Use your creative power to do good
It certainly has not been boring since we decided to enter the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge Explorations Round 10: Aid is working. Tell the world. A year ago we (AmLab) submitted a proposal called: How does aid work? Let’s ask the crowd. On November 1 last year we received the positive news we’d been selected to receive a grant and were invited to join the first Cannes Chimera workshop in Seattle.
Cannes Chimera is an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (a set of awards described as “the world’s biggest celebration of creativity in communications”). It aims to use the creativity of communication professionals around the world to help solve global problems. The Cannes Chimera is a group of exceptionally creative people who are previous Cannes Lions Grand Prix winners.
Since November we’ve worked really hard with the close support of the Cannes Chimeras to bring our idea to the next level. This meant communicating it in a much more simple and powerful way in our phase 2 proposal: Three60: tools for social change, which we submitted on May 1.
And now Marianne Gybels of 1%Club, Arjen Swank of Text to Change and I have just returned from the inspirational roller-coaster that is the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity during which we were invited to participate in a unique get-together for Chimeras and grantees.
I have tremendous belief in the power of creativity to solve problems and improve the world around us. I think the Cannes Chimera is a brave and inspiring initiative from which both AmLab’s Three60 proposal and I, personally, have greatly benefitted. I loved being there!
Advertising and communications agencies are a different audience for us – and one that is hard to reach – yet their power is enormous. The week in Cannes gave us an invaluable opportunity to connect directly with the best in the industry. The non-profit sector can learn a lot from agencies about making things simple and positive. Constructing a really effective communications campaign is a complex task, but it often involves a distillation of the key message down to an impactful one-liner – which in itself is very difficult to do well.
Above: the Three60 team (left to right) – me, Chimera Adrian Botan, Marianne and Arjen.
Top: an image from the large exhibition at the Festival.
Below: my Three60 business cards. Go on, try it!
Three themes emerged from the Festival; creativity, data and technology – all of which are highly relevant to both AmLab and Akvo. It was clear that big consumer brands are increasingly focusing on gathering real-time information to improve their insights on consumer preferences and behavior. It was kind of gratifying to see that we’re speaking the same language as these very large organisations and that our mission to help development actors tell the stories of their work is mirrored by a lot of big brands’ own thinking.
We had the opportunity to attend some very inspiring sessions which gave us a lot of food for thought. Here’s a selection of my favourites:
We also took part in a brand experience workshop lead by the Jack Morton agency about the partnership between Lego and Star Wars. In this session we were encouraged to stimulate our creative brain by looking at a Lego internet meme from last year (pictured below) according to the following five key principles of brand experiences:
- Invite participation – large enough surface area to connect to
- User – first (by) design – what’s in it for me?
- Tools that are delightfully useful
- Experiences that are infectiously shareable (what’s the reward we can give someone?)
- Builds community (brand experiences that resonate) – connecting the dots (giving a collective user base a single voice)
This meme is all about changing how you look at things. Can you identify the well-known children’s characters?
The creative mind-set environment of my week in Cannes helped me to get perspective on how to continue work on our Three60 proposal. At the moment we’re gathering feedback from organisations in the development cooperation sector and creative industry. To maintain all that positive creative energy we’re setting up our own creativity session in Amsterdam in mid-July and connecting with a couple of Chimeras to accelerate our Three60 approach and enrich our messaging.
We need to connect with people that would like to share their challenges and involve the crowd. Three60 gathers data – information and stories – directly from people involved within the development chain. Since Cannes, I’ve been able to start to map out visually how Three60 provides an intersection between technology and data on the one hand, and creativity on the other. Perhaps it’s an ‘authentic open data storytelling machine’ to connect everybody involved.
Amlab’s vision for change combines the bottom-up approach with internet and mobile tools for social change. We believe the future of aid transparency could be something like this: Go Three60. The Three60 label for aid transparency and the Chimera power of creativity together should build a strong sweet-spot to do good.
For some impressions of the Cannes Lions festival 2013, check out my Flickr set.
Frodo van Oostveen is a programme manager at Akvo, based in Amsterdam.