Bringing Cannes Lions to London: What is Innovation?

As part of our efforts to bring the Cannes Lions Festival to our London HQ, Blake Cuthbert, Chief Digital Officer at OMD EMEA, hosted a panel which posed the question ‘What is Innovation?’

The panel kicked off with a stimulating and challenging discussion on the difference between creativity and innovation. Jamie Bell, Executive Creative Director of OMD Create, identified three groups; creativity, innovation and creativity that uses innovation. He suggested creativity and innovation can be executed in unimaginative ways yet, if you fuse the two: you get creative innovation which stands the test of time.

Marcos Angelides, Strategy Director for OMD EMEA’s Google Team, added that traditional media can be creative however we need to recognise that creativity on its own isn’t innovative. He suggested that most innovation sits in something that is non standard and emphasised the need to ‘break the medium’ in order to stand out.

Susie Burns, Director of Fuse MG OMD, then suggested that it’s not always about solving a problem, Susie gave the example of Uber and how the app was something we didn’t know we needed but makes getting places easier. Following this, Katy Dunn, Director of Consulting and Development, Annalect EMEA, added that innovation is all down to making something better and bringing value to something.

OMD UK’s Gareth Orr, Head of OMD Create, emphasised the importance of understanding the risks each of our clients are prepared to make as it will vary. This led to a discussion on bravery and risk, and the challenges we as an agency face when trying to get a client to take a leap of faith to invest in innovative ideas.

Marcos continued by talking about how innovation often is produced from briefs with the smallest budgets, as when the targets are high and the budget is low traditional methods will not produce the results clients are looking for. He suggested that sometimes having a huge budget prohibits innovation, all the while stressing the importance of being innovative even when we are faced with larger budgets.

In the latter half of the discussion, the conversation was framed around whether data is killing creativity. Jamie assured us that this is not the case and that data and creativity work tightly together. He highlighted the importance of fully understanding the need sake you are answering and suggested we replace the word ‘data’ with ‘insight’ as every good piece of innovation has to come out of an insight.

The discussion drew to a close with each of the panelists giving one piece of advice on how to be innovative. We were advised to ask the right questions when given a brief, to keep it simple, use instinct and ask yourself if you told your mate from outside the industry about the idea, would they find it interesting? The panel produced an interesting discussion and accentuates the importance of talks such as this one to inspire and educate.