We've been empowered to change the world, and we should - Jason Williams talks Cannes Chimera

Cannes.jpgJason Williams, executive creative director at Leo Burnett, Melbourne discusses his rewarding experience of being on the Cannes Chimera jury, exclusively for CB

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? There are probably not many Australians who really know what the foundation does. I was one, until I was lucky enough to be selected on the first ever Cannes Chimera Jury.

To see the 2012 Grantee ideas and find out further information about how you can get involved, visit the Cannes Chimera website here.
Gates foundation.jpgThe Gates Foundation is an inspiring organisation, with over 1,100 people working to develop vaccinations for Polio and AIDS, agriculture, poverty (15% of people in the world live in extreme poverty) and family planning.

The foundation's game changing scientific research is aiding the human race on a scale that is so inspiring you can't help but feel empowered.

As a fellow Cannes Grand Prix winner in 2011, Ant Keogh from BBDO and I were very fortunate to recently be part of the first Cannes Chimera panel, with 12 other world-class Grand Prix-winning creatives.

So what is the Cannes Chimera? It is an initiative by the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which aims to use the creative power of communication professionals around the world to do good.

If you're wondering, a Chimera is a mythological Greek character made up of three different beasts, one being a lion.

The Cannes Chimera offers the ultimate creative brief. Come up with ground breaking communication ideas that will change the conversation about Aid and curb cynicism. Research shows that many of us don't believe Aid is working for many reasons: corrupt governments, money not reaching recipients, over saturation of charities and advertising, etc.

How it works is that a brief is posted periodically, the best ten ideas are then awarded a development grant of $100,000, and the finalists are flown to a special "university" session to meet with the Cannes Chimera for two days.

Grantess.jpgThe Chimera's role is to work with the finalists to make their ideas better. After this process, the finalists have the opportunity to go back to the Gates Foundation and apply for $1,000,000 to make their idea a reality.

As a creative, the sound of this should be making your toes tingle with excitement. It's a genuine commitment to the development of your idea on a huge scale.

Further proof of their dedication was flying the Cannes Chimera Jury and grantees to Seattle. It was a two-day, hard-core ideation session designed to help put the ten chosen ideas on a trajectory for success.

Before we could get to Seattle though, it was the Chimera's job to read through 900 incredibly detailed submissions. We were responsible for recommending three picks that had the potential to change the conversation about Aid. The Gates Foundation then chose 'THE ten' from our shortlist. 

With such a diverse group of grantees and disciplines, it was always going to be an interesting experiment. There were submissions from students, universities, filmmakers, charity organisations, agencies, designers, digital companies, filmmakers and journalists.

The lads from Future Buro in Australia were lucky enough to be chosen and from all accounts loved the opportunity. Their idea smacks of potential.

However, for some it was a shock having their work critiqued and deconstructed by optionated, fast thinking creatives. Luckily after a day of discussions, they could see their ideas evolve, and by the end of the two days they could see that they'd grown into something bigger and more potent.

Gates visitor centre.jpgIt was an amazing experience that has left me inspired to act. I have every intention of contributing to this fantastic organisation. The Gates Foundation has truly empowered us with a mandate to help change the conversation about Aid.

Let's collectively use our creative ability to have a positive effect. It's not very often, actually probably never, that an organisation is willing to back ideas at this level.

It's our chance to really believe we can make a difference.

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