Blog: A first-timer’s view of Cannes

Anne Stewart, president of Maxus Canada, on what she learned on her first trip to the festival, and why the world will be more creative again next week.

By Ann Stewart

I have survived my first time at the Cannes Lion International Festival.

What a magical place! The lights, action and excitement flow gracefully every morning into every night.

Young and old from all corners of the earth, we descended upon Cannes to be both celebrated and inspired. It’s a place where things just happen. Whether you are in the city, in a conference or just meeting new people, there is an energy here that simply breeds connection!

What do I take from this monumental event? The brands that are shining have learned that insight and technology need to be brought together while underpinning a message about the common good. They have demonstrated the courage to challenge convention and inspire a movement, (i.e. #Likeagirl). This thought was echoed by big name speakers, like Pharrell Williams and Jamie Oliver, who also showed that great brands can inspire new and exciting ideas. When it works, they said, the message comes from an authentic place, proving that the combination of the message’s importance and the success of its delivery gives no cause for apology around generating revenue at the same time.

How do brands accomplish this? What I take away from Cannes is that knowing how to do this should be in your DNA. If it isn’t then look within your core and find your purpose. Then be clear and honest about it and – in Jamie Oliver’s words – “exchange on a currency of trust.” That nugget rang true to me because in today’s cynical world there are brands that have the power to reassure and inspire consumers, despite the confusion caused by the absence of transparency.

So what has this experience taught me? It has reaffirmed my belief that great ideas, thoughts and messages can come from anyone, anywhere who has the passion, belief and confidence to put it out into the world and see what it becomes. It was said today that only 1% of the world is truly creative. If that’s true then surely they have all come together in Cannes this week, and I have been blessed to be a part if it.

By the end of Cannes 2015 Canada will have hopefully won a record amount of Lions. Clearly, we are a nation that understands great ideas.

Ann Stewart is president at Maxus Canada

Also from Cannes:

Blog: UM’s Ryan Van Dongen on the changing face of storytelling

Always wins Media Gold, Canadian Young Lions take Silver

In the jury room with… Media Experts’ Penny Stevens

Blog: Cannes – the revenge of media