My Cannes highlights: Juhi Kalia

JuhiKalia.jpgCampaign Brief Asia asked Cannes Lions delegates to nominate their highlights of the week, from both the work and personal experiences, at this year's Festival. Here's J Walter Thompson's Global Brands ECD - Lux and Friso, Juhi Kalia.

I realise they are all cause-related pieces but big brand or not, the heart likes what the heart likes. These are my three most favourite pieces.

1.) Water for Africa, Marathon Walker won big in a few categories. It's like a punch to the stomach. Swift, simple and with the power to double you over in awe. What an amazing use of an existing platform.

Amidst 54,000 runners, at the Paris Marathon, a Gambian mother by the name of Siabatou Sanneh, also walked wearing her race number. But she walked with a 20 kg container of water on her head, while wearing her traditional dress and a sign that said ' this is how far women walk in Africa just to get water'. The dramatic visual contrast between the first world runners running for sport and a third world woman walking for life...
2.) I don't know what it was with all the walking this year; another one of my big favourites involved Neo Nazis marching. Apparently Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess was buried in Wunsiedel, a small town in Bavaria. This is why, for decades Neo Nazis have descended on this little town every year for a march, much to the despair of the residents.
Juhi_image1.jpgThey have tried many ways to discourage this pilgrimage; this year they finally succeeded with an anti-fascist prank. For every one meter the Neo Nazis marched, Wunsiedel's residents and small businesses donated €10 to an anti-extremist charity. So the Nazis either had to stop marching or get tricked into raising funds against themselves. Brilliant!

And executed with such a cheeky lightness of touch, it made me laugh, it made me feel like humanity might still be winning a little.

3.) There were so many pieces that were incredible in terms of technology, but sometimes the most delight comes from the fresh application of an existing, old bit of tech. Samsung's Safety Truck from Argentina. Something as basic as a wireless camera on the front of a truck livestreams to monitors on the back. Making it possible for drivers to see what is in front of the truck. This way, when they overtake, there are fewer surprises. Fewer accidents.

Juhi_image2.jpgKey takeaway: next time you feel outpaced by all the machine learning algorthims and the mind boggling prototypes from a DentsuLab or an R\GA, take heart because the joy and the innovation can also be in the idea itself.

Juhi_image3.jpgJuhi_image5.jpgJuhi_image6.jpgFive standout experiences for me this year :

1. Al Gore and Sir Martin Sorrell sparring and jousting. Not your average debate. Impassioned, razorsharp, impressive. Ended with WPP taking the lead on getting the top six networks to rally as a united industry effort for climate change. Special bonus: Al Gore's wit. 'Politicians are the biggest obstacle, but remember, they too are a renewable resource!'

2. It was mid summer's festival this week. A celebration of the summer solistice. As if there weren't enough parties already at Cannes, I chanced upon the best non-industry street party in a back lane behind The Grand. A refreshing agenda-free change from the usual.

3. Next, a round up, in less than 150 characters each, of some thoughts from the sessions I liked - 'Brand activism must be good for the world but also good for business' ( Innate Motion). 'Curiosity is the lust of the mind' (Matt Eastwood and Brian Grazer). 'The brain picks up not on the sameness of things but on the quirks and on the eachness' (Cognitive Neuro Scientist, Itiel Dror). 'The power of everyday versus seminal cultural moments' (Chris Moody in the twitter session). 'We always try to stay slightly BEHIND the curve. It allows us to see what's working and what's not' (Bob Greenberg while accepting the Lion of St. Mark).

4. At No.4, an interesting outsider's perspective on how a great idea doesn't always improve lives for everyone. Had a fascinating chat with a Taxi driver. In case you hadn't heard, there was a paralysing strike across France, protesting the unfairness of Uber Pop. It was shut down. But even he knows it won't last. He shrugs the familiar French shrug and says 'the little man can't win against mighty Google'.

5. And my final surprise of this year? I saw Adrian Grenier walking next to me on the Croissette. And yes, his hair is as curly in the South of France as it is in Entourage.

Juhi Kalia is Global Brands Executive Creative Director on Lux and Friso at J. Walter Thompson.

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