June 14, 2012
In late June of this year, for six consecutive 15-hour days and nights, 70 marketers under 30 from the greatest companies in the world will gather at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the most intensive development program in the marketing industry.
This all began about two years ago when Terry Savage, Phil Thomas and Steve Latham of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity called me to discuss what more we could do for clients at the Festival. Since 2003, when I brought the first large client contingent to the Festival as P&G’s Global Marketing Officer, the Festival has attracted a huge number of clients — about 20% of the attendees now. They come with their agencies seeking to raise their game in creativity, and to accelerate their business growth.
We decided in 2011 to pioneer a new offering at the Festival — an Academy for Young Marketers. The core idea was to begin to prepare the next generation of brand leaders to embrace creativity and learn how to lead breakthrough in the creative process. So we reached out to senior leaders at top companies like Kraft, Dell and Unilever to nominate top development marketers, and within days the class was full at 35. We capped it at 35 to preserve intimacy and to maximize interaction and personalized action planning.
We piloted the Academy last year: the sponsor was Wunderman, the direct and digital marketing network, and I was the Dean. For long days and nights, I taught, facilitated and challenged the “students” with my colleagues Suzanne Tosolini, who worked with me at P&G and is part of my consulting team, and UCLA Anderson’s Professor Sanjay Sood. We knew by the end of the week we had something very special: in our evaluations from the students at the close of the week, they ranked it on a scale of 1 to 5 an average of 4.9.
This year we have learned from our pilot, and have expanded the Academy to two sections of 35 each, with a tutor for each section (Suzanne Tosolini returns, and we are adding Serfi Altun, the founder of Idea Bakery, as a second tutor). Our objectives build from last year’s success. This year we will strive to:
— Help young marketers navigate Cannes – get them to the best speakers, interactive sessions, show reels, access to judging panels.
— Help young marketers learn from Cannes – facilitate insight sessions each day to interactively deduce the big learnings and “aha” moments.
— Provide tailored experiences – create a speaker panel for each day specifically selected and briefed against the academy objective.
— Help young marketers apply Cannes – make the learnings practical to their work, create sessions in which they can discuss real examples, ask experts for points of view on how to approach the creative process differently, how to manage their management or agencies differently, and to create a network that lasts beyond Cannes.
Our presenting sponsor this year is the Mobile Marketing Association, and they have been outstanding partners in developing the program. We have created a few new surprises for the students during the week — to enhance their learning and also to build their relationships more deeply with colleagues from other leading companies.
I cannot wait for the program to begin on June 17, and we are already thinking how to take this amazing phenomenon further. Next year we would like to again design and deliver an Academy for Young Marketers, but we would also like to pilot a similar Academy for Senior Marketers, which I would personally lead. We are doing research at the Festival this year among Senior Marketers to see how we could design an engagement for them that would dramatically help them build their personal leadership and capability.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved, please email my collaborator Steve Latham, Head of Talent & Training, at the Cannes Lions Festival: email@example.com