Cannes: Creativity is effectiveness

Impact BBDO's CCO, Ali Rez, discusses creativity in print and publishing ahead of Cannes Lions

As the first Cannes Lions Jury President to represent the Middle East, it’s a moment of immense pride to represent this incredible region, and to reach the apex of being a President at the biggest of shows.  I also hope it will open the doors for many other regional creatives to head juries in the future.

As the Print & Publishing Jury President, I believe it’s one of the toughest mediums to crack, because most big ideas begin on the page, and that’s what’s so powerful about the medium.

The first piece of print that had a profound effect on me I saw in school, and it pretty much solidified my decision to step into the industry. ‘Volvo: SAFETY PIN’ by Dentsu Y&R Tokyo showed, within one silent visual, a whole story, an entire novel, and a complete feature length film. And that’s what powerful print does: it can communicate more than any other medium possibly can in a vastly quicker way.

Creative success in the making

Many years ago, on my first trip to Cannes, I was shattered because none of our entries succeeded in winning a Lion.

But then I attended this amazing talk by actor, Robert Redford, where he narrated the story of how at one point in time he came to the Cannes Film Festival as a poor, hitchhiking student and had to spend a cold night on the beach, under a boardwalk listening to other people partying; and then, a few years later, he was back in Cannes but this time above the boardwalk, celebrating his film.

This was exactly the thing I needed to hear. Three years later, we were on the Cannes Lions  festival stage celebrating two Gold Lions, and then a few after that, our work at Impact BBDO Dubai, “The Blank Edition,” for AnNahar Newspaper, won the Middle East its first Lions Grand Prix.

The “Election Editions” campaign was the first time in the newspaper’s nearly 90-year history that it stopped its printing presses for a day in order to donate ink and paper to polling stations during a vital election in the country.

The impact of the campaign was to mobilise the people to demand elections on time, and effectively nullified any government excuses about the shortage of paper and ink. I doubt any other newspaper would be able to pull off the stuff they do.

For our agency, and the industry, it proved that the more creative the work, the more effective it become.

Cannes Lions takes place between 19-23 June and will provide an annual forum for the global industry to address the most pressing issues that they and the world are facing today.