This is the end. One more day to drink in all the rosé, er, creativity that the Cannes Lions festival has to offer. Make it an extra casual Friday when choosing your wardrobe, because temperatures of up to 27°C (81°F) will be paired with high humidity.
Here’s what we’re looking forward to today, and what we’re taking back with us tomorrow:
WHAT’S GOING ON TODAY
You again. Martin Sorrell is back. Yesterday, the former WPP boss made his first appearance at Cannes since his ignominious ouster at an event hosted by The Drum, at a pub at the far end of the port. He wasn’t particularly contrite, so we’ll see if the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta can extract more about the tumultuous end to his reign at the top of the industry at noon at the Palais. (Sorrell already got some digs in at the media critic’s latest book, so things could get spicy.)
Finally, the former face of advertising disputed one of the key themes of Auletta’s book: that Google, Facebook and Amazon threaten to render his entire industry irrelevant. “The field has changed,” he said regarding the sometimes-contentious relationship between networks and platforms. “A few years ago, we were frenemies. I labeled them as flexible friends recently, and [now] I would go further to call them partners.”
Yet he still managed to get in a final dig at Zuckberberg and peers by describing them as “media companies masquerading as tech companies” while predicting ever more consolidation on the media side of things. “I’m not clever enough to figure out who’s going to do what to who,” he said, “but I think more will be coming.”
Real and raw power. Three of the teenage survivors of the Parkland school shooting in Florida—Kai Koerber, Madison Leal, and Sam Zeif—appear in the Palais, talking about how after the tragedy they “quickly moved beyond thoughts and prayers to rallies, fundraisers, marches, websites, and causes.”
Witnesses identified nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz as the assailant, and he was arrested by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office shortly after he escaped the scene. Cruz confessed to being the perpetrator and he was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. Police and prosecutors have not yet offered a motive and are investigating “a pattern of disciplinary issues and unnerving behavior”.
The sheriff’s office received a number of tips in 2016 and 2017 about Cruz’s threats to carry out a school shooting. The FBI learned that a YouTube user with the username “nikolas cruz” posted a message in September 2017 about becoming a school shooter, but the agency could not identify the user. In January 2018, someone contacted the FBI tip line with a direct complaint that Cruz had made a death threat, but the complaint was not forwarded to the local FBI office.
The shooting sparked unprecedented demands for gun control and spurred the founding of Never Again MSD, a political action committee founded by students from the school to demand legislative action from lawmakers on firearms. On March 9, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that raised the minimum age for buying rifles in Florida from 18 to 21. The legislation also established waiting periods and background checks for gun buyers. The law also allowed for the arming of teachers who were properly trained and the hiring of school police. Bump stocks would now be banned and some potentially violent or mentally unstable people would be prohibited from possessing guns.The National Rifle Association(NRA) immediately filed a lawsuit that challenged the federal constitutionality of the age requirement clause.
Focus on female entrepreneurship. A group of female-led startups in the marketing and communications fields got coaching from R/GA this week to sharpen their business plans and hone their brand messages. They showcase their work in a session at 2pm on the Innovation Stage.
Existential session of the day: Art’s Future Past
The final batch of little lion statues. The awards for agency, network, and holding company of the year will be announced, among others. The Lion of St. Mark, a lifetime achievement award for “significant and outstanding contributions to creativity”, will go to brothers Piyush and Prasoon Pandey, the first Asians to win the award.
When brands compete. Nike (Brazil) vs New Balance (Costa Rica) at 2pm, Nike (Nigeria) vs Errea (Iceland) at 5pm, and Umbro (Serbia) vs Puma (Switzerland) at 8pm.
Are we still doing this? If you still have the stamina to party, head to the Lions official closing soirée at Carlton Beach from 9pm. Plus, from 5pm until late, Google Beach hosts a Pride edition of its evening happy hour, with drag performances, glitter face-painting, and “pride-inspired cocktails.”
If this week has left you feeling strong and full of energy (somehow), Adobe will host a 100-mile bike ride over two mountain passes between Cannes and Monaco, starting at 7am. If that’s 90-odd miles too many, just stroll along the beach or take one final dip in the Med.
