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Wunderman - UK


Let's Get Back To The Creativity: What Wunderman UK Chiefs Made of Cannes 2017

Cannes Lions are the watermark of quality ideas, work and, of course, agencies.

And yet the aftermath of 2017's Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity has been met with a mixture of jubilation from the winners (naturally) and the usaul debate that asks: How can the experience be even better next year.

There's a growing consensus in the industry that Cannes just isn't what it was. With news of some agencies boycotting the awards altogether next year, we asked our Cannes regulars, Richard Dunn and Ian Haworth how they felt about 2017's star-clad event.

Ian Haworth, Wunderman UK Executive Creative Director

"The Young Lions is a highlight for me, and I'd love to see the kids and their talent get more of the limelight. They embody what Cannes Lions used to stand for, and that's pure creativity. Let's get back to that and make them the focal point.

"I'd also like to see the return of whole creative departments descending on Cannes to celebrate the work that they've had a hand in creating. This year felt very celebrity-fuelled, which inevitably saw the work and the creativity take a backseat. The festival needs to mix it up."

"Here's the bottom line - Cannes Lions' main focal point is no longer about the incredible, insightful work coming out of the industry. I'd also call on the clients to continue pushing themselves to be bold and brave. Witnessing inspiring, Cannes Lions winning work is evidence of how bravery pays.

Richard Dunn, Wunderman UK Chief Strategy Officer

"Ian and I decided to do Cannes 'old school' this year. No talks, no seminars - we just concentrated purely on the creative. Alongside our clients, we hunted down the best work of the week and gave our own mini workshops. These are hugely important for us as an agency, especially within the Cannes setting because you can completly immerse yourself.

"But I agree. The nature of the Cannes festival is changing. I feel more and more that people are becoming passive, as opposed to leading, in their contribution. Instead of just listening to talks, people need to actively engage with the work, putting themselves on the line by contributing to the discussion.

"In terms of future trends, there's something to be said about the diminishing power of personalisation. A lot of the time, people just want to feel the special'ness of a whole brand. They don't always want it split into a million pieces. Times have changed, and it's going to take a lot more than a personal email to move someone to action.

Another welcomed observation is that 2017's festival has a shift in focus; less about the tech and more about the idea. This led to some huge pieces of work winning big. Her are some of Ian and Richard's favourites:

Netflix's "Spanish Lessons"

An entertaining piece of work showcasing how to do social listening - the right way.


Impressive innovation showcasing great service design.

Sberbank "Neighbourhoods"

The definition of a useful marketing campaign using data to its advantage.

Child Focus "Coins of Hope"

No campaign is too big, even if it takes years to set up. Coins of Hope is the epitome of bravery and persistance for a greater cause.

Rounding off their thoughts, the pair had some key pieces of advice:

  • Seek truth and purpose
  • Find a partner in crime and make a plan
  • Decide what emotional and cultural response you're aiming for
  • If it doesn't scare you, it's not worth doing

Until next year, Cannes!