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Cannes Lions Masters of Creativity round up 2017 – part 1

by | Jul 31, 2017

Cannes Lions Masters of Creativity 2017 – A training opportunity where experienced-multi-disciplined teams are challenged to crack a real client brief whilst being taught by industry legends.

Last month, for the third year in a row, we at Now Go Create were invited to the Cannes Lions School as mentors on the ‘Masters of Creativity’ course, a real honour. We would be working alongside the advertising legend that is Keith Reinhard, Steve Latham the Cannes Lions Head of Talent & Training (without whom this wonderful thing would never have happened) and amazingly inspiring ‘masters’, handpicked from the schedule, who delivered the masterclasses. What a rare opportunity to pick the brains of such a talented bunch. One of the reasons we love working with the Academy team on this course is that alongside the delegates we also walk away with more knowledge, inspiration and brainfood to bring back to our day to day work – it’s awesome! And we get to spend time with the legend and talent that is Keith Reinhard.

And by all accounts this year’s Masters of Creativity course was the best yet: delegates predict that their experience will have significant impact on their lives and careers, whilst the eight masters (and mistresses) were among the best we’ve ever had. Attendees have unrivalled access to the best of the best in the communications industry, those who were ‘smashing it’ this year the awards as well as those legends who have been there, got the t-shirt and yet want to give-back to the community – a truly unique opportunity.

So what were the highlights? What did we learn? I’m going to attempt to write a day-by-day account and hope that I do it justice….

Monday June 19th

Sarah Watson – Global CSO BBH on Strategy

“Find the electricity. Make it better than true. Allow ownership. Capture the spirit”

For me, Sarah Watson talk was so much more than a master class on strategic leadership and multi-disciplinary working. It was a master class in capturing an audience’s attention and imagination, in presentation skills, in keeping your poise when the technology fails you, in being humble and in making it look easy. Now you may have gathered but Sarah Watson is the Now Go Create ‘work-crush’ of our Cannes week!

Sarah showed how to go past “good” all the way to “great” and emphasized the need for collaboration between strategists, client service teams and creatives. Here are just some of the bits we will be magpie-ing:

Sarah Watson, BBH

Strategy is an emergent conversation, in which you need to observe the world by being very present with the data you have. Translate that data into insights – they are the elements that:

“speak to your mind in a way that your gut already knows”

(we couldn’t love that phrase any more if we tried), then translate that into action by finding the electricity and make the world feel something. For more tips read ‘Poetry in the Making’ by Ted Hughes, which Sarah referred to throughout her presentation. In particular she talked about a poem called the ‘Thought Fox’ which Hughes wrote – and he wrote the following about ideas and how to catch them. We got goosebumps!

“Imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it. Do not think it up laboriously, as if you were working out mental arithmetic. Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it. When you do this, the words look after themselves, like magic. If you do this you do not have to bother about commas or full-stops or that sort of thing. You do not look at the words either. You keep you eyes, your ears, your nose, you taste, your touch, your whole being on the thing you are turning into words. The minute you flinch, and take your mind off this thing, and begin to look at the words and worry about them…then you worry goes into them and they set about killing each other. So you keep going as long as you can, then look back and see what you have written. After a bit of practice, and after telling yourself a few times that you do not care how other people have written about this thing, this is the way you find it; and after telling yourself you are going to use any old word that comes into your head so long as it seems right at the moment of writing it down, you will surprise yourself. You will read back through what you have written and you will get a shock. You will have captured a spirit, a creature.”  Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making

Eleonore Ogrinz – Head of International Advertising Red Bull on Content

Storytelling is dead, long live story doing! Red Bull is all about engagement.

Representing the client’s perspective, we were both honoured and excited to have the Head of Advertising from one of the world’s most successful brands ever take us through a whistle stop tour of their communications. How they have engaged with the world whilst at the same time personalising Red Bull in the way in which they deliver and market content. Our minds and our eyes were fed with an incredible body of work that, going back to Sarah Watson, was electric.

Unfortunately for you, much of the work and discussions with Eleonore were highly confidential so we can’t share it with you – if we did we’d have to kill you! So you’ll just have to get your own audience with her or join us next year.

Day 2 – June 20th

Rob Reilly – Global Creative Chairman McCann World Group on Creativity

“Perseverance is creativity’s best friend”

Where else could delegates get to spend an hour with Rob Reilly to learn the back story of “Fearless Girl”, one of the most awarded campaigns at Cannes this year, just 24 hours after it won one of four Grand Prix and 18 Lions? This incredible piece is a story of persistence, perseverance and open mindedness. Rob told us how the path to this incredible campaign for State Street Global Advisors to create awareness and support for the SHE Fund and encourage more companies to put women in leadership did not run easy or smooth.After many failed idea pitches and iterations the creative team knew that they had somehow captured the spirit, they just needed the right articulation. 18 months later the pair of female creatives finally hit on the perfect embodiment of the spirit – the amazing “Fearless Girl.”

They did it by visualising success, knowing what spirit they wanted to capture, what emotion they wanted to evoke, what they wanted people to say, then working back from there.

Rob Reilly told us: “You need 100 GREAT ideas to sell one”.

Get busy!

Nick Brien – CEO iCrossing and President of Hearst Marketing Services on Media

 “There is creativity in media.”

Nick quoted Frank Lloyd Wright who said that: “It is infinitely more difficult to live without rules”  and Nick argued that “constraints drive creativity.”

He discussed that Frank Gehry said that the most difficult projects he ever had was when he was asked to design a house with no constraints. Nick argued that often in media we’re tightly constrained by things like:

  • What kind of ads can show where?
  • When can we use video?
  • Can we be sure there will be sound?
  • What if only half the ad is visible?
  • What if a placement only allows us 70 characters of text? (Like Google).

He said that a single ad has to do a lot of jobs: build awareness, generate demand, navigate people to a sales channel, build loyalty, tell a story, show a USP, amongst many other things. And it has to do it all in a small space or one image or 5 seconds or a few words, but that constraints are what media is made of, and constraints drive creativity. We agree with that idea here at Now Go Create – ‘blue sky thinking’ can often paralyse people and there’s always a constraint – of time or budget or feasibility – knowing when to apply the constraints in your creative process is a balancing act!

So Nick says that a media buyer has to be creative, even if their job is mostly spreadsheets. Knowing what data to acquire, how to turn it into a plan, and how to manipulate that plan to tell a story is difficult, and only those who approach it creatively can succeed.

Our second instalment of the remaining 4 masterclasses from Cannes Lions Masters of Creativity round up 2017  follows soon! Keep your eyes peeled for news of what’s in store for creativity training in 2018.

If you’re interested in upping the ante on your own or your company’s creative abilities contact me at claire@nowgocreate.co.uk

We are running a new 6 part online course starting in October in partnership with Creative Review, details here.


Don’t let your organization’s creative potential go untapped. Join our small, residential creative leaders programme to up your creative confidence and learn how to lead a culture of creativity underpinned by well-researched principles and methods. Find out more here.