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B y J e r e my K at z
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1 GloryDaysOne of the better episodes of Black Mirror imagined a world in which
everyone had machine-augmented perfect recall of every moment
in life. The results are predictably horrific. Happiness depends on a
fungible memory, and so I can’t be sure of this. Still, I’m reasonably
certain that the first day of Cannes started with more of a bang
last year. This is the fourth year I’ve been covering the festival for
Ogilvy & Mather, and over that time Cannes has become larger in
size, broader in scope, and more digital in every respect. It’s also
become more nakedly promotional (hard as that may be to believe).
Today’s debut session was little more than a 30-minute infomercial
for The Walking Dead followed up by a MediaCom rich media
unit. I get the appeal of sharing your IP and plugging the launch
of your new spin off to this audience in particular, but that is old
media thinking brought to live events: pushing your messaging
onto a captive audience instead of delivering what they want.
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buttheGirlEarlier this year, human quote machine Cindy Gallop tweeted “We’ll
know we have parity when mediocre black women get bad ideas funded
at the same rate as mediocre white men.” She has elegantly articulated
the current feminist zeitgeist. Canes has always been good about having
solid female—and solid feminist—representation on stage, but that’s
not true of the advertising industry as a whole. Quite the opposite, in
fact. As Fast Company reported in 2013, “Despite the fact that women
control 80% of consumer spending, only 3% of creative directors (and
we’re not talking about celebrity CDs) are female.” It’s an open question
if the industry-wide response has been sufficiently robust. Cannes,
however, is doing its part. They’ve instituted the Glass Lion this year to
recognize work that addresses issues of gender inequality. Maybe that
will spur us to give more women the authority to make that happen.
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3 Culture ClubGay erotic art icon Tom of Finland was called Touko Laaksonen
when he’s at home—and when he was Senior Art Director at
McCann’s Finish office. Plenty of advertising folk do a little
work on the side. Few of them, however, change global culture.
David Ogilvy said, “Advertising reflects the mores of society, but
it doesn’t influence them.” That may be true of advertising, but
perhaps not for advertising folk. Tom of Finland is part of the
long line of figures that helped with the global mainstreaming
of LGBT culture. We have a global tradition of moving fringe
cultures from exile to appropriation to acceptance to inclusion—
and now to appropriation. Visual tropes of hyper masculinity,
for example, started in gay culture and flowed into the straight
world, but the fear is that appropriation by dominant culture
leads to assimilation of the subculture. And that’s a loss.