Chris Hirst, Global CEO, Havas Creative, explores some of the Group’s stand-out creative work at this year’s festival and the trends that will dominate at Cannes.
This year’s Cannes is different in so many ways, what type of festival are you expecting?
I think we may never go back to descending en masse to the South of France. We have learned many things about the way we work together, how we can overcome distance, time zones and physical separation and still be able to win, make great work and grow. I know I will be asking myself and our teams around the world questions about the amount we travel, where we go and why, so that when restrictions do lift and we can move again more freely, we’ll have set ourselves a new bar. We have a responsibility to protect our planet from the impact of business travel and we have proved that this industry can change when it is forced to – now we must show we can change because we choose to.
Tell us about some of the incredible creative work that Havas has put forward for the festival.
We’ve got so much great work entered from our agencies around the world, it’s incredibly exciting. In the US, we’ve got work from all our creative agencies; Arnold, Chicago, New York and Republica in the running.
We had a great day at Cannes yesterday. Havas London’s Black Plaque Project, which had already scooped a D&AD gold pencil as well as The One Show’s gold pencil, was awarded with a Gold Lion for Design. Arnold, was also awarded a Gold for their incredible work with the Red Cross. BETC has submitted brilliant work for clients ranging from Lacoste to Pornhub, and I’m also really excited to see what happens with Havas Turkey’s Vanish Water Index for Reckitt. I’m told there will be daily updates on the Havas Café online, so I’ll be keeping a close eye to see what happens!
Tell us about some of the trends you are expecting and anticipating?
More than ever, purpose and profit are going to be front and centre in terms of what wins this year. As our Meaningful Brands 2021 survey has shown, living up to the promises they make needs to be the central concern of brands as we enter an age of consumer cynicism. It’s not enough just to create comms around an issue if you’re not living and breathing the change that customers expect from the brands they interact with or spend their money on.
It comes down to good leadership – or perhaps, bad leadership! Leadership is in truth both the problem and the solution. When they’re led badly, brands will make knee-jerk decisions based on not enough information, or, in many cases, wait too long to act when change is needed because they are waiting for the golden bullet that will make the path ahead clear. Good leaders trust their teams, have faith in their processes and set their businesses and brands up for success. I hope we see work awarded this year that truly ushers in change from the agencies and brands showing good leadership in challenging times.
What are the things you’ll miss most about being at the physical festival in Cannes?
The chance to see many of our global partners face to face after one of the most difficult years I can remember in our industry. We have managed to thrive and grow both in terms of new business and creativity and I’m incredibly proud of our teams’ resilience and determination in the face of the hardest of times. I’m sad that I won’t get the chance to thank some of them in person rather than via Zoom and I’ve got to be honest, the rosé in the Riviera sunshine would certainly taste better after the year we’ve all had! I’ll open a bottle or two at home so I can raise a glass to our winners – fingers crossed!