Written for SYP Scotland blog | Phil Thomas – Creativity Matters – Magfest 2015.
Phil Thomas is the CEO of the Cannes Lions Festival, the global network of festivals of creativity, and he kicks off Magfest with an exciting look through businesses who are looking at advertising a little differently, with some great examples to showcase.
So why does it matter? “Because creativity is a driving force for business, for change and for good,” explains Phil. “It gives us the opportunity to look at the market and advertising media world. The world is changing.”
But why would a festival of creativity, a vague concept in a sense, attract so many people? Over 40,000 entries were submitted last year. “Creativity drives business. It’s like world peace: everyone likes it, everyone wants to be creative.” People now understand that.
Volvo Trucks is the biggest winner they’ve ever had, but trucks aren’t exactly a sexy product. “If you think your brand isn’t exciting, it doesn’t matter. You can drive creativity through. Creativity makes absolutely anything possible.”
“Most [come to the festival] to be educated, inspired, to discover the best ideas and people behind it. At the end of the day we’re in the business of creativity. You sell more at higher prices when you’re creative.”
However, it’s about more than just selling stuff. “There’s a spike in stock price when they’re most creative,” he explains. “Just before winning a Lion.” Is that a causation? He wouldn’t say, but he believes the correlation has been consistent, as it happens time and time again. They’re doing their finest work.
So how does one make their business adequately creative? “We all want it,” he begins, “but some people manage it, some people don’t. It’s about lexicon and language. Creativity doesn’t mean anything. It means different things to different people. Benchmark yourselves with words people will understand.” Heineken have a 1-10 rating, from destructive to legendary, a scale on which all of their work is measured.
“Creativity used to be the preserve of big brands, they were the only ones who had the money. It’s not just for the big guys anymore. When you start on the journey, there’s no going back. It’s infectious. I don’t just think it’s important, I know it is.”
At the festival this year, three words came up a startling number of times: product, culture, disruption.
“Disruption has become the norm,” he notes. “Disruption has become absolutely key to unlocking the consumer. Disruption and change is the status quo. It’s common through media to be disrupted through new technology and creativity.”
“We are an industry full of creatives,” says Phil. He shows a video in which known faces talk about the term, including Pharrell Williams: “Without creativity I think we’d be incredibly boring.”
In a rather apt conclusion, Phil simply says: “Don’t be bored, be creative.”