I am meeting with Phil Thomas, the CEO of the Cannes Lions. As we sip our fresh juices at a small beachfront café, we discuss the festival’s massive expansion since he took over as CEO in 2006. At the time, there was just the Lions festival in Cannes, now there are six festivals around world. I ask Phil what other changes he has observed over the years.
Phil considers the question for a moment. “Well there’s lots of things of course: the festival is constantly growing, every year we attract more delegates, and every year we see that among the delegates there are more CMOs and CEOs. That’s a fairly new development.”
“CEOs?” I ask, puzzled. “What are they doing here?”
“They come here to connect to the world’s greatest creative talents – they want to work with them. There is a growing realization that creativity can advance a brand, and CEOs obviously want to maximize their brand’s value.”
“But why do CEOs attach importance to winning a Lion?”
“Winning a Lion makes a brand attractive to agencies,” Phil explains. “It shows that the brand attaches importance to creativity and it offers agencies a chance to win a Lion too. And from the brand’s point of view, working with these top-level agencies brings better results for the brand, the company and the market value. And of course, if a company wins a Lion, it will attract more high-level employable talent.”
“Makes sense,” I say. “So you definitely see a trend towards creativity, or rather, companies recognizing the importance of creativity for their brand?”
“Yes,” says Phil. “But it’s not just companies, also governments: last year the Puerto Rican Banco Popular won a Grand Prix for a campaign to get Puerto Ricans back to work. This year, the country’s government is sending delegates to explore what else they could achieve through this type of creative branding.”
“Wow, Puerto Rico!” I say. “That’s unexpected!”
“Well that’s actually what’s interesting,” says Phil. “We’re seeing a definite shift towards the Next World – that’s also reflected in the fact that we now have six festivals around the world, not just Cannes.”
“Well I’m very curious to discover new brands and listen to this year’s keynote speakers,” I say.
Phil nods. “I think there’s going to be some fascinating sessions. You should definitely come with me to the briefing of the Titanium Jury tomorrow.”
“Any other highlights I should look out for?” I ask.
“The awarding of the first Cannes LionHeart! That will be brilliant I think.”
“A LionHeart? What’s that?”
“It’s a new category we created to reward the work of a person or organisation that, through innovative use of commercial brand power, has made a significant and positive difference to people or the planet. It’s an award we only plan to award in exceptional circumstances, for those initiatives that have really made a lasting impact.”
“Wow,” I say, “I’ll definitely go and see that!”
© 2014 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
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