1️⃣ Cannes sobers up—emotionally.
Duncan Painter, CEO of the festival’s parent company, Ascential, told us he was happy to see less of a “party emphasis” at the event this year. More people in the Palais and fewer on the Croisette suggests that the focus has shifted from media buyers mingling at beach cabanas to creative directors spending time seeing shortlisted work.
But this doesn’t mean Cannes has returned to being a forum for creatives to congratulate each other for creativity’s sake. Just about the only group that boosted their presence at the festival this year—in delegates, activations, and yacht berths—were the consultancies. Accenture Interactive even won its first Grand Prix, a sign that the number crunchers can get creative, too. And if that wasn’t worrying enough for traditional agencies, Painter says it is “inevitable” that marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba will grow their presence at future festivals, diverting even more attention from the chief marketing officers who come to Cannes every year to shop around for partners to help them build their brands.
2️⃣ The first rule of authenticity is don’t talk about authenticity.
“Authenticity” is a word frequently bandied about the stages of Cannes, but rarely displayed in earnest. At the beginning of the week, Unilever announced it would no longer spend any of its multibillion-dollar ad budget with social media influencers who buy followers, prompting a wider conversation about this relatively new marketing channel. Social media marketing is broadly praised for its ability to foster an authentic conversation with consumers, but how can consumers trust people whose primary function is to “influence?” Onstage at the Palais, Conan O’Brien threw shade at the idea of creating and controlling one’s personal brand: “My brand is myself, I’ve been working on this brand since the day I was born… it’s not an act… I don’t need a team to explain it to me.”
3️⃣ Why do we do this?
If micro-targeting on social media platforms or bulk keyword buying on search engines was a sure-fire way to boost sales and brand recognition, there wouldn’t be much point to this festival. But creativity in advertising and marketing still matters, and that’s what ultimately draws brand leaders to the south of France every summer. The most effective campaigns “wrap imagination around the data,” an agency creative director told us. Even Martin Sorrell, whose new venture, S4 Capital, is pitched as a disruptive, data-driven challenger to the behemoth he built at WPP, hasn’t given up on the Lions as a marker of creative quality. He has criticized Cannes in the past as an expensive boondoggle, but when we asked whether he expected S4 to enter and win Lions in the future, he responded: “Definitely.”
SEEN AND HEARD
A Kardashian among us!
“All targeting is broken, except Facebook and Google”—Ad-tech exec
“When Jesus stood on the mount, he spoke to the masses. He didn’t just say, I want to talk with 18-to-24 year olds”—John Hegarty, founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Kevin Costner’s elevator pitch for his television debut: “It’s me on a horse”’Yellowstone,’ starring Kevin Costner, follows the violent world of the Duttons, a ranching family in Montana. Can they survive another season? From Taylor Sheridan, the writer of ‘Hell or High Water’ and ‘Sicario,’ and featuring Wes Bentley, Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, and Cole Hauser.“I worked at WPP for one year and that was enough”—Overheard on a yacht ,“With so much money at stake, we still act like idiots”—Ad industry veteran
NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Quebec wants to charge crypto miners more for electricity.
The power generator Hydro Quebec, owned by the Canadian province, halted approvals for new digital currency mining projects, which use large amounts of electricity. The area’s cheap power has attracted many such operations from China and elsewhere. They’ll now have to bid for energy (paywall).
Euro-zone nations agreed on a deal to bring Greece out of financial crisis.
After receiving more than €300 billion ($346 billion) in bailout money over the past eight years, Greece, thanks to an arrangement with international creditors, will be allowed to safely emerge from its third and final bailout on Aug. 20 and face the markets again—under strict supervision.
Tesla is cutting back its solar division.
Electric car maker Tesla Inc’s move last week to cut 9 percent of its workforce will sharply downsize the residential solar business it bought two years ago in a controversial $2.6 billion deal, according to three internal company documents and seven current and former Tesla solar employees., Reuters reported.
