Pouvez-vous repeater la question, s’il vous plait?
According to Google Translate, it means “can you repeat the question, please?”
“What are your expectations from Cannes this year?” is probably one of the most difficult questions you can ask an advertising creative who’s headed for the Festival. How can you answer it differently every year and still sound smarter than the next guy?
To be blown away. Anyone who travels all the way to the Côte d’Azur in the last week of June at this time of the year expects to blown away by the power of creativity coming in from around the world and to return inspired and humbled. Unless of course you are one of those few returning with a few Lions in your cabin baggage. In that case you return with an affliction that lasts several months - you attract a whole lot of headhunters, which can perhaps be explained by the change in dimensions of your head.
To be awed by technology. Any regular at the Palais will tell you that in the past decade, the work has gone through a tremendous change. Thanks to technology, creative ideas are growing real wings. Ideas that once seemed impossible are executed and right there in front of you to see. Your communication can now “do” things. Increasingly, there are more Tony Starks than ponytails in the crowd.
Unfortunately, while we also have our share of Tony Starks, we as a country are quite a few leagues behind in this category. But then again, every year, a few of our compatriots have helped us stand tall in this crowd of techocreatives through the sheer power and simplicity of their ideas. I am sure we will not be disappointed this year, either.
To be reassured. Call me a traditionalist stuck in a time warp, but I must confess that I miss the writing. Meticulously crafted headlines and copy in print and poster categories are quite rare these days. Last year, I even spotted a few posters with typos! And whatever happened to radio spots like “The Real Men of Genius”? Most of the writers seem to have diverted their energies to writing case videos. Anyway, I shall be stepping into the Palais with hope.
To see zaggers. When the whole world was into visual-led posters, a black and white, copy-only poster from India lifted a Gold Lion. When the whole world was into Hollywood-scale productions, a retail brand came up with cheap Christmas gifts. When we had just about had it with glossy, hi-tech automotive ads, we were blown away by animated diesel engines with wings flying to a tune the Palais knew how to whistle. This year, again, I am sure we will be humbled by the work done by the brave few who zagged.
To eat some Indian food. If you’re in Mumbai or Delhi, and you’re meeting someone for lunch or dinner, chances are you’ll be going to some Mediterranean, Chinese or even Greek restaurant. Seldom does one hear anyone say “Nahin yaar, let’s do butter chicken and naan!”. At Cannes, however, it a totally different story. By the third day on La Croisette, any conversation with any desi you meet quickly veers to mama’s home cooked food. “Man, I’m so looking forward to the India party. Missing dal-roti, man.”
To join the pilgrims. No matter where you are staying – at the Ritz Carlton or a closet on the fourth floor of a house with no elevators, you have to make the pilgrimage. To the Gutter Bar. And if you’re of those who, like me, can’t hold their liquor, I suggest you drink real slow. Because the night only ends when the sun comes up.
To have to buy a bigger hat. Finally, of course, like every one getting on that flight towards France, I am hoping our entry is noticed by the jury as well. And I can also return wearing a bigger hat.
(The author is Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide)