Every day’s a school day at Cannes…by Anahita Milligan

When you’re working at the Cannes Lions School you have to see all these great speakers – cherry picked from the schedule – come into our classroom and present daily. I know, tough gig right? Then there are all these other amazing things going on over and above the school that you can dip into too. The problem is that you want to see it all but there is always a decision, a sacrifice to be made.

So whenever I had a spare hour to find something on the schedule to see, I was rarely if ever disappointed. Even on the (very) odd occasion that I was unimpressed there was always a lesson to be learnt, something I could apply or some food for thought. After all feeding my own and others’ brain banks was why I was there (not just the rosé, honest!). Here are just a few of the things, a flavour, over and above Masters of Creativity, that I’d like to share; the rest will pepper my work until Cannes next year…

“To thine own self be true” Hamlet

Sir Ian McKellen – That’s right Hamlet, Gandalf, Magneto himself – in conversation with Brooklyn Brothers’ Jackie Stevenson and Gary Reich of Brown Eyed Boy Productions. The discussion centred round the largely positive effect that ‘coming out’ had on Sir Ian McKellen’s career in storytelling and how brands can learn from this by being true to themselves;

  • Come out of the closet
  • Learn to live in a more fluid world
  • Tell stories with truth

Now I can’t do him justice, suffice to say, there were tears!

Next up, Inside the Jury Room to get the inside track, pick up hints and tips for our ‘How to write Killer awards” training. Nothing like hearing from the judges themselves about what they look for, what they make the decisions they make and what it’s like being locked in a room for 17 hours with 300 entries to consider. Eye opening.

Baking on the terrace at Cannes, one of hip-hop duo Run the Jewels discussed how the band’s success was in no small part down to them breaking all the rules, written and unwritten, of the music industry. A technique we use to generate ideas… “We dropped a lot of ideas of what we thought success was and the right way to approach the music industry was, we just said ‘fuck it, let’s just make something fun and give it away.”

“We didn’t feel like we needed a centralised structure. We didn’t want to give up all our ideas and all of our work to someone else. The energy and time we put into making this special is ours, we can come up with the creative partnerships and things we need without having a formal record label.”

If you are not familiar with them, here they are at Glastonbury the day after Cannes.

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