Quit lamenting the tech companies: Tim Hipperson


Tim Hipperson is the former CEO of ZenithOptimedia and now runs consulting business Morph Management. Here, he blogs about why the idea is not enough, and how in a context of insight and tech, creativity thrives.

Just over two years ago, on my way to Cannes, a fellow passenger glibly skimmed a page of the Financial Times which set the tone of the festival for years to come. His job largely unburdened by Cannes cocktails and creatives; digital media correspondent, Tim Bradshaw had joyfully issued a message of revolution: Twitter was on its way to the Palais.

In the years that followed, a begrudging of this tech invasion to the creative heartland began to fester. “When did Cannes Lions go from being a creative agency showcase and festival to becoming ad:tech Cannes?,” bemoaned an attendee last year.

But, for all its beauty, bars and unabashed creativity, the adland rendezvous represented the old time agency practice of naval gazing. It celebrated the idea as if the idea was enough. We know now that it’s not. Creatives only exist in context. Where their context was once traditional media owners, the challenge of what one could do with a 30 second spot or a blank billboard; the presence of these tech companies has built – quite literally (Google’s Sandbox but one example) – a veritable playground from which innovation can spring. It is within this space that new, relevant and modern ideas thrive. In many cases, technology actually drives the idea: British Airways’ #lookup campaign a perfect – and much acclaimed – example.

This year finally saw the tired looking Cyber Lions granted a revamp. The new subcategories: Social, Branded Technology and Branded Games represent an ever fragmented industry more accurately. They set a high standard for a much needed revolution in award entries; an appreciation of an idea and the importance of that idea in perspective with its social environment. Digital tech has played such a strong role in consumer’s lives and so heavily influenced creative campaigns for almost ten years.

The Wall Street Journal says that Cannes has become less about creativity, and more about the broader business of advertising. This can only be a good thing. In a context of insight and technology, creativity thrives. Cannes is what it always was: a showcase of the industry. If it ignored the significance of technology in fostering creativity, it would not only be useless in 2014; it would squander too many opportunities bestowed upon brands to succeed.

For anyone still left wondering from where the new drive for creativity will come, I’d direct them to the same place it’s always been: holding the prime party real estate on the beachside in Cannes.

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