Fadi Yaish, regional executive creative director at Impact BBDO, talks Cannes
What are you expecting from this year’s Cannes?
Besides the fact that I don’t like to predict results, I could build expectations for any other award show except Cannes. Having entered Cannes for many years and also judged at the festival, it’s very difficult to predict. The work can go in any direction. People are lucky if they get shortlisted – this is the biggest barrier to begin with. With the jury numbers being cut almost in half this year, online judging, and everything that goes on in the rooms and the corridors, I have zero expectations.
How do you think regional agencies will perform?
I’m personally certain everyone in the region would hope we beat our collective achievements year after year. It’s very important for our industry, on many levels. But the real question is, besides the four pieces of work that are probably worth it on a regional level, how many of the other 14 grands prix that won at the Dubai Lynx this year can convert to a Lion or a shortlist? And how many of the pieces of work that did not even make it to the Dubai Lynx shortlist or got a bronze or silver will convert to a Lion? This is very important to keep an eye on for the sake of healthy benchmarking of great work in our region. And it is a question the Lynx has to answer, besides many more.
What work from your agency and the wider region do you think could do well?
Let me rephrase the question, because honestly for me it’s simple. We strive to do the best work for our clients, to solve problems and achieve the results they seek in the marketplace. We look at the body of work we did over the course of the year and enter what we think stands a chance of winning.
If it wins, great. Double the joy. If not, it’s still been a joyful experience to do that work for our clients.
What I’m trying to say is, getting acknowledged for doing the world’s best work is important for our business. But at the same time it’s more important to always remember that trophies are never a destination or a target in the first place. Therefore, counting trophies is very tricky and the real deal for me is how many pieces of work that won Lions at Cannes will be remembered? When you ask someone ‘what did you like in Cannes this year?’, how many pieces of work from this region will be among the four or five campaigns that most people will mention? Only if we are among those will I personally believe we’ve won.
How important is Cannes?
It is not more important than D&AD for me personally. It becomes more commercial every year, but it is the festival everybody’s eyes are on. More so clients than agencies. So therefore we made it important. Everyone strives to be the best in their office, network, region and across the world. It is a testimony that you did the best work. And that best work delivers the best business results and thus is acknowledged at Cannes. Sometimes big. And everyone wants to celebrate that kind of work and to celebrate brave clients, because brave clients are few and far between in the world. It is them who change our industry and push it forward year after year. And for me it is the best part of Cannes and I look forward for it.
What needs to improve in the region for us to keep pace with the rest of the world?
Oh my God, a lot. But we are okay. We did a lot of catching up over the past few years, but for the past two or three years we have been stuck. Stuck in our own skin, and how we do what we do. It’s time we break through and go for the next level. We do good work, yes, some small fireworks here and there, but our region is still not yet a legend or a cornerstone in the world of advertising. But we will, and much faster than people think.
Good luck to all my fellow colleagues across all agencies in the Middle East and North Africa. Break a leg. I hope you win and that, above all, your work is remembered.