A view from the bottom
A view from Matt Roach, David Lawrie

A view from the bottom

Advertisers are scum - just one of many insights we gained at our first Cannes Lions festival, this one courtesy of Conan O'Brien.

If that’s the case, then Cannes is where the very best scum from all over the world come together to celebrate the year’s least-scummy advertising.

Our first thought on giving a view from the bottom was: "You mean after working our asses off for four years and winning the UK Young Lions competition, we’ve finally made it to… the bottom?"

However, after spending a week among the industry’s elite, we realised that, while we’re no longer quite at the bottom of the ad world, we were still very much at the bottom in Cannes.

Our trip was paid for by The Guardian, the organiser of the UK Young Lions. Teams had 24 hours to respond to a charity brief in their chosen category, ours being print. Winning teams from around the world then competed at the festival. On Saturday, we were briefed by Macmillan Cancer Support. Everyone was eyeing each other up, as if it was possible to gauge creative ability by appearance alone. We developed ideas overnight before coming to the Young Lions Zone in the morning to create our ads.

Working in open booths on gigantic iMacs helpfully meant everyone could see what you were doing.

Each workstation bore a country flag, which was quite surreal. It was like the World Cup. Unfortunately, in true England style, we lost in the penalty shoot-out. But the Young Lions party was epic. Any animosity between competitors vanished as we enjoyed the chance to meet creatives from other countries.

The rest of the festival can be summed up in one word: storytelling. Every other seminar was about telling stories. Despite that, they were useful and had diverse speakers. A highlight was a hungover Jack Black explaining: "The smaller the screen, the shorter my attention span."

There were also many innovations to see – our favourites being the Tokyo agency Party’s dancing sperms and a cinema showcase by SAWA involving 3D glasses that allow you to watch two films simultaneously.

At the awards nights, we noted a secret to success: if you can put Barack Obama in your case study, you’re guaranteed a gold. And we met some inspirational people. I bumped into George Lois, who told me: "Never let anybody fuck with ya." And Dave got a photo of himself with David Droga outside the toilets. As you do.

Then there was the M&C Saatchi party, where we asked people at the top for their perspective on Cannes. What became clear was that with more experience comes less excitement. When you’ve seen it all before, it’s less of an adventure. So perhaps seeing Cannes from the bottom, for the first time, is the best way to see it.

Nah, who are we kidding. The best way must be onstage, receiving a Grand Prix.

Matt Roach is a copywriter and David Lawrie is an art director at M&C Saatchi

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