Cannes Lions 2019: 'There is a Super Bowl audience every day looking at Instagram stories'

Nick Law, Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Groupe & President, Publicis Communications, shares insights on creatives taking on leadership roles

Nick Law

The Creative Lions festival of creativity 2019 commenced today. It is a five day festival where creatives from around the world come together in French Riveria to honour and appreciate the creative work done in the past year. 

The first speaker of the day was Nick Law, Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Groupe, and President, Publicis Communications, who spoke about Creatives taking on leadership roles. In today’s world, the product of creativity needs to change and keep up with the ever-changing media. The session imagines a world where creatives are in the front seats at leadership roles to garner better results for brands. 

Law started off by saying that creatives don’t have the leadership roles and he thinks that they need too. “Law states that there are three questions that we need to keep in mind: Why should creatives lead? When did creatives stop leading and How should creatives lead?”, stated Law. 

The first question to address is Why should creatives lead? Law remarked, “Creatives are termed as our product people. What follows from that is that the only product people can create the future. We need to not just extrapolate the past at this point we are going through an enormous amount of change and imagine a near future. The people that are really good at imagining things are the creatives and are successful in driving better results.”

Law stated that another way to describe the relationship between creativity and the medium is this very blunt metaphor which is, ‘Even a finger in the sand is technology’. Law commented, “If the technology is sand, my finger drawing in that sand is technology. When I come up with an idea, that idea is going to be expressed through a medium. When I think about an idea before I draw it in the sand I’m already thinking that I can’t really define illustration because I don't have a medium to support it. We know that and it is not that when we come out of that idea, the medium that supports it most elegantly is the medium we opt for in the end. When we separate the medium from the creator we get broadcast and it stunts our ability to think. If you think about all these mediums that have exploded since the advent of the Internet, one which happens to be huge right now is Instagram stories.”

Law commented that there is a Superbowl size audience every day looking at Instagram stories. “Instagram is a particular medium that has a very particular grammar, it needs a particular fluency, it is being invented as we speak. Yet, right now if I want to see the best practices on Instagram stories, there is a housewife in New Auckland, a student in Mumbai, its people in their bedroom in Toronto. It’s not in a corner office in Madison Avenue who are generally ad agencies doing anthem films with taglines that don’t work out ”, commented Law. 

We can not slice up the content on Instagram stories, it has a new grammar stated Law. As a creative tribe, it is time we start getting back and start getting equipped with the mediums (products) we are supposed to be mastering. Law says, “We should be creating a whole new grammar around Instagram stories and AI. Every time a new medium comes along, we are one medium behind. If you haven’t mastered social media and it is not in the middle of your model. It is almost too late.”

The younger generation is a big asset and all over the world, they are becoming fluent in the grammar because they are using it for more time. “There is this idea in software where you have a product type I think you need prototype stories too and the structure will change. If you took someone who watched TV 50 years ago and has them watch the Sopranos or Breaking bad it's so matrix and dense but a new grammar is created in the medium and explore it, we need to do the same. TV spots from 50 years ago are still the same, we need to create a new grammar”, remarked Law. 

According to Law, the bottom line is that business is the product and product is the business. “It is not an argument for a pool for creatives. It is an argument for creatives to take a leadership role and start shaping it. We need to be operational in nature, otherwise, we will look like Hollywood in the ’70s. We need to create stability and efficiency. We try to imagine the future by starring at our spreadsheets which get us nowhere,” stated Law. 

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