Of courageous lions 

by Marco Ruckenbrod

Courage. A single syllable, three simple letters and yet such a big word. As I am sitting in the wild hustle and bustle at the sunny Croisette, people from all over the world – and with them the first day of the festival – pass me by at terrific speed, it is the word that sticks: courage. Because on Day 1, much of the action on the stages of Cannes revolves around this small word with a big meaning.

Courage to stand up for one’s convictions

Probably the most impressive thing on this day is the video message of the Ukrainian President Selenskyj. As he did a few weeks ago at the Cannes Film Festival, Selenskyj also speaks out on this day at the Côte d’Azur. And, of course, we are listening and applauding him. Admittedly: this is the least. In his statement he talks a lot about ‘bravery’ and how ‘fearless’ his people are. No question: that is a category of courage of its own. A category that demands the greatest admiration. He also makes a clear appeal to the festival visitors: “We need people like you. You are the most creative people in the world.” The sentence resonates, the sentence makes you think. Because it is true. And one inevitably asks oneself: Shouldn’t the power of creativity be used much more for overcoming the great crises of this world? For overcoming war, climate crisis and so on. Instead of ‘only’ making use of it for brands and their communication? Certainly a question that the Cannes Lions, as the ‘Festival of Creativity’, should reflect upon: What role can and should creativity play in the future for the economy and society beyond its own industry? After all, Cannes claims to be “providing a global destination and the definitive benchmark for creativity that drives progress”. I think Cannes can do more.

The courage to initiate social debates

Speaking of ‘driving progress’: I experience that Cannes can do more a little later that day in the hall of the Debussy Theatre. Tarana Burke, founder of the “me too” movement, and Susan Credle, Global Chief Creative Officer of FCB, are on stage in front of a full audience. In conversation, the two reflect upon what #metoo means, how it came about in the first place and how it has developed over the years. The topic shows what power communication can unleash: it was 2017 when, within 24 hours, more than 12 million people worldwide reacted to a post under the hashtag #metoo. This triggered a social debate of outstanding importance that has a lasting effect.

Courage to rethink creative processes

Another encouraging talk today: alma DDB X Pepsi. Todd Kaplan, CMO of Pepsi and Luis Miguel Messianu, Chairman of alma DDB, chat cheerfully about the successful #BetterWithPepsi campaign – and more importantly, about the co-creative process between agency and client behind the creative output. They call it ‘Collaborativity’ and give insights into what their collaboration looked like. Rethinking creative development processes and saying goodbye to the classic client-briefs-agency principle is certainly nothing entirely new. And yet still the standard. Unfortunately. A standard that needs to be questioned more and more. With a little more courage, this is certainly a promising perspective for all involved.

Courage – the trait of the lion

Surprise, surprise: it is the lion, of all things, that stands for courage. And with him the Cannes Lions. Cannes is above all a story of lions. The world-famous festival first started in 1954 in the lagoon city of Venice. The city of Venice still plays a defining role for Cannes today. For the statue of the winged lion on the Piazza San Marco has been the symbol of the coveted trophies since 1954 to this day. For bold ideas, if you will.

Surprise, surprise the second: since 1954, the lion has also played a defining role for our beautiful Baden-Württemberg. Three lions, to be precise. Since then, they have adorned the state’s coat of arms: three lions striding boldly forward. So there it is: the first whiff of Baden-Württemberg in Cannes. A little bit of THE LÄND in Cännes. That’s encouraging for the days to come.