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Bringing the House of Commons to Cannes

/ June 18th 2019

The House of Commons came to Cannes on the morning of Tuesday June 18 as delegates from across British advertising came together to debate on the importance of creativity in a business’ success. Newsworks Communications Manager Hannah Ohm-Thomas takes us through the debate.

The British advertising industry’s leading figures came together today to debate the case for and against the motion that creativity is the most important factor in a business beating its competitors. 

Proposing the motion was adam&eveDBB co-founder James Murphy joined by Grey London CMO Sarah Jenkins. Kicking off the debate, Murphy discussed the definition of creativity and how – through new ideas and perspectives – it has transformed markets and businesses, allowing them to differentiate and boost their value.

For British institutions like John Lewis, for every £1 invested in marketing, £25 is generated in profit. And big business is recognising the value placed on creativity, recently signalled by Accenture Interactive’s acquisition of creative advertising agency Droga5.

To second the motion, Jenkins focused on people. Commenting that without human inspiration we cannot drive businesses forward – machines don’t ask questions, but people do, and it is that curiosity that creates results. Murphy concluded, “we could have all had an mp3 player, but then Apple brought out the iPod” – the room smiled.

Next up, opposing the motion was Senior Analyst at Bloomberg Matthew Bloxham together with futurefactor Client Partner Sarah Taylor. Speaking on the importance of doing rather than just thinking, Bloxham used Thomas Edison’s quote “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” as the foundation of their argument.

Unpacking “perspiration”, the duo discussed business disciplines such as sound customer service, consistency of execution, diversity of workforce, speed, and efficiency and how they provide revenue.

Using the example of diversity as a way to drive results – something that is being widely discussed at Cannes Lions this year – according to McKinsey “the top 20% of gender diverse businesses, provide 27% more value creation”.

“Business is a sum of parts” said Taylor and they have to be dynamic to be able to move the needle. Although the pair acknowledge that creativity is good for business, the ability to effectively harness its power and translate that into value is key.

Bloxham’s summarised the opposition’s argument with “execution is the most important thing in the cocktail of business success.”

The proposition secured the votes they needed to win the motion, with all credit to the opposition for a very compelling argument.

The panel was moderated by Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association. The International Advertising Association (IAA) is a fellow member of The Debating Group.

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