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Cannes Q&A: How creativity can level the playing field for a more equitable planet

Josh Budd, chief creative officer at Citizen Relations, shares insights from his time at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Which festival theme really stood out to you this year?

The theme that stood out for me was using creativity to level the playing field and create more equity. Mastercard’s Touch Card helps the vision-impaired; Google’s Real Tone’s efforts to include all skin tones; WeCapital’s Data Tienda helps thousands of female Mexican entrepreneurs obtain loans without credit history; Decathlon’s “the Breakaway” questions what rehabilitation looks like for the incarcerated were all inspiring work that solves real societal problems and amazing examples of the efforts and innovation brands are putting towards a more equitable planet.

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

I don’t know that I was surprised by anything per se, but I was impressed by how supportive and celebratory our industry is to one another. Day to day we’re competing for business, passing judgment on hires and fires and the work our competitors produce, but at Cannes, it felt like everyone truly wanted everyone else to win, for their clients and teams to be celebrated. It felt like the cattiness was lost with our luggage.

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

I do agree, but I don’t feel like this is emblematic of the pandemic. Businesses have long turned to creativity as a problem solver (thankfully for my career and family). The pandemic just created a new problem to solve. The interesting nuance to the pandemic problem was that it was so authentically universal, and everyone was working on it from endless angles and perspectives.

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

Canada stands near the top of the global stage in creativity. The challenge, and perhaps unpopular opinion, is that the market is (generally) more conservative than the ideas presented. Some of the work winning from around the globe has been presented here at home in the past and we’re met with a legal “no” before really sitting down and investigating. I think our industry tends to work off inferred risk versus actual risk and that’s on us as agency partners to illustrate the important distinction.

The future of creative is: Still in the hands of a group of curious humans with a problem to solve and a whiteboard.

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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