’s David Jenkin caught up with him to chat about his upcoming trip to France. You’re no stranger to the Cannes circuit having won a Gold, Silver, and Bronze Cannes Lion in the past, but have you been on the jury bench before? How do you feel about it?
This is the second time I have been given the privilege to sit on the jury at Cannes
. I have previously sat on the Direct Lions
panel, this time it’s the Outdoor Lions
. Regardless of what panel one sits on, being exposed to the best the world has to offer, whilst getting into discussions with some of the world’s brightest advertising minds, is an experience that is irreplaceable. What kind of work are you hoping to see?
When you say ‘outdoor', people generally think ‘billboard’, ‘poster’, or ‘building wrap’, but this is no longer the case. The Outdoor
category has undergone a huge transformation over the years. It is as much about what you do as it is about where and when you do it.
It can be a petrol station that pumps fuel made from beer, a live billboard that transformed an advertising channel into an entertainment channel, when people’s destinies were controlled via the Internet in a gripping reality show, or a recreation of a famous artist’s painting of an 1888 bedroom as an actual bedroom that you could book to stay in for a night on Airbnb.
I’m curious to see where the world has taken this hugely powerful channel. The companies that have been brave enough to do the unthinkable often redefine the category and that brings the biggest of accolades.What kinds of themes do you expect will be dominant this year? Do you think new tech like AR and VR will still be occupying headlines?
It is the work with the biggest ideas, regardless of budget or tech, which occupy the headlines. Outdoor
is literally where the world is going. The art of storytelling – the art of the idea – will ultimately re-emerge once everyone is over this infatuation with the tech that allows us to deliver the ideas.
Is the world over this infatuation yet? Probably not. But, in the years that follow, when we look back, it’s the work that has powerful ideas and great storytelling at its heart that stands the test of time. Following Cannes last year, John Hunt (TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris co-founder and worldwide creative director) spoke about the problematic tendency in South Africa to play it safe – would you attribute that to economic difficulty? Do you expect the trend to continue?
Yes, in South Africa, this has been a growing trend over the years. The ‘numbers’ people grab the steering wheel during tough times and they want guarantees, so everything is researched and researched again. Iconic ideas hardly ever test well when put to the ‘research test’. So playing it safe, or incremental change, is the driving agenda. After all, you can’t get fired for doing what the research suggested you do.
South Africa has, for the first time since I started working in advertising, lost the privilege of having a representative sit on the film jury at Ca
nnes, because our film, as a country, is so below world standards that we haven’t featured in a big way in years.
The world looks at TV as one channel of many, and, in many instances, not as the driving channel in their comms. In South Africa, all bets are on TV. So TV is tortured and overly pressurised to deliver everything that a client wants to say, all at once, in 30 seconds, with the terms and conditions and a 5-second tag-on to punt a promo. So these generally become big, stinky, piles of poo and no-one really notices them. What do you think would need to change in the approach of clients and agencies in order to see stronger and bolder work emerging?
It comes down to an aligned belief in certain values and purpose. What are your thoughts on Pepsi’s recent blunder with the Kendall Jenner ad?
I can’t really say anything that hasn’t already been said, except for, perhaps, that a person who is only famous for being famous, is now even more famous because of it. This is the world we live in. In the years that pass, everyone will forget the Pepsi ad, but they will still remember, and know about, Kendall.
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Interested in the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity
? Read more in our article, TBWA discusses Cannes Lions 2016