‘Maybe I should open a shawarma stand’

Memac Ogilvy’s Karim Sherif, re­ports back from his first ever Cannes Li­ons In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Cre­ativ­ity

ArabAd - - AWARDS - Karim Sherif Cre­ative Drec­tor Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai

Mad cats ev­ery­where. The great in­dus­try pil­grim­age to the French Riviera com­menced with a flight full of peers, part­ners and in­dus­try per­son­nel.

This was my first time at Cannes and I can’t even be­gin to tell you about the monumental amount of but­ter­flies jit­ter­ing in my jig­gly belly. There was this sense of uni­son, with ev­ery­one com­ing in from the re­gion. We were go­ing for gold as one united front. No pol­i­tics, no ri­valry and no Lynx lightsaber cross­ing. This was where it re­ally mat­tered.

A few days into the fes­ti­val and it started to feel like we were com­pet­ing in the Olympics. The US and Aus­tralia were sweep­ing the board. Then it hit me. This is big, very big. Things here aren’t just mea­sured by the sig­nif­i­cance of a cul­ture’s hu­mour, emo­tional rel­e­vance, how clev­erly you used your client’s small bud­get, or how many cans of Quaker Oats you helped your client sell this Ra­madan. Or even about chang­ing ev­ery­day behaviour. It must’ve taken jury mem­bers an im­mense amount of mind power to reach a col­lec­tive agree­ment on all the work en­tered.

I man­aged to meet up with some mem­bers from the cy­ber jury, who told me this was def­i­nitely a ro­bust year of ar­gu­ing, fight­ing, vot­ing and re-vot­ing – then light­en­ing the mood by singing the Coca-cola line-up song in the jury room.

But still, it was te­dious to think that most ideas went above and be­yond be­cause of the use of tech­nol­ogy, or a new in­ven­tion that helps a hu­man­i­tar­ian cause. It would be in­ter­est­ing to sit in a room with a client and ask them to give us all their bud­get and spend it on data col­lect­ing, then build some­thing and chan­nel it well enough to cre­ate a piece that would travel the mul­ti­screen uni­verse. The re­sults would drop the mic for you.

Ev­ery­one would later end up in the gutter. No se­ri­ously, I’m sure you’re all fa­mil­iar with that mangy place: The Gutter Bar. Peo­ple would pay up to €25 for a pizza no big­ger than a pi­geon and it was the tasti­est thing on the planet be­cause it was prob­a­bly the only thing open on the planet at that time. It got me think­ing maybe I should open a shawarma stand next year.

Fi­nally things started to look brighter for the MENA re­gion. Even great pieces from Kuwait and Bahrain con­verted rather well, though there was still an im­mense amount of great work that was left out or only got short­listed. Great work for Visa from Im­pact BBDO and for Royal Jor­da­nian from Memac Ogilvy Jor­dan could’ve eas­ily taken home a few good wins.

I sup­pose we re­ally need to delve harder and ra­tio­nalise what it is ex­actly we want our re­gion to stand for. They say you judge a county’s per­son­al­ity by its ad­ver­tis­ing. Do we want to walk with Li­ons, or do we want to help our clients by solv­ing their busi­ness prob­lems? Cannes may not nec­es­sar­ily give you both. It’s a gam­ble. But if it hap­pens, you can fi­nally have some peace of mind, quit ad­ver­tis­ing and open that Shawarma stand by the gutter.

A few days into the fes­ti­val and it started to feel like we were com­pet­ing in the Olympics. The US and Aus­tralia were sweep­ing the board. Then it hit me. This is big, very big…

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