Tay Guan Hin
Jun 24, 2013

Cannes impressions: Inspiring sessions leave viewer humbled, wanting more

Tay Guan Hin, JWT’s Southeast Asia ECD, reports on his three most inspiring sessions from Cannes, including AKQA's 'Future Lions', Dentsu's 'Happy hacking' and Saatchi & Saatchi's New Director's Showcase.


As Cannes draws to a close, I’m humbled by the amount of impressive work generated (even the shortlists) and the number of quality seminars and workshops.

Just over a week ago, we were all anxious about our entries; our expectations set high. By the time you read this, you are either jumping for joy (like those who won the first Grand Prix in Mobile for the Philippines) or decoding why your work didn’t even make the shortlist.

This industry feeds on our egos. Once you have tasted the lion’s blood, you can never stop.

Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola said this brilliantly during the Cannes debate:  “It’s more difficult to repeat success than to achieve success.”

The author in front of the 'future
lion'. (Click to enlarge)

Whatever the outcome, the Cannes experience always leaves me wanting more. No matter how much I already know, there is still more that I don’t.

Three seminars left me quite humbled.

The first was the Future Lions, presented by AKQA, which is one I never miss. Their brief is simple. Connect an audience to a product or service from a global brand in a way that wasn’t possible five years ago. The winning pieces from school students displayed maturity in their strategic thinking and execution. They have also defined the art of creating slick video case studies that puts the professional ones to shame.

My favourite winner was 'The Pebble: Sense danger'. The deaf are vulnerable to break-ins or fires because they don’t hear alarms in time. The project hooks up alarms to their smart watches. So whenever danger strikes, it will vibrate to alert them. A powerful, simple solution. I strongly recommend checking out the winning entries at facebook.com/futurelions.

The last 10 minutes of Dentsu’s presentation, called 'Happy Hacking: Refining the co-creation frontier', was truly astonishing. It was as if I was watching Tron in real life: a blend of computer art and live entertainment. Utilising futuristic body-mapping effects by Daito Manabe, the three beautiful dancers from 'Perfume' looked as if they were reconstructed on stage digitally. They danced to the beat of a song while graphics projected on their dresses were seamlessly integrated to the background graphics, giving the audience a glimpse into what future concerts could be like. Technology that blends the virtual and real world is frightfully exciting. Catch their performance here. However, it’s not the same as when it happens right before your eyes.

This year’s legendary Saatchi & Saatchi New Director’s Showcase left me speechless. It started with renowned biologist Richard Dawkins, who invented the word 'meme' in his best-selling book The Selfish Gene. The stage exploded with psychedelic colour of dazzling 'meme-ified' images.  While I really have no clue what some of the films were all about, they left a disturbing, unforgettable impression. Violence seemed to a recurring theme. Not forgetting a suspenseful and seductive film for Agent Provocateur. As much as I was looking for conceptual thinking, the never-seen-before execution was enough to keep me spellbound.

One film that's still embedded in my mind came from Hong Kong director Wong Ping. He created an animation that featured four fat men, a one-eyed monster that ejaculates and a rocket penis deflowering another monster. Could there be a political message hidden behind it all? You tell me. (Obviously, this may be NSFW, depending on your office.)


As I leave Cannes, I leave humbled.

Just because we are faced with everyday pressures, it would a real shame if we stopped taking risks. We should consciously experiment innocently to be able to discover creative ways to solve our client’s need.

Perhaps we need to start looking inside to bring out the child in us for pure unadulterated inspiration. Hopefully that doesn’t involve a one-eyed monster that ejaculates! 


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