Cannes Lions: Burson’s Global CCO gives his take

The newly-launched agency's creative head Simon Shaw talks exclusively to us from the festival

Days after Burson’s official launch, it was shortlisted (as BCW and Hill & Knowlton) for PR and Industry Craft Lions at the 2024 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for its HONOR and The Royal Commission for AlUla campaign.

Campaign Middle East editor Justin Harper caught up with Simon Shaw, the Global Chief Creative Officer of Burson, a collective of 6,000+ creative problem solvers powered by industry-leading technology.

Here’s what he had to say:

“This is the first year we are attending Cannes as Burson. We have brought together the creative and strategic muscles of BCW and H&K in the new agency.

Creativity is a key pillar in our future, so hopefully this and other shortlisted campaigns will be the ‘creative shoulders’ from which we build Burson both in the Middle East and on the global stage.

From the Middle East perspective, it is an absolute signpost that the region is on the global creative stage and from all the signs I believe will become one of the world’s leading creative regions.

Creativity is back

Stand aside AI – or at least take a supporting role!

As Mark Read, WPP CEO, recently said, ‘I do believe that AI without creativity will ultimately be a race towards greater conformity’ and ‘Creativity is the antidote to conformity’.

Great, standout creative ideas are back at Cannes, whether they make us laugh, entertain us, or change the way we think about something.

Who would have connected Micheal Cera with the CeraVe brand?

Shaw with a young filmmaker from Burson’s Dubai office who got a scholarship to visit Cannes this year

What about getting Rick Astley to re-record one of his songs to highlight the need for hearing tests?

Or, in the case of our client, the Royal Commission for AlUla, what if we connected with renowned landscape artist David Popa to create a ‘vanishing artwork’ highlighting the need to protect important heritage assets?

Creativity is back. Making unexpected connections. As we like to say, creativity is intelligence having fun!

Other talk in the basement

AI is re-writing history…

Re-writing history is nothing new; it was largely the preoccupation of powerful leaders, politicians, and governments. Now, brands are weighing in.

The Palais basement has many campaigns asking the question ‘What if?’ What if that Brazilian women’s football team had actually existed in 1970? Where would they be now – probably world champions!

Perhaps an equally relevant ‘what if’ is to think about how we better ensure AI does not make it impossible to know what is true and what is not. What is our truth? What is your truth? What if they are different…”