As June approaches, the industry is anticipating which campaigns will be awarded for brilliant, ‘brave’ creative work, defined by Cannes as “work that takes chances in pursuit of excellence and changes the status quo”.
Last year, outdoor retailer REI’s #optoutside cleaned up across the festival after going against the grain by closing its stores on Black Friday, and ING’s The Next Rembrandt took the bank into the controversial world of AI and started a heady debate around whether an algorithm can truly create art.
Yet having the courage to take risks, make mistakes and take a stand to deliver this kind of brave work is often easier said than done. The rallying cry for bravery runs the risk of becoming hollow without practical application.
If you’re a seasoned CD then bravery might be a muscle that you’re happy flexing; fighting the corner for your work, pushing yourself or your client to get out of their comfort zone in pursuit of more effective campaigns. But for most of us, being brave is not something we are encouraged to actively practice at work on a daily basis. When was the last time taking a risk featured in an appraisal? Or you were rewarded for your resilience? How do you begin to challenge the status quo without causing mayhem, treading on toes or pissing your team or your clients off?
Yet the biggest and most successful creative companies (like Pixar, Google & Netflix) understand that bravery is something that must be nurtured and practiced, and they have feedback loops and processes that support it.
As someone who works with individuals and leadership teams to help up their creative ante and confidence I’m interested to explore what creative bravery means at work, in real time, and what opportunities it might open up if people felt they could focus on ‘how to be brave’.
So I’ve teamed up with Gerry Hopkinson, co-founder of east London creative agency Unity, who’ve been named ‘Most Creative Agency in the World’ four out of the last five years by the Holmes Report and are no strangers to the idea of creative bravery.
Gerry is passionate on the subject: “It seems to me that great ideas generally get pushed over the edge by people who just say ‘I feel this is right, and you’re going to have to just trust me or sack me’,” he says. “In the end it’s not giving up on an idea; it’s individual and collective bravery. People are after all braver when they know everyone has got each other’s back. I’m keen to hear other people’s stories of creative bravery and what we can learn from each other.”
We’ve developed an immersive workshop at Cannes this year to explore bravery in action, and how to develop this muscle if you want breakthrough creativity to thrive.
We don’t have all the answers! So as part of our research (for Cannes and beyond) we’d love you to hear your thoughts on the subject. What does creative bravery mean to you? What do you think would be possible in your creative life if you were more of a lion than a lamb? Do you know where to start?
Please take part in our short questionnaire here and, if you’re headed to Cannes, join us on June 21 from 15:00 – 16:30 for our workshop ‘#LambsToLions: The 5 Questions Every Creative Team Leader Needs to Ask’, The Workshop.
You can also let us know what you think using #LambsToLions on social and in the comments below