Dubai Lynx Diaries: Excited, Inspired & Yet, Disappointed

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I look forward to Dubai Lynx every year. Three days out of the office to immerse in the celebration of all things creative in our industry. After two years of competing in Young Lynx, I hung up my ‘Young’ hat this year and spent my time planted firmly in my seat for as many talks as could hold my attention.

This year, as with every year, I walked away feeling excited, inspired and yet, a little disappointed.

Not because industry stalwarts were lacking or because there wasn’t a representative global mix in the content or even that Google didn’t have a stand with fascinating technology and great snacks this year (that was very sad though) but the disappointment comes, occasionally, from the content.

After Day One, there tends to be repetition. Consequently, we end up hearing analogies of similar trends using the same examples. Last year, I wondered if Chipotle deserved royalties given how often we saw the ad.

It is also frustrating when speakers utilize too much of their time to talk about their own work and not a lot else, despite what the programme said. As a strategic planner, I spend time staying abreast with the best work in the industry and as such, I want to know what nuggets of wisdom I can take away to apply to my own brands and challenges. I want to be inspired by the experience and knowledge that only industry veterans can provide.

But I digress, because Day 3 of Lynx 2016 was surprisingly different. Content was rich, and speakers were dedicated to enlightening their audiences. Though not truly actionable or new, I took plenty of food for thought, which was enough to make battling the freezing AC of the Festival Hall worth it.

The Takeaways
We talk a lot about ego in advertising and it was refreshing to witness that for PJ Pereira and the team at Pereira & O’Dell, winning multiple Grand Prix at Cannes didn’t change their advertising mission. The takeout being be humble and remember what clients need and that when it comes to content, consumers should never regret the time they spent watching our creations.

Susan Credle from FCB managed to successfully, and refreshingly honestly, capture the essence of working in advertising by being optimistic, realistic and pessimistic about it interchangeably throughout the session. Using Howard Gossage to lead her exploration of why he was ahead of his time, and still relevant today, to explore the difficulty of staying in love with an industry that is often so confused about itself. She suggests that what truly keeps us here, despite our (and Gossage’s) negativity about advertising, is the hope of doing great work which she defines as capturing consumers’ imagination and keeping it. Our work should be about inspiring a few loves not loads of likes, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

Ali Ali’s MENA New Directors’ Showcase brought the fun and chuckles to the post-lunch slump by introducing us to the best new directors in the region. My advice would be to hurry and book these awesome talents soon before their rates shoot up.

James Murphy from Adam&Eve DDB London managed to tick all my Lynx boxes: informative and actionable, inspiring and goose-bump inducing and didn’t make me clock-watch once. Being English, there is a special place in my heart for John Lewis which has been much amplified by the fantastic work from Adam&EveDDB London over the years. Utilizing simple yet achingly accurate human truths to combat a business challenge, it has consistently managed to do what the industry often fails to; creative you’ll watch time and time again, that gives you all the feels without being left feeling emotionally manipulated. My favorite talk of the day, it spoke to me not only as a strategic planner but also as a homesick Brit.

So, as the warm and fuzzies subsided, I left Dubai Lynx 2016 wondering what the purpose of it all was – if it was supposed to expose me to the best creative work from our industry over the past year or was it supposed to inspire me with the best creative work and provide me with the tools to make better work myself? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will still look forward to next year, and maybe we will figure it out then.

Note to Google for 2017: please bring back the snacks.

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