The message from Cannes: big problems need big, brave ideas

The sun is now setting on day two of the Cannes Lions festival and already a common theme is emerging: the power of big, brave ideas to overcome what may at first seem like insurmountable problems.

In a lively presentation, representatives of Ireland’s AIG bank spoke about the position they found themselves in after the financial crash. The brand recorded a score of 6% in Edelman’s Trust Barometer – not only the lowest of any financial services brand in Ireland, but the lowest score recorded by any brand, in any category, in any market. Against the odds, they’ve now managed to grow the score to over 50% by championing Ireland’s national sport, Gaelic Games, with a bold sponsorship campaign that used real, unscripted content to build emotional affinity with previously disgruntled customers.

But brave ideas haven’t only been used to help commercial clients. In two talks today, we saw the power of creativity to bring about social change. Design consultancy Fjord spoke about their work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they used innovative thinking to save lives in an area ravaged by malaria and malnutrition. The local hospital served hundreds of thousands of people but still operated entirely on paper-based systems. With the help of new open source software, the Fjord team managed to digitise every part of the patient record process, ultimately allowing doctors to treat many more patients a day.

In a separate talk, Grammy Award nominee Rocky Dawuni spoke about his work with the UN Foundation to change cooking behaviour in the developing world. Over 3 billion people worldwide still rely on traditional cooking stoves, burning wood, dung and charcoal which not only pollute the environment but pose a serious health risk to family members who breathe in the noxious fumes. In a multi-market, multi-media campaign, the team have managed to overcome entrenched views about traditional cooking methods and are on their way to helping 100 million families around the world switch to new, cleaner cooking stoves.

These were three different talks, but each delivered a similar message on creativity’s power to overcome the biggest problems facing brands and society. As Rocky reminded the audience earlier today, “As creative people, we all have the ability to be instruments of change.”

Stuart Williams

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