Friday 14 June 2019 6:12 am

DEBATE: Is Cannes Lions still relevant to the advertising industry?

Rory Hamilton is chief creative officer and partner at Boys + Girls.
and Chris Donnelly
Chris Donnelly is founder and managing director of Verb Brands.

Is Cannes Lions still relevant to the advertising industry?

Rory Hamilton, chief creative officer and partner at Boys + Girls, says YES.

Of course Cannes is still relevant. Whatever you think of it as a festival, or its infamous excess, it champions creativity. That week on the French Riviera celebrates the most creative work from around the world and promotes ideas that push the boundaries of what we consider “advertising”.

Yes, more and more of that work has been designed only to win Lions. But even those agency initiatives serve as a guide to what we, as an industry, could and should be doing as best practice.

Cannes inspires clients and agencies to try harder and to push further by embracing the successes of those trailblazers who define what comes next. It takes us away from the day-to-day of the industry, offering a rare chance to immerse ourselves in the best work from around the globe.

What comes next is shaped at Cannes. Nothing helps raise your game than being around the best of the best. And the rosé doesn’t do any harm.

Chris Donnelly, founder and managing director of Verb Brands, says NO.

When in Cannes, do as the creatives do. Except these days, creatives are few and far between.

The industry is so little about creativity anymore, it’s no wonder that the biggest yachts all belong to tech firms and management consultancies. But this was inevitable. The so-called celebration of creativity has for a long time been little more than an industry self-congratulating itself.

Great marketing is driven by messages that resonate with customers and genuinely drive return for a brand. But the ads that win awards are those that please the advertising industry alone.

Is that a benchmark we should be aiming for? Pleasing only that bubble? It is surely more appropriate to focus on what actually moves the needle for brands. Anything else is just self-serving noise, like most awards and industry accolades these days.

Cannes is just an industry knees-up. It’s interesting certainly, but relevant? Ask instead what is actually relevant to your clients – especially those weathering the Brexit storm.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.