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I salute Cannes for how much they have adapted: Donald Chesnut, Sapient Nitro

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I salute Cannes for how much they have adapted: Donald Chesnut, Sapient Nitro

Sapient Nitro’s Global chief creative officer, Donald Chesnut talks about how mobile has become the most important communication vehicle and how Cannes has adapted itself over the years. According to him, the festival needs to continue to keep up its momentum since the communication landscape going ahead will be much more fragmented. In his words, “you need to press your foot on the gas paddle of continued change.”



What is your view on Cannes this year, what are you keenly watching out for at the festival?

This is my sixth year; last year I was on the jury, I have come in all different roles over the years, this year, it meant stage presence. (Chestnut led a varied panel of creative visionaries who shared their personal journeys on exploring ways to improve inclusion and access that exists in creative fields around the subject of “Make Some Room” to address diversity in the advertising industry at the Cannes stage this year).

There is a lot going on at Cannes but for me, honestly, the most important category is mobile.

It has become our most important channel and I am surprised that more people aren’t focused around mobile. Mobile does everything - it’s our TV today, it’s our communication vehicle, it’s how we shop, it’s a product, it’s a wearable, it’s Virtual Reality. So I’m really focused on mobile as a category from what’s coming out of the mobile jury, the shortlist, what wins awards, what wins the Grand Prix because I don’t think ‘it’s one channel of many’, I think ‘it’s the channel.’

Do you think the festival has been able to keep up with fast evolving technology?

I salute Cannes for how much they have adapted, every year it is different and I really give them credit. I came six years ago thinking I am a user experience designer, and this is about advertising.

I then realized this is not about advertising; this is about creativity. I do feel the festival needs to continue to keep up its momentum, to keep up with the dynamic change, like it has in the past six years since I have been coming. The next six years will have the same, if not faster, rate of change.  I mean we have changed the way we watch TV, it’s changed dynamically, so, you need to press your foot on the gas paddle of continued change.  

It’s really thinking through what are your distinct ways of engaging a consumer that could be a product idea.

So, you think the festival has adapted itself and is moving ahead with times?

It is where it should be for today, we are all observant of how much they have changed. If they slow down their rate of change, in the next few years, they will be way behind. But, it’s good where they are, they are catching up and they need to continue to do that because the communication landscape ahead is going to be that much more fragmented.

What is it that you look forward to the most at Cannes?

It is the people and the conversations that are happening, meeting people from different networks and from different countries.

I love to see the work and go to award shows at night, and take notes if I am not on the jury, because you get to see the work from all over the world.

I call Cannes a yearly graduate school that helps us in understanding where our world is, where it is going and where are the gaps. 


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