Rookie Versus Veteran: Emma and Paul Yole’s Wrap-up of Cannes 2019

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Rookie Versus Veteran: Emma and Paul Yole’s Wrap-up of Cannes 2019

Paul Yole and his daughter Emma have been reporting each day from Cannes, exclusively for Campaign Brief. Links to these diaries can be found at the bottom of this article. This is Paul’s 12th Cannes and Emma’s first. Today they give us their different perspectives on what we can learn from the week. You can also follow Emma’s Cannes Instagram story @emmacyole.


Paul: We’re going to be a bit radical here.

Rather than write a list of our 3/5/10 takeaways/lessons/conclusions, we’re each going to describe our single most important message to everyone out there.

Emma: It’s pretty hard to narrow it down to one, but we’ll give it a go.


Rookie Versus Veteran: Emma and Paul Yole’s Wrap-up of Cannes 2019

The Palais entrance. It’s big.


Paul: My message is this:


Or, as legendary Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels told us, “We don’t go on because we’re ready, we go on because it’s 11.30.”

Michaels says you can argue all you want up to 10 o’clock but after that it’s ruthless.


Rookie Versus Veteran: Emma and Paul Yole’s Wrap-up of Cannes 2019

To be honest, I’ve heard of lot of the same old stuff this week, although it’s fair to say there was a refreshing absence of the usual bullshittery around “the digital revolution”.

Maybe that is simply a reflection of who I chose to listen to, but I didn’t hear blockchain mentioned once.

Use your creativity

I heard a lot about the changing face of the industry this week, as I have at every Cannes since 2007. But for me, our talent for questioning everything and using our creativity to solve important problems is what has never changed.

We need to rediscover what we are good at and keep going.

Rookie Versus Veteran: Emma and Paul Yole’s Wrap-up of Cannes 2019

It may not always be obvious, but the awards are still at the heart of Cannes.


Nick Law, Global CCO at Publicis Groupe, presented an argument for creatives to take up a leadership role. Fair point, because creatives have always been great challengers.

But I’d argue that it’s also time for leaders to take up a creative role. Get your heads out of the spreadsheets and keep challenging the status quo.

Challenging means always asking why.

Why should we do it like that, just because we always have?

Why do we need to change everything, just because the environment has changed?

(Those two are not mutually exclusive).

Embrace chaos

Richard Brim, CCO of that brilliant agency adamandeveDDB, talked about “the wonder of WTF and not being afraid to sound stupid”.

Rob Campbell from R/GA and Martin Weigel from Wieden + Kennedy talked about embracing chaos and bringing back the dangerous idea.

Now, I don’t have anything against holding companies or consultancies but the rest of us need to help them resist their worst instincts.

Weigel suggested consulting firms are buying competencies they don’t understand. Well, challenge them to understand, and let them challenge us about the way we are going about things. Because right now we need to be doing better work.

As far as holding companies are concerned, I may not go as far as Colleen de Courcy when she said, “Holding companies have grown so big they can’t even see their own dicks anymore.” But my take is to wonder whether the leaders could do more empower their agencies to challenge the way things are done.

Question creative standards

For years, many of us have been citing the research of Peter Field and Les Binet suggesting that award-winning campaigns are more likely to be effective than non-awarded work.

Now, for the first time, he revealed this week that may be changing.

Why is that? Are we awarding the right work? Is the work itself not improving? Both?

Time to refuse to accept the status quo. Keep challenging.

Think different

Actually, I stole that line from the Creative Marketer of the Year. You may have heard it before.

Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland is famous for his grasp of behavioural science. At the heart of this is an ability to challenge conventional wisdom. To change the context in order to drive choice.

Rory maintains that calling yourself an ad agency limits your opportunity to apply your creative problem-solving ability. Clients think if they don’t have a media budget you can’t help them. Wrong.

Brands themselves also need to think differently. According to Adam Morgan of eatbigfish and Malcolm Devoy of PhD, we now have more challenger brands in every category.

That in itself requires everyone to challenge how things are being done.

Put effectiveness ahead of efficiency, show your attitude, place creativity at the heart of everything you do.

We need to move away from thinking that purpose and customer experience are brand communication strategies. They aren’t. They are business imperatives.

Actions have always spoke louder than words.

So, challenge everything you’ve been doing.

Refresh and reinvigorate.

Change, or stay the same. Just keep challenging yourself, your bosses, your agencies and your clients.

See you next time.

Emma: My message is:


This week, I attended 18 sessions hosted by some of the world’s most influential creative minds. When I wasn’t in talks, I was mingling with top creative directors from around the world. I have four potential leads for jobs in Melbourne, where I am based.

I have had even more offers of support and help from agencies in New York, London, Prague, Sydney and Singapore to name a few.

I feel inspired to tell everyone I know about what I have learnt, and to make a change in the world of advertising. I’ve got a good grasp of where advertising is in 2019, and where it needs to go in the next year.

With this in mind, I have an important question to ask of all senior industry people: Why aren’t you sending your junior staff to Cannes?

For young advertising people, I ask this: Why aren’t you saving up to spend one week of your holidays in Cannes?

And for those who think Cannes is a waste of time and you can simply watch the talks online and read about what happens, I ask this: Is listening to your favourite artist on Spotify better than watching them play live?

Some of my favourite memories from my music background are attending the Australian Youth Orchestra’s summer camp programs three times.

The National Music Camp is a bit like Cannes but with people under 23. We worked hard all day, every day learning from the world’s best musicians and mingling with like-minded individuals, and everyone left the camp feeling inspired to push themselves further. Most of Australia’s professional musicians attended this camp when they were younger.

The advertising world can learn a lot from the music world. In music, we spend ample time encouraging and inspiring youth because we know they’re the future of our industry, and they can cause the most change.

Rookie Versus Veteran: Emma and Paul Yole’s Wrap-up of Cannes 2019

Lots of great free magazines for info hungry delegates.


So much more can be done to encourage junior advertising staff.

Here is an idea for agency heads: how about sending your senior staff to Cannes on the condition they take a junior staff member with them and mentor them through the week? Help them meet people, guide them with what talks to attend, and discuss each day what they have been learning.

Who knows, your senior staff might even learn something.

Everyone keeps saying the industry has to make a change, but nobody is doing anything about it. I think refocussing energy into the youngest staff in our industry is the way to do this, particularly because millennials are, quite literally, the future.

And take it from me, we don’t see the world the way you do.

I want to use what I’ve learned here to make a real difference. And I think people in advertising have more power to do that than they may realise.

I’ve invested a lot to come here and I don’t regret a cent.

I’ll be back. Will you be joining me?

View the Cannes Lions Wrap on the #digitaldoggybag here.

Read Paul and Emma Yole’s first diary here…

Read Paul and Emma Yole’s second diary here…

Read Paul and Emma Yole’s third diary here…

Read Paul and Emma Yole’s fourth diary here…

Read Paul and Emma Yole’s fifth diary here…

Read Paul and Emma Yole’s sixth diary here…

Rookie Versus Veteran: Emma and Paul Yole’s Wrap-up of Cannes 2019

It’s very tough to win at Cannes, as its should be.