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Why our best work comes when we aren’t working, according to John Mescall, McCann Worldgroup’s Global Executive Creative Director

CANNES, FRANCE — Effort is more visible and people are finding tribes again. This is how McCann Worldgroup Global Executive Creative Director and Global Creative Council President John Mescall described the 69th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to adobo Magazine Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero, as they sat down to talk about the work at Cannes, creativity in general, and his overall philosophy.

“I think the work feels a level below where it normally is,” Mescall said when asked about how he felt the work this year, noting that it had been a hard time for humanity.

“The very best work has a joy and a magic to it that I think comes from almost serendipitous moments where we’re not necessarily working.” These serendipitous moments, he said, often happen in the workplace where ideas can strike when walking down the hall or bumping into people.


For him, there needs to be a new way to recreate serendipity in a world where people are not physically together. He termed it eloquently: “The work comes from freedom enjoyed.”

Mescall understands the creative community; his career has been one of transforming these communities and bringing them to the fore. It was in 2016 that he became President of McCann Worldgroup’s Global Creative Community, providing creative leadership across McCann’s global brands and working closely with McCann’s creative and strategic leaders across all markets. Under his leadership, McCann Worldgroup for the first time in its history was named Network of the Year at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival. Prior to joining McCann Worldgroup’s global team, he was McCann Australia Chief Creative Officer. His track record includes The Gunn Report Agency of the Year, D&AD Agency of the Year, Cannes Agency of the Year (Runner Up), AWARD Agency of the Year, Spikes Asia Agency of the Year, and Campaign Brief Agency of the Year.

After the festival’s two-year hiatus from staging the event in-person, Mescall said that “all the serendipity has been finally getting people to see again.”

“Everything we saw has come out of lockdown, has come out of almost 18 months of anxiety, separation,” he said. “People realize now how special it is to connect without agendas.”

According to him, the greater point for the brand and the festival is for ideas to transcend and make an impact in the real world.

Angel Guerrero (Left) and John Mescall (Right)

“I don’t want our work to just live in the ad bubble,” he said. “I can make a great idea but then you need that idea to impact the world in a powerful and meaningful way.”

But most of all, Mescall said that beyond the amazing work, “We should never forget that it’s humans creating the work.”

Founded in 1954, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is the home of great ideas. For over 68 years, Cannes Lions has served as a convening force for the global creative community. The Lions, the industry’s most prestigious, coveted creative accolade, receive thousands of entries every year. The work is judged by over 400 authoritative, respected creative leaders before the winners are showcased and awarded at the nightly awards shows.

The winners of the Lions will be announced at evening Award Shows taking place throughout the Festival, from June 20-24, 2022. Further information on how to be a part of the Cannes Lions can be found on the official website.

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