Simon Bolton, worldwide CEO, The Brand Union
Simon Bolton, worldwide CEO, The Brand Union
A view from Simon Bolton

Think BR: Competition, collaboration and creative output

Cannes is showing that collaboration can be cruicial in driving creativity, writes Simon Bolton, worldwide CEO, The Brand Union.

Cannes Week is drawing to a close and the 59th Festival of Creativity has seen a massive spike in the number of entries coming through from agencies across the world seeking recognition for their brand thinking.

Over the past few years we have seen Cannes shed it’s ‘adland only’ image and it is swiftly becoming a melting pot of global talent from design, branded content, online and direct disciplines all rubbing shoulders to shine a light on cutting edge brand campaigns.

The creative industries in their various forms are often rife with competitiveness, whether due to fighting for budget on a brand brief or struggling for status as the current hot property in their discipline, a matter which often comes down to how innovative their campaign work is perceived to be.

Our professional spheres put a high premium on innovation, and Cannes is one of the few truly international places where agency divisions can come down (often at 3am at one of the many bars and parties) and it’s possible to simply celebrate innovative approaches in their many varied forms.

Because the Cannes Lions were founded to showcase the very best in global creative output and because so many people from so many industries will be in the Cannes crucible in the same place, it’s also a great place to get to know other disciplines and foster collaboration.

This is a tricky term in creative communications, simply because so many agencies are often striving for the same budgets and briefs.

However it’s unrealistic to think that one agency cannot learn and even take inspiration from another, just as it is unlikely that one agency can remain consistently innovative. American automotive designer Freeman Thomas, creator of the new VW Beetle and the Audi TT, once said that: "Good design begins with honesty, asks tough questions, comes from collaboration and from trusting your intuition."

In my experience, creative industries are good at going with their gut when it comes to developing exceptional ideas.

They are less good at working with others to progress these bright ideas and capitalise on their potential to the fullest. True inspiration is so revered - it is a natural urge to want to keep it within the company you work for, to own the idea with the client.

It is not however helpful when it comes to splitting the idea out across different customer touchpoints, especially in an increasingly fragmenting environment.

The thinking behind the CannesAlso project and its home at the Play, Make, Master pavilion at the heart of the festival space is to celebrate the creative beyond the branded communications so central to the Cannes Lions Awards programme.

It has been amazing to see people from typically competing agencies and client companies come together to be inspired, to learn new techniques and to step out of their usual media spheres and create using plastic bricks, clay and latex.

As usual in creative businesses, there is more which unites us than divides us, and a constant strive to seek out the new and the original is core to each and every one of us.

This kind of approach is crucial in driving our various marketing and branding professions on to every greater heights of inspiration, leading to truly impactful campaigns and executions for clients.   

 Simon Bolton, worldwide CEO, The Brand Union