Roth on Cannes

As adland comes to the South of France, the head of Interpublic talks about what's in store...

Roth on Cannes

Michael Roth chairman and chief executive, Interpublic

As you know, there was a lot of chatter in the industry over this past year about news that had little to do with the creative product.

At Interpublic, however, we stayed focused on the work. Last year, our network took home more Grands Prix than any other holding company, with McCann, FCB and Weber Shandwick winning the lion’s share of Cannes’ top prizes. The work McCann produced for Metro trains was the most-awarded in the festival’s history. And we continued our dialogue on women in the advertising world with our third annual IPG Women’s Leadership Network Breakfast. We’re hosting that breakfast again this year and we’ve focused its discussion on creativity, featuring IPG women who are serving on juries this year and women who created work that’s in competition.

If you look at the type of campaigns being judged, the groundbreaking work R/GA did with Nike+ FuelBand – which showed how advertising can be both product design and business service – opened the doors to the work all of us strive to produce and what juries look to reward. Additionally, work that takes on the seemingly intractable environmental challenges we face is not only winning medals but also showing how public-private partnerships can make a difference. FCB Mayo’s engineering-school client in Peru, Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología, wowed all of us last year with the billboard that turned humid air into drinking water for a community. This year, FCB has entered another billboard to the festival that purifies air as an answer to the construction boom in Peru, again for UTEC. (In fact, tell Terry [Savage] "sequels" could be a new festival category.)

The groundbreaking work R/GA did with Nike+ FuelBand opened doors to the work all of us strive to produce and what juries look to reward

Work we’re most excited about includes the brilliant campaign for Beats by Dr Dre that R/GA created. (It made me buy them for my grandkids.) Other standouts include the "wonderfilled" Oreo work from our Mondelez International team, the Jamaican bobsled song from FCB Garfinkel and the PR work for Barbie that Weber Shandwick created via its digital and integrated campaign "#unapologetic".

There’s a lot to choose from. But if there was one spot to help refocus our attention on what matters this month, it’s the wonderful story Lowe Istanbul told for Turkish Airlines in "the dream", featuring a group of kids who build a runway in their forgotten town in hopes of attracting some excitement and growth. And that’s an apt metaphor for how we view the Cannes Festival. You give us the runway, our ideas can help clients soar.