The closures raise fresh questions about CEO Elon Musk’s rationale for acquiring SolarCity, founded by two of his cousins, in 2016.The merger between two of Elon Musk’s corporate bets on futuristic tech—Tesla’s electric cars and Solar City’s solar electricity—has driven anxious musings about whether the combination is wise.The combined company will still be a gamble, but not on the economics of solar power or the availability of future subsidies. Now, both Tesla and Solar City depend on the company’s ability to stand up its battery gigafactory and meet its production goals. Who says Elon Musk can’t focus?
MATTERS OF DEBATE
The US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council is a gift to China.
Beijing wants to redefine human rights after the “China model.”For the first time, China successfully sponsored a resolution in the UNHRC in June 2017, on prioritising development over other human rights. Human rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible, independent, equal and non-discriminatory. Your right to economic development is equal to your right to freedom of speech; China’s resolution deliberately undermined that principle.
Outside the council chamber, China has deployed procedural and budget rules to “wage war” on UN human rights bodies, with tactics ranging from cutting funding for UN offices, blocking NGOs from receiving accreditation, all the way down to attempts to block individual activists from UN buildings in New York.
It is willing to take extreme measures. Chinese activist Cao Shunli died in detention in 2014 after being denied medical care because she tried to attend a council session and speak out about human rights abuses. China reacted angrily when NGOs tried to hold a moment of silence for Cao at the council. China’s behaviour at the UN is anything but rules-based, and this is just a taste of what’s to come.
Xi Jinping may say that China will be a “keeper of the international order,” but what he means is that it will keep the exterior of the institutions but get rid of the protection for human rights inside.
The UN Human Rights Council is flawed. Despite the downfall of its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights, for the same reason, current members include some of the worst human rights abusers like China, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. UNHRC Members are meant to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” but countries are elected by the UN General Assembly based on geographical distribution and mostly run unopposed. Demonstrable commitment to human rights is clearly not essential.
Despite its deeply politicised membership, the council is the only international platform for countries to address human rights violations. It appoints independent human rights experts who pull no punches in criticising states (such experts have raised concerns of rights violations in China 104 times in the past eight years).
The council has also appointed enquiries into North Korea, Syria, South Sudan, and Myanmar, credible independent investigations that can form the basis for prosecution for crimes against humanity. All 193 UN Member States equally go through a universal periodic review of their human rights record at the UNHRC. Even Israeli diplomats have expressed concern about the US’s departure.
The Human Rights Council has undoubtedly failed to live up to its founding principles. But a US working from within would do better to push for positive change and prevent further backsliding on human rights than sitting on the side-lines. The remaining UNHRC members must now work harder than ever to prevent China and other authoritarian regimes from undermining human rights standards and push for the desperately needed reform of the council.
Audiobooks are more emotionally resonant than TV or movies.
Psychologists made their case by measuring subjects’ heart rates and skin conductivity.Psychologists at University College in London found that Jane Austen, George R. R. Martin, and Arthur Conan Doyle exerted a greater tug on people’s heart strings in book form than in the television of movie adaptations of the works. Specifically, audiobook form, and it should be noted the research was funded by Audible, as part of the Amazon AMZN, +1.68% subsidiary’s ongoing efforts to find the secret sauce of what most engages listeners.
In an experiment that hardly seems a trial, subjects listened to powerful audiobook clips such as the proposal of Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice,” or the beheading of Ned Stark in “Game of Thrones” and also watched the very same scenes in the film and television adaptations.
Sensor readings showed the audiobook raised subjects’ heart rates two beats-per-minute faster, and body temperatures two degrees higher on average than the video versions did. Their skin’s electrical conductance also increased slightly.
The three measures, taken together, suggest a greater emotional response to the audiobooks than the video clips, Dr. Joseph Devlin, who conducted the experiment, said.“We were very surprised by the strength of the results,” said Devlin, who speculates that the way readers (and audiobook listeners) “recreate” the scene in their minds heightens the experience. Interestingly, participants themselves rated the videos as more engaging than the audio overall, but their hearts seem to suggest otherwise, Devlin said.
