To Cannes or not to Cannes

We pit Dare Vancouver's Shorkey brothers against each other for a smackdown of French proportions.
Shorkey vs Shorkey_image 1
Did you know there’s a pair of Shorkey brothers at Dare Vancouver? We didn’t. And it turns out, they like to argue. So we tapped them to have a debate. These brothers from other mothers tackle the semi-age-old issue of whether heading to Cannes for the Lions festival is even worth it.


Undeniably, there is talent in great supply in this business and we are forever finding compelling ways to influence and shape the modern world. All that gets put in the spotlight at Cannes.

In previous visits, I have listened to shrewd marketing insights from P&G, heard the future laid out by Google, been made to dance by Yoko Ono, and I’ve LOL’d for real at Ben Stiller – all in one freaking day. And I still had time to peruse prolific work, don my trunks for a dip and share a great meal with colleagues I’d never have met otherwise. That is a potent combination.

The event’s site says, “The Cannes Lions stage attracts some of the world’s brightest minds. From Hollywood stars and media moguls to tech experts and inspirational social commentators, they all come here to share their stories, to inspire, educate and delight.” And indeed they do – proving there’s plenty to drink in beyond the well-chilled rosé.

They have gone to great lengths to add dimension to the event and offer much more than the creative circus that it is sometimes made out to be. It is where the industry congregates, connects and, yes, celebrates. (It just so happens that, as an industry, we sure as shit know how to celebrate).

To be honest, while there, I’ve been almost oblivious to the actual awards at times and far more caught up in the rest of the experience. Sure, there is creative marvel in ample supply but, more than anything, my Cannes visits have helped keep my perspective fresh…and global. Whatever stage on which we perform, it’s important to understand what else is out there and recognize there’s precious bounty in that broader view.

derek shorkey

If done properly, Cannes will help fuel that constant curiosity that’s so vital in an often cynical industry. Undoubtedly, it’s helped my thinking stay “relevant” in an evolving business that favours freshness. And ideas never get the chance for greatness if they’re not relevant. So if you’re prepared to stay somewhat sober and focus on all that’s on offer, you can certainly be inspired, educated and delighted. So I say, “Cannes do.” But please, don’t ask me to dance.

Derek Shorkey, SVP, managing partner, Dare Vancouver (Most notably, he’s older, taller and at least moderately more stable than his brother Jeff.)


My heart says go to Cannes, but my liver says stay home.

Vancouver’s health-conscious vibe provides much-needed guilt for me, which curbs the occasional drinking spurred on by puzzling creative feedback or garden-variety existential angst. Sadly, this atmosphere would be totally absent in Cannes. And without the guilt trips and disappointed stares of righteous vegans and athletic types, I fear Cannes’ debaucherous vibe would take my alcohol consumption to dangerous levels.

The festival would become nothing more than a big, hazy back and forth of drunkenness and hangovers, often with overlap that made the two states indistinguishable from one another. And, unfortunately, I envision networking face-down with old-timey sidewalks at 4 a.m. instead of schmoozing with worthwhile peers.

So is Cannes the right idea for me? To be honest, for this year anyway, I’m more likely to be attacked by a lion than I am to win one, which means travelling there legitimately is out. So between that and the fear of irreparable liver damage, Cannes is a definite “no” for me.

However, skipping Cannes doesn’t have to stop my professional development as a copywriter. Maybe the ad industry is too insular with all these festivals. As a creative, I’ve discovered ideas often appear in mysterious ways, and inspiration is no different. There are lots of activities that have nothing to do with advertising that can get the juices flowing – and without wine flowing at the same time. Why not go to a Mennonite farm somewhere in B.C. instead of the French Riviera? Soberly erecting barns and growing a non-ironic, non-hipster beard might spark an idea I can’t even imagine right now.

Though if the agency insists on sending me to Cannes, maybe send me for the adult film industry festival instead of the

Jeff shorkey

one for advertising. I won’t win anything there either because my efforts in that arena are extremely amateurish and personal. But what that industry does to each other is often what many of us creatives feel advertising is doing to us too – especially when we don’t win Lions. So I think I’d have a lot in common with the adult people. How about it, Derek?

Jeff Shorkey , copywriter, Dare Vancouver (He feels foolish wearing shorts and is the creator of Don’t Feed The Humans)