When to pack your bag for Cannes

Nitish Mukherjee | Updated on March 10, 2018

Nitish Mukherjee

When the fire within you is raging to pit yourself against the best. Because it is here that you have one of the greatest arenas of creativity in the world. That can lacerate you, humble you or reverberate your roar across the planet. Who rules the jungle is crowned here. And every year it surprises as every boundary is ruthlessly demolished and new frontiers established. Late in the night at the Gutter Bar I met this young man who said without sadness or angst “Four years my entries have not even made it to the shortlist. Which only means I need to work harder and smarter. Not getting a Lion is not an option for me”.

When the thirst for knowledge brings you to the shores of wisdom as the old and wise lions roar in the seminar halls of the Palais. Where you listen with bated breath as Mark Pritchard of Procter & Gamble shows you how creativity has imbued some of the most powerful brands in the world with emotion and relevance or Bono surprises you with how creativity is helping ameliorate the biggest of scourges that inflict the world. Where you come face-to-face with the new technologies that are reshaping our lives and see how creativity is using the emerging opportunities to engage consumers in many meaningful ways. When you hear with child like wonder from Neil Harbisson how technology helps him hear colours because he can’t see them. You realise that cyborgs are now for real. If there is a window to peek into the future, the corridors of the Palais and the many animated conversations on the Promenade de la Croisette are your best bet.

When you are looking to make a big change. To reboot, to rekindle. There is nothing that can help you transform your thinking in the shortest possible time as an immersion into the finest and bravest work across categories and geographies. Or hearing Mark Tutssel explain how the three words ‘simple, easy enjoyment’ helped orchestrate great creative work on McDonalds across the world. If you are brave enough to walk up to the legendary creative powerhouses and engage with them in a conversation, Cannes is possibly the only place where that dream may come true. The festival at Cannes has the power to change your world- view if you will open your mind to its influences. Almost a decade ago one of the largest multi-nationals P & G made news when a very large number of them came to the festival. Today their creative work wows the world and has inspired many other clients to participate with greater enthusiasm.

You can come to the Cannes Lions Festival for any reason. And they may range from the ridiculous to sublime. From it being the most important week in your social calendar to it being your tryst with destiny. You will probably find what you want here. But if you have not experienced its ‘power to change’ you might as well have come only up to Nice or Marseilles. The cocktail of creativity, innovation and passion that you see through the week and the work that you see that best enshrines it, leaves a lasting impact. To be amongst the best and the most inspired can give a rush of adrenaline and a fillip in ambition that can last long after the Palais doors have closed and the red carpet has been rolled up. If you haven’t felt that rush then a week in Disneyland would have been a better alternative.

As the drumrolls serenading the walk to fame at the Palais, the chatter in the cafes along the Croisette, the music and laughter of endless nights on the beach, give way to equally boisterous farewells and high fives with promises to meet again the waterfront inexorably reclaims its quietude and the unending sound of gentle waves in the Mediterranean remind you that the brief interlude is over. But it will be back in a year. So, you have to pack your bags now and start on the journey to the next celebration of creativity. From now till then the lion must roar within you everyday for you to walk the Croisette and roar with the lions.

(Nitish Mukherjee is Strategic Advisor - South Asia, Leo Burnett Group India)

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Published on June 26, 2014
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