Jack Neary

How many times have you visited Cannes?

How many times have you visited Cannes?

This was my fourth Cannes festival. (That’s 11 times in liver years.) And it was my second stint as a film judge. I enjoyed my judging duties much more this time around. Cannes can be a political circus and you have to be prepared to fight your corner for Canada and your conscience.

However the overall work was poorer. There were a few genuinely brilliant, original pieces, but there was a preponderance of expected, superficial, even banal work. The [majority] wanted for intelligence and a sense of the new.

How many from your agency attended?

Six. Even our CEO went. It says a lot when CEOs care enough about the work to make the trip. More should make the effort. The festival doesn’t only benefit young creatives. Old guys need that annual shot in the arm, too.

What’s the best thing about the event?

A strong dose of brain-stirring inspiration every time. Even judges feel it. It helps you to realize just how rare and difficult a truly original idea is to conceive, yet it spurs you on to try.

What work did you absolutely adore?

The stand-out idea was Honda’s Grrrr [awarded the Film Grand Prix]. It defies all convention. When was the last time you saw an ad that encouraged you to hate in the name of selling the product? Try never.

Who was the most impressive person you met?

Our jury president John Hunt, TBWA’s worldwide creative director. John did a masterful job steering 21 egos through a demanding week of high-flying opinions and other pyrotechnics.

It was also a treat to catch up with legend Lee Clow on the terrace of the Carlton one night. A giant in that or any town.

Did the Canadian work make you proud?

As a judge, I was pleased to help put 44 Canadian film pieces on the coveted short list, although the ads themselves did most of the work. I was proud of Taxi’s [Gold-Lion-winning] Viagra campaign. It was among the most respected work for the jury.

Overall impressions?

I probably saw more than 3,000 TV commercials in all. It made me realize how difficult it is to create ideas that are truly original. Most of the work was shallow and derivative and felt like award-winning work from years before. It is time for creative people to get their noses out of the awards annuals and instead look within themselves for something really new and unusual.

How many parties did you attend?

There were parties?