I’ve just spent the past hour reviewing the 58th annual Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity schedule. Aside from lamenting my lost invitation to Yahoo’s networking yacht party (attended by Martha Stewart and Robert Redford), I am genuinely in awe of the talent that will descend upon this sunny paradise in the following days.
Happening now in Cannes, France, from June 19-25, the festival is a global summit for communications industry professionals to celebrate their achievements, forecast digital and marketing trends, and learn from their peers. Above all else, the Lions are the industry’s most prestigious awards show.
Over four evenings during the course of the week, Grand Prix, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Lions are handed out in 13 categories to shortlisted entries, selected from more than 28,000 submissions.
Some of the winners already crowned include Droga5 and Bing’s integrated scavenger-hunt campaign for Jay-Z’s Decoded autobiography, which sent fans dashing around New York to piece together pages from the rap mogul’s first book. It also left judges speechless (and out of breath), taking home top prize in the Outdoor category.
Romanian candy bar producer ROM also caused a stir by changing their nationalist packaging to an American flag. The wrapper switch caused a massive public outcry in Romania, resulting in a wildly successful campaign and two Grand Prix awards in the Direct and Promotion & Activation categories.
Cannes also offers a smorgasbord of seminars, workshops, master classes and exhibits. Conducted by industry and media big-wigs such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Arianna Huffington and Tim Armstrong, and paneled by popular personalities such as JoBro Nick Jonas and Martha Stewart, the events cover a range of topics, from “the future of mobility and marketing,” to “storytelling and the technology that fuels it.”
At Monday’s Kraft Foods seminar, bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell stressed the importance of tweaking ideas over innovating them, pointing out how Facebook was not the first social network, only the most successful.
On Wednesday, Google Executive Chairman (and Cannes Lions 2011 Media Person of the Year) Eric Schmidt took the stage to discuss a world with no credits cards and fewer car crashes, the future according to Google.