Storming Facebook Beach, #FreeDroga, story-vaping: Cannes Nightcap Day Four
As the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity lurches toward its conclusion tomorrow, things have been getting a bit... tense. Environmental activists have been busy trying to disrupt the proceedings (even though #disruption has a Cannes-five-years-ago feel to it). A group called Extinction Rebellion stormed Facebook Beach on Thursday—jumping off a raft and then swimming ashore—but police, on high alert, were quick to crack down.
Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse, reporting from the scene at 5:20 p.m. Cannes time, witnessed about 20 protestors facing off against 15 police. “The police won’t talk to me,” she told us as it was happening, “and they won’t let the protestors talk to me. A protestor—a red-haired kid—just tried talking to me and the police pushed him back.” Ultimately, about 20 Extinction Rebellion activists (essentially the entire group) were arrested and taken away.
In a tweet, Extinction Rebellion alluded to its awareness-raising goals: “Organisers and police are making every effort to stop us from telling the truth to the ad business—so we’re doing it anyway, on #Facebook private beach.” Today’s protest comes in the wake of a more ambitious action on Wednesday; Ad Age’s Alexandra Jardine reported on it earlier today. That protest involved its members chanting “We are in the sixth mass extinction” and “If we don’t act now, the biodiversity on which we depend will collapse” while blocking the main entrance to the Palais, resulting in 14 arrests.
Meanwhile, a way less high-minded Cannes Lions disruption—but one that’s pretty awesome: the #FreeDroga “movement.” Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing has the full story, but the bottom line is that independent agency Terri & Sandy launched a $475 million GoFundMe so that former fellow indie shop (and creative-world darling) Droga5 can buy itself back from management consultant behemoth Accenture (which is, uh, kind of the polar opposite of a creative-world darling). The best part about the stunt is that its roll-out in Cannes included not only #FreeDroga signage displayed around town (e.g., unfurled over apartment balcony railings), but a rental plane tugging a #FreeDroga banner that buzzed the beach Thursday afternoon.
As industry in-jokes go, well ... This. Is. Hilarious. (Terri & Sandy’s larger point is that since they were named the No. 2 Most Effective Independent Agency in North America at the 2019 Effie Awards, just behind Droga, Terri & Sandy is actually the real No. 1 because Droga is no longer an independent.) BTW, as of this writing, the GoFundMe is just $474,999,268 short of its goal. Getting there!
Roar of the Lions
We interrupt these disruptions to point out that other things have been going on at Cannes—like some marketers won some awards and stuff.
Burger King, for starters, gobbled up another Grand Prix, this time in the Mobile category, for its delightfully mischievous “Whopper Detour” campaign. And Microsoft Xbox’s Adaptive Controller won the Grand Prix for Brand Experience and Activation. (Back in November, Ad Age’s Creativity covered a touching TV ad about the device starring real-life 9-year-old video gamer Owen Sirmons, who has Escobar Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that makes it tough for him to use a traditional video game controller.)
Find out about today’s other wins (for HBO, FCB Health and more) in “Cannes Lions 2019: Grand Prix winners,” our gallery of the brands (and agencies) making the big hauls. We’ve been updating it throughout the day, every day, this week.
Can anything beat storyliving?
In Monday’s Nightcap, we cited a tweet from Matt Maher of Media Assembly: “Buzzword Bingo at #CannesLions: in order to connect with Gen Z, you must focus on #storyliving. Also, don’t forget #purposepushing and constantly providing #wokewisdom.”
Now that we’re nearing the Cannes finish line, it looks to us like no Cannes buzzword is going to be able to top “storyliving”—just in terms of the sheer ridicule and general gag reflex it’s been inducing.
In fact, the best Cannes-related read on Twitter this week comes in the form of the takedowns directed at the Patient Zero “storyliving” tweet, which came from Ogilvy’s account on Monday, quoting Samsung CMO YoungHee Lee’s Cannes presentation: “For brands, connecting with #GenZ is about harnessing storyliving not storytelling.”
A few reactions from the Twitter peanut gallery:
“Sounds very similar to Bullshittelling™” —Scott Lange (@slange70)
“Storybollocks.” —Brian Chapman (@wordmongerbc)
“So old... We are already story-vaping™️” —Andre Redelinghuys (@AndreInBrief)
“It’s widely regarded as a storyliving hell to work with Samsung.” —Jules Ehrhardt (@ezyjules)
“Methinks David Ogilvy would vomit reading this tweet.” —TonyRush (@TonyRush)
“Look, this has been hard. As anyone who wakes up in the morning, working hard and trying to do the best they can, being attacked and being attacked personally is not something I experienced before, and it’s definitely hard.” —Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on stage at Cannes, as quoted by the New York Post’s “Page Six,” which dissed what it called her “ham-fisted mea culpa over Facebook’s myriad privacy and data breach concerns.”
Where’s Arthur? (Spoiler: everywhere)
Publicis Groupe chief Arthur Sadoun, who has been working through some, uh, issues about Cannes the past couple of years (flashback: “Publicis Groupe CEO tries to calm alarm over his Cannes ban,” from 2017) hasn’t exactly been making himself scarce at the festival this year. Ad Age’s Jack Neff tells us that “I’ve seen Arthur now literally five times just in various Cannes spots, including kinda hogging my secret Majestic charging spot. After not being here last year the guy simply can’t be visible enough this year."
And no, we’re not telling you where Jack’s secret Majestic charging spot is, sorry.
(Another more recent flashback—from last month: “Publicis halves Cannes awards entries, prioritizes creatives and newcomers.”)
Naomi Campbell, marketing genius
Among our highest-wattage Cannes sightings this week: Naomi Campbell (fleetingly, near the beach). She’s been in town to, among other things, attend a private American Express dinner masterminded by celebrity chef Mario Carbone—and naturally she Insta’d herself wearing the Alexander McQueen dress she pulled out of her suitcase for the night.
W magazine, the fashion glossy that Condé Nast just announced it’s selling off, has an amusing take on the supermodel’s attempts to deploy Instagram to pretend that Cannes Lions is hyperglamorous: “How is Naomi Campbell Making a Convention in Cannes Look Like the World’s Best Party?”
A+ for effort, Naomi! And extra credit to W for calling Cannes Lions what it is: a “convention” (lulz).
Oh, by the way, Campbell tells “Page Six” that “there will be a big announcement on Friday.” Stay tuned.
Yes, this is indeed news of the good persuasion:
P.S. Ad Age’s editorial team on the ground—this year it’s Ann-Christine Diaz, Alexandra Jardine, Jack Neff, Alfred Maskeroni, Lindsay Rittenhouse, I-Hsien Sherwood, Max Sternlicht and George Slefo—is on duty to provide you with wall-to-wall coverage of the marketing world’s annual sun-drenched celebration of (professional) thirst. To find all of their coverage, visit our Cannes Lions 2019 page.