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Anil Ralph Thomas @ Cannes: The solution’s simple, it’s people that are screwed up

23-June-2011
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Anil Ralph Thomas @ Cannes: The solution’s simple, it’s people that are screwed up

I was quite excited this morning. Excited because there was a seminar slated today, to be hosted by one of the finest minds when it comes to ‘thinking’ – Edward De Bono. Yes, we have all read his books, practiced it and it did help. But to see and meet him in person was another high altogether.

I was among the first in line towards the Debussy as I wanted to sit in as front as possible. And I got in on the second row. The man was already there, seated on the dais, jotting down notes. I looked closer. Age has not been kind to the great man. Maybe too much thinking can do that to you.

He was introduced by some guy from The Guardian whose eyes were twitching so rapidly, I thought he was clicking passport sized photographs of every member in the audience. The intro was long, though it sounded more like an eulogy to me. He spoke shakily, taking us through his conclusion that solutions to most problems are really simple, it’s we, the people, who complicate it. He took us through several examples of this. Peppered with a sense of humour that was as dry as his throat. In fact, he helped me today, with a problem that I’ve been grappling with for months now. A simple thing really. And I could swear he looked straight at me as I took in the full blow of the realisation that hit me. True, the answers are quite simple really. It’s the people that are screwed up.

As I staggered out of the Debussy, I saw people chatting, some cussing that it was truly a boring seminar. If they only listened!

The next workshop that I attended was the one hosted by Leo Burnett, where the speakers eloquently argued on the need to move from ‘Speaking Consumers’ to ‘Speaking Human’ and that all great brands have a purpose, and the ‘purpose’ had to be lived by the people to make it a truly iconic brand. The examples that featured here were Nike, Canon, Coke, Apple, The Simpsons and a couple others.

It was here that they unveiled the ‘Gandhi font’ in eight Indian languages, I think. And the purpose apparently was for people to see things through his perspective. Live the purpose. They exalted. Hmmm... Yes, the fonts were simply and tastefully designed, but living his perspective through the font might have been a bit far-fetched, I thought. But then the whole Debussy erupted in a thunderous applause. Strangely, it felt good. As an Indian. The Mahatma still arouses such aura and passion amongst people in the world. Although I’d bet my last beer that more than half the audience wouldn’t know more about him apart from the ‘half naked man’ who had something to do with the Indian war for Independence.

Next up is the award show for Press, Design and Cyber Lions, hopefully McCann Worldwide India will pick some metals today as they did last evening.

And then there is The Times of India party later. Where after four days of cheesy French food, the dal-roti craving Indian delegates will get to gorge on some Indian food. So all roads lead there and let the bhangra begin…

[Anil Ralph Thomas is Regional Creative Director at McCann World Group (South India)]

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