The Festival Is Growing Up: HOY's Ernest Riba On Cannes

Ernest Riba
Managing Director HOY

Tell us about yourself and your current role.

I'm from Barcelona, and I´ve been living in Buenos Aires for 8 years now. I grew up professional as a strategic planner, ran a marketing R&D biz later, and today along with Pedro Di Risio, I'm Managing Director at HOY the new creative entrepreneurship from Havas Group in Latin America.


Did Cannes meet your expectations this year? Was there anything you found disappointing?

I expected to meet with who I consider the best talent in the region and the world. And of course, meeting with friends, former teams and clients that today are spread around the globe. In that sense, I can say that the festival certainly fulfilled my expectations.

As for the festival itself, although on the surface we couldn´t see greater changes, a slow revolution can be felt. The event is opening to new audiences, giving the content proposal a greater value and depth at the hands of organizations as Warc and Medialink. It seems that the festival is growing up.


Is there any advice you have for first time attendees? What should they expect/prepare for?

I would remind them that most campaigns and lectures can be found online, although Cannes is the only place in this industry that gives you the possibility to connect with the people behind them. That for me is the main value of the Cannes Lions experience.


What was your greatest take-away from this year’s festival?

In recent years we´ve let technologists lead the discussion around the "role" and "functioning" of brands. We gave ground to an utilitarian discourse that left less and less space for emotion as a facilitator of human behavior and, ultimately, of business.

Today I found that the industry is resurging after a few dizzy years. Again, we are trying to drive the conversation around the value of creativity, applied for commercial purposes. Pointing to campaigns, brands and professionals who are really doing their job well, we are recovering some ideas that we should never have lost, such as confidence that brave creativity lead to better results, the essential of placing ideas in the public space to build collective brand imaginaries or the recognition of the anodyne importance that brands have in people's daily lives.


What are your thoughts on clients (brands) being increasingly presentnat the festival and even entering winning campaigns on their own?

I see it as something very positive that's moving forward in revealing the new ecosystems of power around brands. Something that includes among others things, the rise of a new starsystem of advertisers that with it vision and courage is convincing it peers about commercial value of brands and ideas. 


We heard quotes like “The new heroes of the industry are not the creative anymore but the CMO’s”, what do you think of this?

It seems fair and necessary to recognize the role of the CMOs in great campaigns, like many other profiles historically forgotten. Instead, I don't feel comfortable placing it as an opposition where the rise of CMO's is on the detriment of creatives. I firmly believe that we are in the age of addition and that big brands today need both great creatives and great CMOs, as well as strategists or developers, or any other talent profiles.

There have been a lot of conversations around ‘Brands with purpose’topic at this year’s festival. How do you think the agencies can take this beyond talk and make an actual difference in the world?

This year I felt less emphasis around the concept of "purpose", a formula that's finally running out for all brands in all categories. In my opinion, it never had the necessary numerical support. That doesn't mean, I don't recognize a new generation of companies that are achieving better business results due a better balance in their equation of commercial and social value, and that traditional corporations could learn some things from them. In any case, I would talk about companies with purpose rather than brands with purpose.

What was the most memorable moment of the festival for you?

After knowing about our Film Lion with the "My Name" campaign for Forbes, I would say that the most memorable moment was the Lion of St. Mark deliver to Goodby & Silverstein. The recognition and the speeches were both very emotional. And seeing their reel again, made me remember why I wanted to dedicate myself to this industry.


What should be improved for next year’s festival?

I see it in the the right direction. I really like that the festival is recovering ground not only as a global stage for the best creative ideas, but also as a strong pole on the importance of creativity and ideas as the motor of business.