Wren on Cannes

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

Wren on Cannes

John Wren president and chief executive, Omnicom

Last month, like many, I was deeply saddened by the passing of David Abbott. His writing talent is, of course, legendary but, upon recently re-reading his wonderful retirement speech, I was taken by his advice: care about each other and care about quality in everything you do, down to the finest detail. People and quality.

The premium on big, creative ideas has never been greater but, as I’ve said before, an idea is brilliant only if brilliantly executed, and I am reminded of that as I make the trip to Cannes 2014.

The people from our agencies are, as I am, looking forward to being inspired by the best work the world has to offer and learning from its brightest minds. We have always been focused on attracting and retaining the best creative people and making sure that they are continuously learning and being challenged. It works, as evidenced by the hundreds of Lions they win every year.

Creativity is the means to an end - to drive our clients' businesses. We have more media to work in and more technology to work with

Creativity has never been the endgame for us. It’s the means to an end – to drive our clients’ brands and businesses. We have more media to work in and more technology to work with: just consider the tools that were available to film-makers and advertising professionals in the early days of what was then a film-focused Cannes Festival – a 35mm camera, a microphone and some bright lights – and look at what is in an iPhone now. Today, we have all the potential of a digital world to help us target more precisely, in a more relevant context, with messages honed by ever-better analysis of ever-more data. But we need to do so much more than add to the noise. We need to create real music.

As I travelled around the world over the past year, I was excited to see all of our agencies doing exactly that – delivering creative ideas using social, mobile and other digital media at the heart of almost every campaign they created. And then bringing it all together by using these tools – and outstanding creative – to get the best results for our clients.

This year at Cannes, we will see a lot of outstanding work from all over the world. My prediction is that the winners will be those campaigns that excel in combining creativity with technology and the human element. Those will be the ones that take our breath away.

Abbott had it right. People and quality. That’s what makes Cannes worth the trip this year and every year.