Brian Zai, Allison Simms, and Jennifer Jones share their memories of going to the ad industry’s biggest event as Yahoo! Young Media Stars
Editor’s note: Our three U.S. winners of the 2013 Yahoo! Young Media Stars competition are back at their desks after attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity as our guests. While their adventures are still fresh in their minds, we asked them to share their memories of the trip.
Brian Zai, OMD:
One word sums up my trip to Cannes Lions: “Amazing.” Having the opportunity to attend seminars, workshops, and networking events with top industry leaders was truly a once-in-a-life time experience. Looking back, three experiences really stood out for me.
The first was sharing this journey with the seven other winners of the competition. This was the first year that the Yahoo! Young Media Stars was international. Learning how your job is done differently in other countries is enlightening, and meeting people from around the world and learning about their cultures was truly rewarding.
The second was meeting with Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB, and Nancy Hill, President and CEO of 4A’s. I came away realizing that these senior executives share the same concerns about the industry as me and my peers, and the passion and enthusiasm they have to resolve those issues is motivating. I really felt like we’re all working toward the same goals.
The third was a seminar titled “Free Elvis: How to Unleash your Inner Creativity.” It really opened my eyes on how to free up the powers of creativity and innovation in myself and other people too. As the marketplace becomes more cluttered, it gets harder for brands to stand out. By infusing creativity into all aspects of our work and throughout our organizations, we’ll help make our clients stand out and be successful.
I’ll carry every moment and memory of this trip with me throughout my career. I want to want to thank my friends and family, and of course Yahoo!, for this great opportunity. Looking ahead, I’ll be encouraging others to participate in this amazing competition.
Allison Sims, MEC Global
When I told friends outside the industry that I was going to Cannes for the festival of creativity, they asked, “What is it?” When I said it was like the Golden Globes or Academy Awards of the advertising world, their response was, “How strange.”
From an outsider’s perspective, it must seem weird that we obsess over something that most people barely glance at. But when I thought about what the festival means, it’s not really about that 30-second, or app, or billboard. It’s about the art of advertising that we all practice and honoring those who have produced outstanding work. The festival is the celebration of the collaboration that has happened over the past 12 months to achieve great results for our clients. It’s the final release for all those “blood, sweat, and tears” along the way, giving agencies, clients and partners the chance to have a glass of rosé together on the Croisette.
During my time in Cannes, I saw quite a few of the speakers from agencies to celebrities. A common theme from the speakers was that as creative professionals we’re not good enough, that the industry is in decline, and that we can’t just talk creativity, we need to live it. The festival becomes a big industry pep talk, inspiring us on our endless pursuit of perfection.
The experience has given me time to reflect, refocus, and to move forward with new perspective. And I disagree with the notion that the industry is declining. I think we’re in an incredible time, with all kinds of technological tools available to us. It’s only creativity that’s holding us back. In the words of Vivienne Westwood (a legendary fashion designer who spoke at Cannes), we need to “honor the authentic self, not the ordinary self” to be truly creative. Only then can we create work that will change the world.
Jennifer Jones, Initiative Media:
In a word, the trip to the Cannes Lions festival was unbelievable. I got to spend the greater part of a week speaking with our industry’s thought leaders, exploring Cannes, and ignoring the notion of sleep. The festival itself was incredible. When I wasn’t taking in the stunning beach-side views, I spent the majority of my days attending seminars. While the headliner seminars definitely drew in crowds, usually with the help of a big name company or celebrity, the smaller, more intimate seminars were often my favorites. MediaCom hosted one of those smaller, yet incredibly inspiring seminars called “Free Elvis” and shared their take on how to best tap into your creativity.
Outside of the seminars, I was able to have some truly inspiring meetings with industry leaders who were kind enough to spend time speaking with myself along with the other Young Media Star winners. The other seven winners definitely added to the Cannes experience by providing both great company and the ability to view media trends and challenges through the lens of someone from a different country and media background. We often joked that our group of Yahoo! Young Media Stars would be aptly suited for a media version of MTV’s “Real World.”
The experience as a whole was inspiring and has sent me back to my normal work environment with a new level of enthusiasm and the desire to eat croissants constantly.