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Cannes Q&A: Canada still not getting credit it deserves, says Canadian Tire VP

Eva Salem, senior vice-president of marketing and brand for Canadian Tire Corporation, insights from her time at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Which festival theme really stood out to you this year?

For me, the festival really shone a spotlight on sustainability grounded in Brand Purpose. There was a lot of discussion on our role as brands and marketers in this space and the need to step up with courage and new solutions. One particularly poignant moment for me was when a surprise speaker (part of Good Life 2030) spoke about how the sustainability crisis we are facing is not going to be solved by governance, legal, risk, etc. We have been approaching the problem with the wrong disciplines in mind. We need to put people on the job who know how to lead cultural shifts. We need people to think differently so that they can act differently and who better than our industry to help do that.  

What surprised you most about your involvement and experience in the festival? And why?

I was a little worried that this year’s festival would be a bit watered down given the past two years and would be ‘stuck’ in pandemic management and discussion. It was not. Attendance felt as strong as in previous years, the quality of speakers and their content was as thought-provoking and inspiring as I had hoped, and the themes were material to the challenges we are all facing today. I didn’t realize how badly I missed and needed the Festival untilI was there.

Under the duress of the pandemic, businesses turned to creativity as the ultimate problem solver. Do you agree with this statement?

I think smart brands were able to use creative problem-solving during the pandemic to differentiate and not only survive but thrive. The problem though, was that for the most part, there was so much brand risk at the time that most brands ended up in the sea of sameness. With everything that was happening in the world, I found most brands to be even more risk-averse which resulted in less standout creative and generally a more monotone brand voice.  

In terms of creativity, where does Canada stand on the global stage?

I have always felt that Canada is undervalued globally in terms of its creative strength. We usually have a couple of big winners, but overall, I don’t think we get the credit we deserve. There’s definitely an opportunity for us to unite, be more supportive of one another’s work, and do what we can to get the word out and create some buzz.

The future of creative is: limitless. 

The Globe is the official Canadian representative of Cannes Lions — the world’s most prestigious and coveted advertising and marketing awards. Since its first outing in 1954, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been bringing the creative communications industry together every year at its one-of-a-kind event in Cannes to learn, network, and celebrate.

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