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As an initial skeptic, here’s what DDB Philippines’ Anna Chua-Norbert now thinks of Cannes Lions 2024

CANNES, FRANCE — Attending the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is a unique experience for everyone. As the most prestigious advertising festival in the world, it can be inspiring, overwhelming, and transformative. This year, Anna Chua-Norbert experienced the magic of Cannes Lions firsthand.

Anna exemplifies inclusive and progressive leadership within DDB Group Philippines. As Group Chief Culture Officer and Managing Director of DDB Philippines and Bent & Buzz, she fosters a culture of joy and respect in the workplace. Her pioneering efforts elevate the experience of Filipino employees, rooted in the Harvard Business School’s Service Profit Chain model.

Balancing her professional achievements, Anna is a devoted mother of three and an enthusiastic learner pursuing a Master’s Degree at AIM. She also volunteers as the Vice-Chairperson of the Governing Council of The Philippine Business Coalition For Women Empowerment and serves as a Board of Trustee for the 4As.


Here, Anna shares exclusive insights on the 71st Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, which took place from June 17 to 21. From initial skepticism to genuine appreciation of the five-day festival, she recounts her experience to adobo Magazine.

Stepping into the 71st Cannes Lions Creative Festival, I anticipated an experience filled with lavish luxury and exclusivity. Stories from people who have been there since the 90s talk about beautiful people, access to wealth, celebrities, the daily yacht parties, VIP lounges, and an endless flow of rosé. All of those I thought were cringy, considering what was happening in the world today. It all seemed inappropriate. 

Media companies certainly pulled out all the stops. Spotify had Ludacris performing, and there were 10 yacht parties daily. Meta launched its AR raybands, and Microsoft celebrated human creativity by telling us what AI can’t do — but wait, here’s our latest AI.

After all the sales pitches, I discovered something far more profound — a celebration of human creativity, vulnerability, and genuine connection beyond the extravagance. The festival’s true essence became clear: the power of ideas. 

Here, creativity wasn’t just about impressive displays but concepts that evoke emotions, inspire actions, and create a lasting legacy. It was about meaningful impact.

The “creative gods” I imagined with big, massive egos turned out to be real, relatable people. They weren’t merely crafting campaigns; they were sharing their souls. The festival showcased community, empathy, and the human experiences that connect us all. Every piece of work was a testament to the power of communication from a fresh perspective.

My initial skepticism melted away, replaced by a newfound appreciation. Walking through the hallway of “the works,” which showed the best ideas for the year, I realized that the festival was about making a real difference through creativity. 

And guess what? Our low-budget radio work received its first shortlist—a proud moment for this first-timer!

In many ways, [the festival] can do away with the unnecessary glitz, glamor, and flamboyant parties that could have easily built a hospital or a school for an impoverished country, but that’s not their job to fix. It took more than half a million pesos for us to get there and in their minds, they’re trying to make it worth our time, money, and effort.

Regardless, what needs to be said is a big thank you to the juries, judges who worked locked in rooms reviewing the work from sun up to sun down, while I got to hear the talks and walk about enjoying my time. And to the organizers who made this festival what it is, I know you’re trying to make it more sustainable and inclusive, but not boring like UN. 

You’ve made this first-timer journey unforgettable. Cheers to the Cannes Lions for continuing to celebrate the human spirit through creativity and for keeping hope alive that we all can leave a positive mark on the world through our ideas. The world can use more creativeness than skepticism. 

Cannes Lions 2024 isn’t just an event; it’s a reminder of our shared capacity to create, connect, and inspire. Explore more about the Grand Prix winners and their groundbreaking ideas.

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