One of the better episodes of Black Mirror imagined a world in which everyone had machine-augmented perfect recall of every moment in life. The results are predictably horrific. Happiness depends on a fungible memory, and so I can’t be sure of this. Still, I’m reasonably certain that the first day of Cannes started with more of a bang last year. This is the fourth year I’ve been covering the festival for Ogilvy & Mather, and over that time Cannes has become larger in size, broader in scope, and more digital in every respect. It’s also become more nakedly promotional (hard as that may be to believe).
Today’s debut session was little more than a 30-minute infomercial for The Walking Dead followed up by a MediaCom rich media unit. I get the appeal of sharing your IP and plugging the launch of your new spin off to this audience in particular, but that is old media thinking brought to live events: pushing your messaging onto a captive audience instead of delivering what they want.
Everything But The Girl
Earlier this year, human quote machine Cindy Gallop tweeted “We’ll know we have parity when mediocre black women get bad ideas funded at the same rate as mediocre white men.” She has elegantly articulated the current feminist zeitgeist. Canes has always been good about having solid female—and solid feminist—representation on stage, but that’snot true of the advertising industry as a whole. Quite the opposite, in fact.
As Fast Company reported in 2013, “Despite the fact that women control 80% of consumer spending, only 3% of creative directors (and we’re not talking about celebrity CDs) are female.” It’s an open question the industry-wide response has been sufficiently robust. Cannes, however, is doing its part. They’ve instituted the Glass Lion this year to recognize work that addresses issues of gender inequality. Maybe that will spur us to give more women the authority to make that happen
Gay erotic art icon Tom of Finland was called Touko Laaksonen when he’s at home—and when he was Senior Art Director at McCann’s Finish office. Plenty of advertising folk do a little work on the side. Few of them, however, change global culture. David Ogilvy said, “Advertising reflects the mores of society, but it doesn’t influence them.” That may be true of advertising, but perhaps not for advertising folk.
Tom of Finland is part of the long line of figures that helped with the global mainstreaming of LGBT culture. We have a global tradition of moving fringe cultures from exile to appropriation to acceptance to inclusion—and now to appropriation. Visual tropes of hyper masculinity, for example, started in gay culture and flowed into the straight world, but the fear is that appropriation by dominant culture leads to assimilation of the subculture. And that’s a loss.