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Industry Contributor 29 Jun 2020 - 2 min read

Cannes Live: Coming into a time of standout creativity

By Tara Ford, Chief Creative Officer - DDB Sydney

As an industry, we reflect and respond to the times to be relevant and effective. And it’s an understatement to say there’s been a lot going on lately. We’ve all had to pause from our daily ‘busy’ to re-evaluate what’s important.

Collectively we put so many messages out in the world that can have a profound impact. It is an opportunity, a privilege and a responsibility. Many clients and agencies are questioning what they can do, how they can help and how they can show up now and prepare for the future

Not surprisingly much of the content in the Cannes Lions, ‘Lions Live’ experience delved into these issues.

To that end, purpose is still high on the agenda with an emphasis on action over gestures. And inclusion and accessibility within our industry and our work also ran through much of the content.

There was a look at what historically comes out of recession for our industry. Evidence showed clients that think beyond the current crisis and invest in brand now would reap the rewards handsomely, in some cases, for decades to come.

Times of turmoil also often see an intense and accelerated period where creativity flourishes. Many spoke about the power of creativity right now, to problem solve, to sooth and connect. So, I expect (and hope) that we are coming into a time of standout creativity in our industry. Not only the work but how and where we talk to consumers.

For the work, we can expect a focus on emotion and humanity. The return to simple human needs and the power of simple connections, empathy and relevance in people’s lives. If this all sounds a bit serious don’t worry, the inevitable flipside of this is that people will also crave humour, irreverence and lightness also as a moment of relief.

So, what are the differences between this year’s online experience and being in Cannes?

The obvious positive is that everyone can experience it. There’s no financial barrier so access is inclusive. And that’s a great thing.

The talks are shorter, and there are fewer of them. But the spread is still good. Tech. Craft. CMOs. Creative inspiration, Jury presidents. Brand stories and insights. Historical and cultural. The agency behind the scenes and personal stories.…. and of course, the work itself.

As for Cannes in person, the experience is what you make it. If you choose, it can be all rose, lunches and boats. Some fun for the inevitable hard work that’s got you there. It can be networking and catching up with old friends. It can be about the work, inspiration and education. Or a combination of all those things. (My recommendation). And this, sadly, cannot be replicated online. 

But what I really miss, is the talk between the presentations and shows. Those global, mind-blowing, get-you-out-of-your-little-part-of-the-world revelations and epiphanies that leave you creatively recharged and better equipped to guide the work for the year ahead. You leave wanting to be better.

It’s also what I miss most about the process of creativity over this lockdown period. The moments between the meetings and the presentations. When we can get together and chew the fat and theorise. Because this is the ‘chat’ that has the power to inspire and energise and sometimes even ignite an idea into the stratosphere with a throw-away, maybe-what-if pondering. There is a kind of alchemy when people are together, just being. And there isn’t any replacement for that, especially when connection is more important than ever.

Connection within our creative departments, agencies, clients, the industry and with consumers. Hell, human connection between all of us. There’s simply no substitute.

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Tara Ford, Chief Creative Officer

DDB Sydney

Tara Ford is the Chief Creative Officer of DDB Sydney and Board Member of the Communications Council of Australia. She has made a career from mold-breaking creative leadership and iconic creative work.

In just over a year, her creative leadership helped DDB Sydney win Campaign Brief Agency of the Year, a title it hadn’t held for more than a decade. Her work has been consistently recognised throughout her career, at every major international award show, across clients and disciplines. This includes Cannes and Spikes Grand Prix. Her GAYTM campaign for ANZ Bank was also named the ‘Best Direct campaign in the World for 2014’ by the Big Won and #1 ‘Best of Print/Outdoor/Design’ by

She is a sought after industry speaker and active mentor to young creative. 

In between this, Tara her raises her four, spirited boys.

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