our solution was to transform each digital display into a living art canvas. From the marquee, to the casino, to the elevators, guests encounter a beautifully immersive digital experience. This experience culminates in the main lobby, where first impressions matter most. Every visitor is greeted with truly unique blend of architecture, contemporary art, and cutting edge digital technology."
Seems to have paid off.
Some moments after I sat down with SapientNitro's Worldwide Chief Creative Director Gaston Legorburu and Creative Director John McHale, I got a hard sense of what our time together would be about.
"Our secret weapon is our culture," Gaston said. And the culture is bred and nourished with conscious attention.
They reflected that they've never actually discussed their culture with the press before, and maybe because of that, they sat and outlined the entire blueprint.
The SapientNitro Positioning Statement
A mystique surrounds SapientNitro's culture, in part because the "agency" -- if you can call it that -- came from left field, blindsiding traditional agencies and digital players alike.
Sapient's roots lie in business and IT consulting, two specialties that still heavily impact its culture. It's technology, hardware, organizational management -- universes that traditionally have nothing to do with creative. But two years ago, when it started building touchscreen "Happiness" vending machines for Coca-Cola, followed by machines that dispense Unilever ice creams when a person smiles agencies began to worry.
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