Everyone’s favourite conservative Welsh sheep farmer (and celebrated adland leader) Rory Sutherland has some pretty interesting views on the Cannes Lions in this video recorded for his agency Ogilvy UK.
Never shy of an opinion, Rory shares his thoughts on the best and worst aspects of the festival, which he likens to a “catwalk” fashion show, full of work which highlights what can be done but will never run.
And in an industry full of more liberally-minded people (especially those looking to score a cheap Gold Lion for a social good campaign) his opinion it can be “a liberal, worthy, wankfest” will certainly ruffle some peacock’s feathers, especially as he admits he’d “like to see a nice campaign for the National Rifle Association once every two years”.
Asked what is the reason for Cannes, he notes: “The economic reason would be fairly depressing. It’s where we sit watching men drink rosé and try to resist the urge to punch them in the face, while watching tech companies steal our client’s budgets.
“A more optimistic explanation is: it’s kind of an R&D function for the advertising industry. It’s where we see work – a little like catwalk fashion – that isn’t necessarily going to run but gives us some sort of inspiration of what work can be at its glorious, theoretical best. And that’s not a bad thing, I don’t discourage that at all.
“There’s a slightly more depressing aspect to it, I think, where it’s becoming a little bit of an echo chamber and a bubble, where the problem with the advertising industry is the audience it now seeks to impress is its own peer group.
“This is not unique or confined to advertising. But generally the areas of business where the motive is to impress each other don’t genuinely innovate. You create an echo or a feedback loop where things become more and more similar.
“And there’s an aspect to it as well as the only conservative Welsh sheep farmer at Cannes that slightly irritates me, is it’s a little bit of a liberal, worthy wankfest at times. I’d kind of like to see a nice campaign for the National Rifle Association once every two years as there’s a little bit of that self congratulatory ‘mmm, yes, we’re saving the world’ stuff which, frankly, sticks in the throat a little bit.”
In the end perhaps Rory’s final line sums Cannes up the best: “It’s kind of like Las Vegas – the first three days are fun, the fifth day is intolerable”.