From Texas to Cannes and Back, Part 2


To wrap-up the last days at Cannes and start this short week fresh, below are the last notes from our Chief Idea Officer, aka Wegs. Long live Inspiration, Creativity and the Future.


1. Creators & Makers: Agencies as Product Producers

“If I were a client…”

Agency peeps, let’s be honest. We’ve all uttered this phrase before. Sometimes in the spirit of collaboration, sometimes out of sheer frustration. It’s a phrase that is often succeeded by one or more versions of the following questions:

“Why can’t they see what I see?”

“Has their bureaucracy made them batty?”

“Can it really be that hard?”

Well, judging from the conversations at Cannes, more & more agencies are looking to answer these questions for themselves. They’re starting to become clients. Not full-time clients, but rather everyday ad people producing products within the walls of their agencies on behalf of their agencies.

Crispin, Porter & Bogusky has an entire division dedicated to such efforts.  In fact, they were happy to announce to a forum that they were hosting that one of their joint ventures, a rum called Papa’s Pilar, just sold for a nice chunk of change. Over a hundred million dollars!

Meanwhile, another agency called TMW Unlimited created a monitoring device to prevent Alzheimer’s patients from wandering off on their own. A rather noble cause.

So whether it’s for humanitarian or capitalistic reasons, agencies are stretching their creativity into the realms of production.

Perhaps these kinds of commitments will help agencies make more money.

Or make the world a better place.

Or at least give agencies a better idea of how to empathize with their clients.

Regardless, the line between creating & making is becoming more & more blurred as ad agencies seek to reinvent themselves.


2. “Here’s to the Future”

— Arnold Penney, 1923-2015

After my last seminar yesterday, I received a phone call here in Cannes from Michigan informing me that Arnold Penney had just died. At 92, he was literally my oldest friend.

Arnie served in World War II. And until his last breath, every day he wore 3 sets of dog tags. One was his. The other two belonged to Japanese soldiers that Arnie had killed in hand-to-hand combat.

But Arnie didn’t wear those tags as trophies. He wore them out of respect. And every morning he would say a prayer for their souls.

And Arnie was definitely not one to live in the past. In fact, at the close of all our visits, we would raise our glasses and Arnie would propose this toast: “Here’s to the future!”

Even in his ’90s, Arnie loved keeping up with technology and a world that had seen quite a bit of change over the course of his lifetime. He even invested in Apple and other tech stocks. “You can’t live in the past, Wegs,” Arnie told me, even though he was over 40 years older than me.

And it’s that spirit that sums up the spirit of the festival here at Cannes. Always be curious. Always be passionate. Always move forward. Arnie would have loved it — just like so many loved him and his relentless spirit to keep living, to keep making things better.

So to all of those here at the festival, or here in spirit, keep creating. Keep pushing. And keep drawing from the spirit of those like Arnold Penney who, if he were here, would undoubtedly be leading all of us to raise our glasses together and toast…

Here’s to the future!


3. Inspiration Junkies

As I reflect on the final day of my first, but hopefully not last, trip to Cannes, I have a nagging fear.

The fear that those of us who are fortunate enough to attend such events often dread…

That the inspiration and energy we feel surging through our veins here will be short-lived. Fleeting. And then, just like that…gone. Worse yet, that sheer energy finds itself transforming into pure emptiness. Yearning for another fix of another festival. Another conference. And if we can’t score one of those, then we’ll reach for the nearest book, workshop or webinar to get us through.

It’s like an addiction. And trust me, there are more than a few full-blown junkies. “Inspiration Junkies.” People who have had their tickets paid for, but struggle to pay forward the ideas that they’ve collected to share with their teams and agencies for the betterment of all.

So let’s hope that this year more attendees come back from Cannes with more than a healthy tan.

At Dieste, the agency I belong to, all four of us here at the festival are committed to holding at least two sessions back in the office to share our learnings, and give a feel of what it was like to experience our industry’s most prestigious event — and to be on-hand to see the agency win two Lions to boot.

Meanwhile, during the event, we created daily content to be tweeted, blogged and bludgeoned into every effective form we could think of it. Because the best way to fight inspiration addiction is to take great thinking and put it toward great doing, inspiring others while changing things yourself.

So what am I going to do personally to turn my addiction into addition? Well, inspired by the work, talks and workshops here at Cannes, I’m going to spearhead the way we brief & collaborate together to deliver the best work possible.

And I’m giving myself a deadline. We’ll have complete buy-in and new tools by the last day of July, or I may face utter public humiliation.

It’s a bit of a scary proposition but what I’ve learned is that change & innovation is never comfortable. And by making the ideal real, we can break the inspiration addiction, and move on to what all truly creative people do best: make a difference by provoking action.