My Cannes Creative Academy Experience

My Cannes Creative Academy Experience

Earlier this year, our Perfect Storm CEO, Jason Foo, announced that one of the agency’s focuses was to invest in development for our team. I leapt on the opportunity and started my research. Having always followed the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity for inspiration, I was excited to discover that they also held a training program during the week of the festival; the Creative Academy. Only open to 30 creatives worldwide, this training week is an exclusive event created to catapult young creatives to the next level of their careers. In order to be one of the select few, I had to send an application, including an essay, a video about myself and a written reference from my Creative Director. I knew this was going to be a longshot, but I had nothing to lose in giving it a try. Convinced I could persuade the Dean to select me as one of the Creative Academy Students, I started working on my essay in the office after my regular work was done. The essay question was: “What’s the most creative brand in the world and why”? I believe there are many brands that are truly creative in their strategic and marketing approach. The big ones people always seem to think about are Nike, Burger King, Lego… So I decided to go smaller. I decided to go with a less obvious brand but who had just as much of an interesting marketing strategy as the big brands. I choose Absolute Vodka. To sum up, I believe Absolut is one of the most creative brands because they manage to support and defend a large audience worldwide socially and politically, thanks to their creative strategy, beautiful graphics, and often communicated with the help of many best-known artists and influencers of our time. 

Once my essay was written, there was the question of a small two-minute video talking about who I was, and why I deserved a space in the Academy? The fun fact behind this is I don’t really have a nice white open space at home, so I decided to film myself talking to the iMac camera at midnight one night when the office was completely empty… and it worked! A week later, I had an email from the Cannes Lions Festival saying that I had been awarded a spot! An incredible experience and opportunity were awaiting.

I had no idea what to expect but, as soon as I arrived, I could see why this course was so sought after. Long days, various accents chatting, rosé poring, in the distance drumbeats beating, shade searching, fans waving, amuse-bouche eating, subject-matter experts presenting. This is what I was seeing and hearing every day at the Creative Academy. This program involved intimate sessions with world-renowned CEOs, CCO, Directors, Producers, Creatives from all around the globe.

The hot topic for this year’s Cannes Festival was: What does the future of digital look like? Everyone is talking about NFTs, the Metaverse, Web3.0, and how they will change the face of marketing and brand communication. During the Creative Academy, I got the chance to see how some brands displayed their strategies within different digital environments, but it left me wondering if this a trend or is this future going to stay in the long run? At the Academy we discussed various forms of media (VR, AR, projection mapping…) and how can they grow and develop even further, or on the contrary fade out as a new technology takes centre stage.

Change is here and it keeps coming, I learned the key is to remain curious and stay updated. Creative thinkers are basically reimagining familiar aspects of the society we live in. For example, the Metaverse is just a new type of social community, Bitcoin is another form of money exchange, Web3.0 is about ownership, owning your space in a digital world and bringing value to that space in the real-world.

Over the course of these 5 intensive days, there were so many lessons that I’ve taken with me.

The first one is unleashing the power in yourself - your experiences, your history, your connections. Be the multi-hyphenated creative you thrive to be! Learn how to pin down your values, what matters to you and how can this be used within brands to create meaningful work that can create change. Secondly, how playing can drive creativity. Yes, playing! It’s fundamental to creativity and helps our brains break out of well-trodden thought processes and make new connections. Thirdly, collaboration. True collaborations are easy to say but harder to execute. Our egos, preconceptions, insecurities get in the way and deny us the opportunity to discover new people and their talents. Fourthly, expanding your creative toolkit. When 84% of advertising goes unnoticed, how can brands truly breakthrough? Relevance, being in the know of the pop culture is a key factor in creating an impact. Creating work that sticks is about finding those impactful insights and saying the course of the work through execution. Advertising should promote a conversation and propel consumers to take action. And lastly, bringing together purpose and profit. By determining your core values, you may discover multiple ways of intersecting those with your job. For us young creatives, participating in Young Lions, DA&D Young Blood, Chip Shop awards are great ways of doing that.

And then, before I knew it, the week was over. Coming out of Cannes was… weird. Cannes is such an extravagant experience. You’re constantly surrounded by the world’s most creative minds and work! Of course, you’re inspired, you’re determined, you’re flying on a “Cannes High!” Waking up from a week of constant creative conversations, promises, meet-ups, takes time to process. I know that what I’ve heard and seen has affected me more than I could have imagined. I just hope that I can keep reminding myself of the creative thinking process I have learnt to use and keep practising more and more throughout client work to finally achieve the ultimate goal: Create change through Creativity.

I’m proud that I took a chance on myself to enter the competition to attend, but most of all, I’m grateful that Perfect Storm has supported me in participating in this exclusive training experience. I know it will have a lasting effect on my career and the way I think about creativity. 

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