Funding scientific research on the experience of audiobook listening makes for more than just good marketing, Katz said. By combining this science with the customer analytics the service has built up after millions of hours of listening, the company can make smarter decisions about what audiobooks to produce, and one day use it to inform how books should be written in the first place.
Children are targets in Trump’s America.
The mere act of parenting in peace has become a privilege, rather than a human right.the president of the United States signed a piece of paper vowing to change his policy of separating families who come to our border with Mexico. That could be good news for the people camped out on the other side of that border, desperate to seek asylum in the US as they flee the same gangs Donald Trump himself has referred to as “animals,” or trying to escape other kinds of violence, or poverty. But there is still no plan to reunite the close to 2,500 children who have been taken from their parents and scattered across the country, from Texas to Michigan to New York City. It’s not clear where migrant families will be held together, nor whether the family separations will continue as facilities are prepared.
Immigrants are changing the way Kansas residents speak.
Isolated towns and rapidly changing demographics alter cadence, emphasis, and phonetics.The town of Liberal, population 20,000, lies on the southern edge of Kansas, right where your thumb would be if you grabbed Oklahoma by its western-facing panhandle. The map around the town is barren. The nearest cities—Wichita, Oklahoma City—are hours away.
That isolation has not stopped immigrants from finding their way to Liberal. From around 40% in 2000, the Hispanic population is now the majority, at 60%. And while English is still the lingua franca in Liberal, Spanish-speaking immigrants have enriched it, subtly changing the way residents of all ethnicities speak to one another.
The existence of this new “Liberal accent” has been discovered by researchers at Kansas State University. They started out by interviewing high schoolers on sports teams with different ethnic makeup. “We were thinking that these teams—based on the ethnic groups that were participating in them—would sound different,” Trevin Garcia, a graduate student at KSU, told Atlas Obscura. “What we found was that they’re all really talking the same.”
Koko the gorilla passed away.
Known for her love of cats and ability to communicate through sign language, Koko died Tuesday at 46 years old.She became a celebrity who played with the likes of William Shatner, Sting, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Williams and Mr. Rogers. At her home preserve, where she was treated like a queen, she ran around with Williams’ eyeglasses and unzipped Rogers’ famous cardigan sweater.In so doing, Koko showed the American public that a giant ape didn’t have to be scary but wanted to be tickled and hugged.
Koko appeared in many documentaries, including a 2015 PBS one, and twice in National Geographic. The gorilla’s 1978 National Geographic cover featured a photo that the animal had taken of herself in a mirror.
An airport hangar is slated to become a “mega brothel.”
The Belgian city of Ostend will convert an abandoned terminal into “Hangar d’amour.”An abandoned hangar with protected architectural status is to be converted by the municipality of Ostend into a brothel to accommodate sex workers being moved out of the Belgian seaside town’s red-light district.
The so-called “mega brothel” – to be known as the Hangar d’amour – will be run by a company that already manages a 51-bedroom brothel in Antwerp, known as Villa Tinto.Ostend’s red-light district, Hazegras, will be cleared under the plan. The hanger will also accommodate a bar, brewery and plaza once the conversion is complete.
The plans have been described as “madness” by the non-profit group, Oostendse Oosteroever, which had been campaigning for the hangar to be turned into a museum to celebrate the town’s maritime past.Prostitution is legal in Belgium and since 1995 the renting of premises for such purposes has been permitted.
Around 26,000 women are believed to work in the sex industry in the country. The authorities estimate that 80% of them are victims of people trafficking or exploitation by organised crime gangs.Ostend’s mayor, Johan Vande Lanotte, claimed the new arrangement would offer more security.He said: “The ladies will enter into a rental contract directly with the owner, as a result of which intermediaries will be excluded.“The conditions will be better, and the sector will be purified. Abuses will be excluded or certainly limited. There will also be a health centre, an information desk and a room for the police.”The hangar’s exterior cannot be changed under Belgian law but the developers with whom the municipality is working will have the freedom to renovate the interior.