Why Cannes Lions is the Realest Event of the Year

How the industry can unite behind the impact of storytelling.

By John Partilla, CEO, Screenvision Media 

It’s Cannes Lions time again. Each year I look forward to this gathering and not just because it features rosé and rooftop meetings on the French Riviera (although that doesn’t hurt). This is the industry event that inevitably refocuses everyone on that most vital foundation—the craft and enduring impact of compelling storytelling.

No matter whether you’re a brand, agency, publisher, technologist or other part of the marketing world, creative impact is a key connective tissue. No matter what part of the value chain you serve, everyone benefits when creative messages are seen, heard, felt and, most of all, deeply resonate with impact.

Accomplishing this is easier said than done because marketers see this from different lenses—some create, some produce, some drive decisions, some buy media, some leverage data, some offer media platforms and so on and so on.

Actually, understanding the various roles and ways marketers can help each other is increasingly essential as everyone ­becomes more connected to each other’s outcomes. This seems to be the time of year when ears get bigger, defenses come down, personal bridges are built and renewed, and conversations are the most real. People not only talk, but genuinely listen about what everyone is trying to do, what the industry needs to do better and how to help and benefit each other more.

So, despite its superficial trappings, Cannes Lions is actually the most “real” event of the year for me.

Make creative count

Marketplace fragmentation has parsed marketing into separate silos. This results in less-than-holistic marketing strategies, compartmentalized creative and media efforts, and overly tactical choices that sometimes can result in a plan that looks great on paper, but falls short in resonance and impact.

I appreciate that while the industry wants to find new ways to connect with audiences, it still needs proven solutions that are real and tangible and that powerfully resonate with consumers.

This is the time to more fully appreciate the canvases and platforms on which advertising messaging is displayed.  People want to be awed by advertising creative. They want to be moved, inspired,and entertained by great stories. These stories need to be put in places where people can be affected by them. Give your creative a grand home. Make it count!

Real results matter

Not all impressions are created equal. While I will be doing more than my fair share of listening at Cannes, I will also respectfully espouse that the cinema canvas provides the most real and powerful impact storytelling in an increasingly fragmented landscape. I also know full well this represents just a small part of the overall solution. This is how we at Screenvision can play a part and have real value to offer each other.

Cannes is where the industry reminds itself real results matter most, and that real, genuine conversation is the best starting point to ultimately achieve that goal. Most of all, it’s a reminder of how difficult the craft of this business is—the art and toil of storytelling and the increasing challenge of getting these messages seen, heard and absorbed.

So if once a year I have to break out the linen shirts to have these conversations, then so be it. Frankly, it’s something that should be done more than once a year. This is the best time of year for the industry to share how we best help each other, where we slow down a bit, think and listen a bit more. Where we take a moment to smell the roses, or more appropriately, sip the rosé.


John Partilla is the CEO of Screenvision Media. 









This article orginally appeared on Adweek