Wednesday 24 January 2018

Irish reign on Riviera with marriage equality campaign as stars flock to festival

US TV host Ryan Seacrest and Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams onstage as iHeartMedia hosts a talk about creativity during the Cannes Lions Festival at Grand Audi Theater, Palais
US TV host Ryan Seacrest and Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams onstage as iHeartMedia hosts a talk about creativity during the Cannes Lions Festival at Grand Audi Theater, Palais

Tania Banotti

Irish adland is celebrating success, beating challengers from around the globe at this year's Cannes Lions festival - the world's biggest awards for the creative communications industry.

Dublin agency Rothco picked up a bronze award for its 'Shred of Decency' campaign in support of a Yes vote in the recent marriage equality referendum.

It puts them alongside Ogilvy Dublin, whose ground-breaking work for ISPCC was presented with a similar honour a few years ago. A team from Rothco spoke right after reality TV star Kim Kardashian on the theme 'Blood, Sex and Storytelling - what Shakespeare can teach us about turning crowds into audiences'.

Advertisers from Ireland at the festival include Heineken's marketing director Sharon Walsh and Tom Kinsella, group marketing director at AIB. Both arrived in town in time to see the best marketing communications on show in their respective categories.

The festival continues to amaze. All the serious talk is done in the Palais des Festivals, with dozens of presentations on the hour every hour and screenings of the top campaigns from around the globe.

The geographic diversity confirms that the power of a good idea, based on a universal human experience we all recognise, works best.

Some of the most powerful work has been for charities, such as The Gun Shop's 'Every gun has a history, let's not repeat it'. It's worth checking out on YouTube. Some of the simplest ideas are the best. Everyone knows children hate putting on sun cream. Nivea came up with a neat solution using a doll.

Ireland's delegates competing in the Young Lions competitions for creatives aged under 28 were given two communication challenges. One team was asked to join the fight against malaria.

Their target? To come up with a media campaign to inspire at least 20 major businesses and high net worth individuals to join the Malaria 2030 group.

The second pair must collect 5m online signatures in the next 100 days for the #upforschool petition, ahead of the UN Summit in September. And they must do it with no money. All within 48 hours!

The festival is no longer just an ad fest. Speakers in recent days include Viola Davis, star of TV series 'How to Get Away with Murder' and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Musician Pharrell Williams and internet inventor Tim Berners Lee are here to speak too.

The talks by Kardashian and Oliver were delayed due to a strike by taxi drivers opposed to new Uber platform.

It's ironic really, given the amount of discussion at the conference about the role technology can play in simplifying our lives.

One constant is the question, what does the future hold? The more futuristic talks focus on developments some years out. Many feel the power of artificial intelligence has reached a tipping point and may impact on our lives dramatically in the next decade.

Tim Berners Lee spoke a little incoherently about this. Meanwhile, design studios that combine architects, storytellers and digital designers took us on a journey into some amazing physical buildings they create.

We got to see immersive spaces that emote, adapt and personalise in real time. The most impressive example was from a firm called Local Projects, which designed the 9/11 memorial in New York and the recently-opened Cooper Hewitt national design museum in Washington DC.

Visitors to the museum get to create their own wallpaper and the walls come alive with their design. All the work of the museum is available on a huge screen. You can draw on it and see if your image has links to a masterpiece in the collection.

It's hard to describe in words, but visitors seems to be enchanted.

Tania Banotti is CEO of the Institute of Advertising Practitioners of Ireland

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