The Brand Agency's head of strategy Paul Yole reviews the best of the 2012 Cannes Seminars

Paul Yole in Cannes.jpgPaul Yole, head of strategy at The Brand Agency, Perth and a regular contributor during Cannes week, highlights the best seminars from each day of the Festival.


DAY ONE

Not so long ago, nobody went to any seminars on the first Sunday. You'd just arrived and they didn't seem all that interesting anyway.

Changed days. If the queues at The Palais yesterday are anything to go by, it's going to be a long week that will test the patience of delegates.

I'm going to try and pick out one seminar each day and give a quick run down of the content. Good or bad.
The highlight of day one, playing to a packed house at 5.30pm, was the presentation from Morihiro Harano, founder of the hot Japanese agency, Party.

Party_presentation.jpgHe made a couple of interesting points, including

1. Is the Art Director/copywriter team still valid after all these years and shouldn't you have instead a CD/Technical Director team?

2. The evolution of new technologies corresponds to the evolution of storytelling. It happened with the printing press, radio, movies and television. Now, the Internet and mobile applications create a whole new landscape.

3. With the kind of work Party has been creating, they find that it's pretty useless to present concepts and storyboards because the client doesn't get them. So they create prototypes instead.

He then showed us some of Party's amazing work such as the Backseat Driver game for Toyota - Toy Toyota - and their big Lion winner from last year, the Xylophone film for NTT wooden mobile phones.

A big line up today with the likes of Ridley Scott, Jeff Benjamin and some K-Pop.

I'll need to start getting in line.

***

DAY TWO

Picking the highlight today was difficult because there was not a lot of great stuff to choose from.

The Contagious session was good but you might expect that as they curate the coolest stuff from around the world and therefore had good content to start with. At least they had a clear theme - use your skills to do good - and they stuck to it.

SEMINAR JWT.jpgMy pick from today was the session hosted by Jeff Benjamin of JWT.

It started as badly as you might expect from one of those cosy couch chats but it was saved by three kids with an average age of 10.7 or thereabouts.

One was an 11 year old from Ireland who has just built an app for Band Aid, and the second was 9 year old Caine who was the feature of the You Tube hit Caine's Arcade . What started as a little kid making a cardboard games arcade has turned into a real life entertainment experience and a charitable foundation that has already raised over $200,000.

The third was a precocious young lady who at age 12 became the youngest ever presenter at TED .

What made everyone sit up was the theme of thinking like a kid, or as they said "the wisdom of not knowing" (what could go wrong).

The great thing about kids is that they just go ahead and get things done, they are not afraid of failure and if they have a passion about something they follow it.

A lesson for us all there, I think.

***

DAY THREE

Undoubtedly the highlight from day three was queuing.

Waiting in a line for half an hour before being told the auditorium was full was not what I had in mind when I shelled out a few thousand dollars for my registration.

There are a couple of ways around this of course. One is to get in early for the first session and just stay there the whole day. Unfortunately this means sitting or sleeping through those sessions that don't really interest you or are just plain boring. Or you may not be able to go to a workshop or master class for fear of missing out on the one seminar you really wanted to see.

Another trick I witnessed was the guy (who shall remain nameless) who waited until the session had started then blagged his way in on the pretence that he had to take an important photograph. But that only works if you have a camera and a press pass.

I was among about 400 people who were turned away from the Facebook seminar, having started standing in line half an hour earlier. I was then turned away from the live streaming room and ended up standing in a packed corner of the Palais watching it on a small screen with dodgy audio.

This made note taking very difficult so I am very grateful that my colleague at STW Group, Jessica Stanley, not only took good notes but also wrote up a great and detailed piece about Paul Adams' talk. You can read it here.

Apart from Facebook I did mange to catch a couple of interesting snippets. Kim Kadlec of Johnson & Johnson told us that it is time for us to embrace creative risks and establish new practices if we want to be leaders in this game-changing time for the industry.

She, like many others this week, discussed the use of data being critical and she shared her version of the new 4 Ps of marketing - Purpose, Presence, Proximity and Participation.

Kim also shared some interesting examples, such as the cute and funny OB 'Sorry' campaign. Works better if you're a girl by the way.

Then there is the Coca Cola Middle East campaign, Today I Will, which uses AR in an interesting way.

I did manage to beat the queues on a few more occasions, including the talks from TED fellows, but overall I was so tired from all the standing around I left for the solace of the Carlton Terrace feeling tired and deflated.

I'm not sure what the answer is to the problem of capacity at the Palais, but if isn't fixed I suspect there'll be a few people like me who will be wondering if it's all worth it.

***

DAY FIVE

There were a couple of stand out sessions on Thursday.

Amir Kassaei, the newly appointed Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of DDB, gave an impassioned plea for us to "create relevance, not awareness", talked about avoiding "PowerPoint Karaoke" and asked us to treat people as friends, not as target groups.

Amir also showed some neat work, including a very funny campaign for Mexican Internet portal, Terra. It involved dogs and WiFi and you can see it here.

The best talk for me was from the acclaimed philosopher and writer Alain de Botton, who was brought to Cannes by Ogilvy & Mather. He drew parallels between advertising and art, which he describes as "the sensory presentation of an idea."

Alain de Botton.jpgAlain suggested that much of advertising works at the bottom of Maslow's pyramid and that we need to find a way to work at the top by appealing more to real needs than to desires. Those needs could address one or more of Epicurus' three key ingredients for happiness - friends, freedom and thoughtfulness/reflection.

He also talked a lot about the fear of failure, which impedes our creativity, but reassured us that no creativity can occur without that fear and that nobody can be successful at everything.

Oh, Bill Clinton talked on Thursday too.


Bill Clinton crowd.jpg


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