While Cannes Burns…

Scott Donaton, Publisher of Advertising Age, wanted sparks to fly from the panel he moderated in Cannes last week. Instead, he could barely muster enough smoke to smudge an industry wallowing in denial.

Here’s what we learned at the high-powered Cannes Debate panel on agency reinvention, which I moderated during last week’s International Advertising Festival: next to nothing.
Here’s what that means: The ad business has a bigger problem than it realizes. Because its leaders refuse to share real learnings and best practices, or to discuss the frustrations they face in reinventing their legacy businesses, there’s little chance of harnessing their collective wisdom to benefit the industry. Which means each player within it has to keep trying to figure it out on their own. That’s a shame.

I can’t help but smile at this scenario. We work in an industry dedicated to passing off utter bullshit as something wholesome and worthy of the customer’s time. Then we go to fancy gatherings in France to celebrate our best bullshit from the preceeding year. Meanwhile the emperor stands alone and naked. Personlly, I’m glad. The brave and the few will move forward from this low point and create better work. As it should be. As for the rest, who really cares?

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About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.