The last few days have been some of the most intense in my career to date.
We arrived in Cannes on Saturday afternoon after 30 hours of travelling. Needless to say we were pretty tired. After a small mishap with Matt & Ara's share room (mishap = 1 bed) we ventured off to the old town for dinner.
On Sunday afternoon we were briefed for our Young Lions Media competition. Caroline Hurford from the United Nations World Food Programme delivered the brief, which was to use the current "Fill The Cup" creative concept to drive awareness of the WFP and to raise money to help feed 59 million hungry people throughout the world.
Caroline's delivery of the brief was amazing. It was so passionate and inspiring that we left the room with an ambition over and above winning the competition but to deliver something that would truly help the client achieve their goals.
Answering the brief wasn't easy. We spent six hours generating ideas, researching the client and crafting a core thought.... only to go to bed unsatisfied and stressed. We woke up early and over breakfast hardly spoke. The atmosphere was one of greyness. While we had a decent, very safe idea ready to work up, we knew that it wasn't a winner.
We wandered downstairs and met Matt & Ara. As we were discussing our dilemma, Matt started ranting on about how much he hates five cent coins. His diatribe led us to our Big Idea.
We realised that given the tough economic times people don't have spare money to give to charities but everyone does have spare change. Not change that you might use for the parking meter or Coke machine but change so small it is practically worthless. It sits in a jar on the top of your fridge collecting dust - it has no purpose.
So the strategy: Abolish the Penny. It was all about people forming a movement to eradicate the smallest unit of currency in their country and donate it to the WFP.
We were really proud of our idea. We knew it was strong but we also knew that there was tough competition in our category.
After presenting at 9.30am we had to wait six and a half hours for the announcement of the winner. As we waited we were told that the judges were still deliberating which delayed the announcement by an hour and a half. It was incredibly nerve wracking.
When we were finally let into the screening room for the announcement, Bronze (USA) and Silver (Belarus) were announced. As Bonnie (one of the judges) started to describe the winning strategy I knew it was ours but hearing her officially announce it was amazing.
As we made our way to the front of the room we felt like celebrities. We were pounced on by journalists and had around ten cameras shoved in our faces. It was just incredible.
Following the 'hollywood style' mayhem we raced back to our hotel and quickly got ready for the presentation. Matt & Ara were snuck in the back door and were able to share our special moment with us. Everything just fell into place.
The rest of the night is a bit of a blur. I had complete strangers approaching me to say how proud they were and happy for us. Dave Droga (of Droga 5) said he wanted me to come and work for him. Henry, my CEO was bursting with pride and presented us with a nice stimulus package. It was just completely overwhelming.
When I finally sat down at 3am my body involuntarily shutdown. I couldn't keep my eyes open which signalled it was time for bed.
A night's rest didn't do much to make this amazing experience anymore real though. I am still trying to come to terms with what this all means and can't wait to get home and share it with everyone..... well not get home too quick!