A timely reminder of what advertising is really all about
A view from Jeremy Lee

A timely reminder of what advertising is really all about

Indefinable and unquantifiable as it is, the concept of inspiration has bedevilled philosophers and psychologists since at least Hellenic times. Divinely disposed, as the ancient Greeks thought, or, as Sigmund Freud would have us believe, the product of psychological conflict and childhood trauma, the search for a muse can be a fraught one (and looking out over Teddington Lock late on a sunny Friday evening while trying to write this, I’m also aware in my own little way how difficult it can be).

But in this week’s Campaign Cannes issue, there is hopefully something that may ignite a spark of inspiration in you from many of the best creatives from around the world, as well as something to make you feel proud and walk a little bit taller.

Given that the industry’s biggest talking point in recent months has been the tale of three rich men and an aborted corporate merger, the Cannes Festival will hopefully remind us that advertising is about more than just margins and media-buying clout and improving shareholder value. Whether it’s from Björn Engström, the creative behind the hotly tipped Lion contender "the epic split" for Volvo; from the top global creatives who describe the state of creativity in their own markets; from Viacom’s Philippe Dauman’s commitment to creative content; or from CHI & Partners’ Jon Burley and his inspired Henry Root-style pastiche, we have tried to celebrate creativity in advertising in a variety of forms.

For writers, art directors and directors, their skills have never been more crucial. Surely a reason for optimism

Obviously, this will also be happening over the next week on a rather grand stage, as agencies vie to get their hands on a Lion as well as check out the best of the world’s work.

There’s plenty of it to look at – while the total number of Cannes entries is up to just shy of 37,500 (trousering the festival organisers an estimated $24 million), the broadening definition of what "creativity" is has led to a leap in entries for Branded Content and Entertainment, PR and Cyber. But it is Outdoor that is the biggest category in 2014: something that purists will approve of and also showing that traditional media (and, in this case, the oldest medium of all) are as relevant as ever.

Equally, as Mark Tutssel has pointed out in Leo Burnett’s remarkably reliable Cannes Predictions (it boasts an 84 per cent accuracy rate), there has been a resurgence in long-form content, which may seem counterintuitive in an age when everyone talks of snackable content. This is not the mere indulgence of agencies or the whim of a creative director, but rather an attempt by brands to craft documentary-style content. For writers, art directors and directors, their skills have never been more crucial, which is surely a reason to be optimistic.

To all the winners, hearty congratulations and lashings of D’Ott.