The Most Amazing Thing I Saw in Cannes Today

Canada's two-time Media judge Lauren Richards shares why a Zimbabwean ad took her breath away, plus her run-in with Taxi co-founder Paul Lavoie and a naked man roaming the hotel halls...

Before I left for Cannes to judge the Media category, Mary Maddever asked if I’d write a daily blog. Of course, I said. Be happy to. I then asked her what she thought of the concept of ‘the most amazing thing I saw in Cannes today.’ Was thinking it could be an amazing piece of work, an amazing seminar or an inspiring judge standing up for a piece of work on the basis of it’s brilliance.

Lots to work with here. She gave me the thumbs up: ‘Okay, good, readers should like that.’ Wasn’t thinking then that the most amazing thing I saw would be what it was.

Let me start with some of the most amazing things I saw.

I saw a piece of work from South Africa that took my breath away.

Brilliantly innovative. Brilliantly creative. Almost won the Media Grand Prix, did win the Outdoor Grand Prix. The ‘Trillion Dollar’ campaign spread posters in all shapes and sizes in existing and created locations all throughout South Africa for the Zimbabwean newspaper, created using genuine trillion dollar notes. Given the worthlessness of the currency, the cost of using bank notes was less than the cost of printing on paper.

The executions criticized the country’s regime by covering the devalued currency with taglines such as ‘Thanks to Mugabe this money is wallpaper.’ In addition, the same messages were stamped on bank notes and free money was handed out on the streets. Absolutely inspiring work.

Saw the Naked Conversation, a conference session with Paul Woolmington hosting Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall, Nike’s Stefan Olander and Google’s Andy Bernt. Some pretty inspiring gentlemen. The biggest theme from the discussion was the need for agencies to get rid of the silos; the expectation is that we must collaborate to survive and flourish, and that part of this is continual beta. Brands must always be testing and learning with more new initiatives and less reliance on traditional approaches.

Saw Paul Lavoie in the hotel, not giving a conference or anything. Seeing Paul is always amazing.

But, truth be told, the most amazing thing I saw today was a naked man (I didn’t know) knocking on my door at 6:00 am.

Needless to say, I didn’t open the door. He kept running and knocking. His knocking got louder and louder. Must have knocked and run 20 times. Called security. (Me, whispering: ‘There’s a naked man trying to get in my room’). Very startled, French-accented answer: ‘Did you say NAKED?’ Turns out he locked himself out of his room (or something like that, as I tried to hear through the door while the security guards robed him and dealt with him.)