Every year in late June, the global advertising community descends on Cannes, France for the Cannes Lions Festival the glitzy awards show that celebrates the best work in the industry. It's a sight to behold, with 11,000 agency folk, clients and technology companies from every corner of the earth coming together in one place. There's constant buzz with provocative conversations, parties galore and a show of amazing creativity.
Yet, this year it felt a bit like the Roman Empire during the Age of Caligula, one of history's most tyrannical leaders. Don't get me wrong — I love a good party. But, while the industry is partying, all on the client's dime, the world around us is radically changing as digital technology evolves the way we all communicate.
The contrast really becomes evident when some of the advertising industry's luminaries take the stage. One of my favorite moments came during an on-stage conversation between George Lois who created several powerful covers for Esquire, including the iconic one featuring Muhammad Ali as St. Sebastian, pinned by arrows, and Lee Clow. The discussion was fun and lively but the last line threw me for a loop: Lois ended the session by saying, "At the end of the day, it's about finding clients who let you do great work. And if they don't let you do great work, fuck 'em."