#CannesLions day four: Project Everyone, Unilever’s Keith Weed and retaining creativity

Today might have been dominated by a certain Kim Kardashian West taking to the forum stage at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to talk about her highly successful gaming app, but in the main room there were other big speakers to hear largely discussing the idea of “social good”. Richard Curtis, Sir John Hegarty, Keith Weed and Kenneth Branagh were particular highlights.

1. Introducing Project Everyone and the Global Goals
Purpose, whether it’s about sustainability or something charitable, is always an underlying theme of Cannes Lions. It’s seen in the award winning work, and it’s seen on the seminar stage in terms of what has been achieved or is trying to be achieved. As an integral part of this theme this year, those taking to the podium have focused on calling upon the power of the audience and their own connections to help achieve greater goals. Jamie Oliver did it yesterday with his rally cry surrounding public health, and today there came a headline session with film director Richard Curtis and BBH’s Sir John Hegarty, introducing Project Everyone and the Global Goals.

These goals, said Curtis, are “mission possible”, and a “to do list for the planet”. They aim to end extreme poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change for everyone by 2030. And they’re launching in a big way – with the first ever global cinema campaign on September 25. It will feature members of the UN all agreeing to the goals, and encourage the audience to hold them accountable for making them happen. Hegarty said: “Advertising teaches us if you entertain people you get them to listen. Rather than this constant stream of negativity [the news brings], we want them to say wow, and get behind it.”

2. Connecting purpose with purchase
That message about purpose carried through to Keith Weed of Unilever’s talk this morning too. He said businesses can’t have one person trying to sell more stuff in one corner, and then someone else trying to save the planet in the other. By integrating the two, you can connect purpose with purchase, he explained. He did so by sharing the fact that last year brands built on purpose at Unilever accounted for half of the growth at the company. And they grew twice as fast as other brands. He similarly advocated for the industry to participate together. “Marketers and agencies need to step forward here,” he said. “No one business alone is going to make an impact. It’s something we need to do to together.”

3. Stick to your creative guns
Actor and director Kenneth Branagh focused on not losing faith in your creativity. This was a refreshing departure from the view on how to find and inspire new ideas in the first place, as so often dominates the Cannes stage. He said the challenge or danger of the world we live in is that a movie or TV company can react up until the last minute. So your piece of work might have taken years to create, gone through a significant marinating process, as Branagh called it, and suddenly in the last two weeks need radical change based on what reactions are seen via social media. “Sometimes this flexibility leads to great new ideas, but sometimes it means throwing the creativity baby out of the bath water,” he explained. He urged the audience to stick to their guns and believe in our creativity. He emphasised that going with a fear or panic-based decision, is often like choosing the enemy of creativity.

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