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Cannes Lions Special Section

#Cannes2023: The diary of Creative Circle. Carl Willoughby, CCO TBWA Hunt Lascaris "How are you feeling?"

As media partner to the Creative Circle SA, Bizcommunity is proud to publish exclusive daily snapshot updates from Cannes 2023, the Diary of Creative Circle from the SA cohort on the ground in Cannes every day this week 19-24 June. Enjoy today's post from Carl Willoughby, CCO TBWA Hunt Lascaris
Image supplied. Carl Willoughby, CCO TBWA Hunt Lascaris says it feels like there are more people at Cannes than ever
Image supplied. Carl Willoughby, CCO TBWA Hunt Lascaris says it feels like there are more people at Cannes than ever

Cannes has been an emotional rollercoaster.

The ad industry has its fair share of daily challenges but nothing pushes those emotional boundaries quite like being here.

One cannot just enjoy Cannes.

I’ve had some unsettling accommodation ‘challenges.’ Positively speaking I guess it’s a result of what feels like an overcrowded Croisette.

I don’t have the statistics but I’d say there are more people here this year than I’ve ever experienced before. It’s a good thing.

With new categories and an increase in entries (6%) compared to 2022, I’d say we’ve moved on from any of the Covid years’ restraints.

But one cannot just enjoy Cannes.

The anticipation of shortlists, anxiety around winning, the jealousy, the insecurity, the adrenalin rush of winning, it’s all quite something. And it’s all concentrated over this week.

#Cannes2023: The diary of Creative Circle. Carl Willoughby, CCO TBWA Hunt Lascaris "How are you feeling?"

How are you feeling?

I found a poster in one of the toilets at the Palais, with the headline: “How are you feeling?”

Appropriate for guests but also symbolic of the kind of work being acknowledged. This is not an award-winning poster, not by any means, but Cannes wanting to know your feelings, recognising how stressful the week can be, says a lot about how brands are needing to connect with their audience in a more meaningful way.


There are a number of recurring themes at Cannes.

  1. Purpose-driven work
  2. Purpose-driven work, one of the many recurring themes at Cannes always helps creatives like me find more meaning in what we do. Nothing quite validates the stresses we endure quite like creating something of value.

    There’s a lot of that this year.

    I loved pieces like ITV’s The Last Photo, or Telefonica Movistar’s Shout, a film that shows support for the LGBTQIA+ community and deals with the theme around homophobia.

  3. Client agency relationships
  4. Client agency relationships are also a big recurring topic. Kevin Hart (yes Kevin Hart was here), who launched Hartbeat media, awarded Entertainment person of the year at this year’s show, shared some invaluable insights.

    “A business cannot be one-sided. If we can laugh together, we can live together. And if we can live together, we can love together.” I loved that. He shared so many insights but what stood out was how open and honest he was about business.

  5. Artificial Intelligence
  6. The biggest theme was AI of course. For me at least. So many talks driving so much insecurity in the industry. Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of NVIDIA discussed the opportunities we’ll face with AI.

    He spoke about how we’ll be able to learn the structure of almost anything, then generate anything.

    While we’ll be able to democratise content generation, we won’t be able to democratise creativity.

    He said, “The creative process is going to be supercharged.” I felt a sense of comfort hearing that. I won’t lie. I guess we’re on the verge of some pretty seismic change, but how we handle and adopt it will be crucial.

    Just so damn inspiring

    I’ve been to the two awards shows and one gets a sense of the work and it’s always just sodamn inspiring.

    It feels like there just this influx of ideas constantly coming our way, inspiring, motivating.

    Work I wish I’d made, work that elicits so many emotional responses. Today I’ll spend more time trying to go through the Exhibition of the work in the Palais basement. I want to see more and be more inspired. I cannot wait to see and experience more of what the work can offer.

    So how do I feel?

    I feel excited, today, I feel energised.

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