Two of the planet’s most creative minds have told the Cannes 2015 crowd the best way to engage and audience – and that’s humour.
Advertising legend, Sir John Hegarty (right in photo) and filmmaker and activist, Richard Curtis (Mr Bean, Blackadder, Bridget Jones to name but a few), have joined forces to not just leave the planet a better place than this generation found it, but to espouse the virtues of lightening-up as the most effective way of communicating with others.
Speaking at a press conference at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity shortly after stepping off stage to promote their upcoming #wehaveaplan campaign that aims to get to get to seven billion people in seven days and get them to get behind the UN’s goals for humanity, the pair were ardent in their support for laughter being the best medicine.
Asked as to why they had opted for humour as the best way to convey their very serious message aimed at eradicating such things as world hunger, injustice and gender inequality, Sir John Hegarty – the “B” in TBWA and the founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty and before that – was not backward in coming forward.
“First of all the brief was it’s got to be global, it’s got to work across the world. I think the other thing one wants to do is to create a degree of positivity about something,” Hegarty said.
“It’s very easy to depress people. It’s very easy to impress juries at Cannes with shock and horror and deprivation and all of those things – noble as some of them might be.
“But I personally believe that if you can come out with a message that actually catches people’s imagination, makes them feel good about and the idea of sort of recreating this moment at the United Nations when all of these countries came together and said yes, we have a plan, I thought would be a great thing to do, a positive thing to do, and obviously do it that there not people they’re the animals that represent those countries.
“I think giving people hope is really important and I think it’s great to do that. I think it gets people really sort of activated.
“You know, with all due respect, Richard [Curtis] started a fantastic thing called Red Nose Day, when he got people to stick a red nose on their face to sort of support charity.
“People forget that humour is a wonderful way of communicating. You learn more when you’ve got people smiling and you get more action when you’ve got people smiling. Make sure you’ve got the right smile, but that always works much, much more than just shocking them. It might win with juries in Cannes, but it doesn’t work with the people out there.”
Richard Curtis, the bloke who brought us Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually and every other decent British rom-com, and who does some pretty amazing charity and activist work on the side had something to say on the use of humour too.
“It’s very interesting when I used to write sitcoms, if ever you wanted to plant a piece of information, you had to do it with a joke. I used to write this show called Blackadder and if you wanted the audience to remember that a certain Lord was coming to dinner they wouldn’t remember it unless you made a funny name for the lord and then they would laugh and they would remember that he was coming to dinner. So I do think that that is one of the ways of making people involved,” Curtis revealed.