Ben Polkinghorne Cannes Diary: Day One

gidday all.jpgBen Polkinghorne, creative at Colenso BDDO NZ and co-winner of the Axis Emerging Talent Award (with Anna Stickley) has been picked as one of 35 creatives under the age of 28 to attend the 2013 Young Creative Academy in Cannes. Here he gives a rundown of his first day in Cannes.

Gidday all. I suppose the reason you're reading this is because you want to know why I have a crab on my head. Or perhaps you want to know more about the Young Creative Academy.
Either way, I can't help you. At least, I couldn't when I wrote this intro on the plane.
To say I had no idea what the course was going to be like when I found out I'd secured a place is an understatement.
I merely assumed the classes would be in English.
The short blurb on the Cannes Lions website describes the course as aiming to help us acquire the tools, best practices and inspiration needed to create Cannes worthy creative work.
Which sounded quite good, really.
I was in.
Day one began with a greeting by the chairman of Cannes, followed by the dean Bob Isherwood and Noor Azhar, our assistant tutor.
A guy from Unilever also spoke - we must not forget our sponsors.
Then it was time to introduce ourselves in the form of a three-minute chat about something we do outside advertising. Cut to us practicing yoga, listening to some singing and me harping on about the Auckland Burrito Review (ABR).
It seems there are 25 of us from 17 different countries. One guy is doing the course again as he found it so good the previous, inaugural year. High praise indeed.
Everyone seems quite nice. They might be reading this.
We were then taken on a tour of the festival grounds and it was around here that I discovered what it felt like to have work make the shortlist. Twice.
It's also worth pointing out the quality of the goodie bag every delegate receives is second to no other goodie bag I've ever been privy to. Made from what I can only assume is the finest cotton it surely puts the calculations out by a substantial margin. It has both a zip AND a pocket.
During lunch I bought a new pair of jandals/thongs/flip-flops and they are the most comfortable I've ever set foot in.
At 59 euros they may be the most comfortable I ever set foot in.
Pete Favat, the CCO from Arnold Worldwide and Shepard Fairey, the guy best known for his Obama hope poster and Obey street art were giving a seminar that a few of us dropped into. They talked about the role of the enemy in brand building, how Nike hates lethargy, that kind of thing. It was a rather interesting take.
Janet Kestin, co-founder of Swim then talked to our class about radical listening. She instilled on us that the reason we don't sell our best work more often is because we're poor listeners.
While the other party talks, we plan on what we're going to say to counter their point.
And when we're working on our defense we can't listen.
We did an exercise where we turned to face the still unfamiliar person next to us and locked eyes for one minute, without saying a word.
What we found was after 30 seconds of being tense, we all relaxed.
Then one of us talked for three minutes nonstop about the hardest thing we've ever done in our lives while the other person could only listen. They then had the right of reply for one minute to tell us what they thought about we said.
And vice versa.
It was interesting that this simple, short exercise broke down barriers with a stranger and how much we learned about each other.
In a normal conversation we're all too occupied with trying to push our own agenda, interjecting with thoughts, often trying to make the conversation about ourselves.
Her theory was if we really listen to clients' we'd be better placed to do great work and rather than selling work we should have a conversation about it. We should treat the work as a gift, but be completely open and listen attentively to any feedback before going away, reflecting and then making any changes if we deem necessary.
This listening exercise could probably be slightly modified and done with anyone.
Even your wife, if you have one.
Next up was the lovely lady who had the official title of Head of Entries - I feel terrible for not remembering her name.
She answered any and all questions we had before leading us around to see the design jury, who were at the shortlist stage of their deliberations.
It was rather neat to see and a nice way to conclude day one of seven.


Biz said:

Very funny read. You dont need a crab on your head to attract attention.

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