Unknown Origins

Fiorenza Plinio on Creative Excellence

November 05, 2020 Fiorenza Plinio Season 1 Episode 26
Unknown Origins
Fiorenza Plinio on Creative Excellence
Show Notes Transcript

Fiorenza Plinio is the Head of Creative Excellence at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where she nurtures creativity across all the company's products and services as well as creating continuous innovation and engagement with the global creative community and organizations to build programs that bring to life the highest levels of creativity at the largest gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry and beyond.

She provides perspective on creative excellence and her approach to nurturing creative talent and community engagement. 

Fiorenza was a journalist at the news agency ANSA in Paris and wrote for several international publications. She holds a Masters's degree in Media and Journalism from the LUMSA University in Rome and the Sorbonne in Paris. 

 Web: www.unknownorigins.com
Twitter: UnknownOrigins9
Instagram: unknownoriginsuo77

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/unknownorigins)
Roy Sharples:

Hello, I'm Roy Sharples, and welcome to the unknown origins podcast series, the purpose of which is to provide inspirational conversations with creative industry personalities on entrepreneurship, pop culture, art, music, film and fashion. Today's topic is creative excellence, for which I have the pleasure of chatting with forenza plinio. violenza is the head of creative excellence at the Cannes Lions International Festival of creativity, where she nurtures creativity across all aspects of the company's portfolio of assets, to drive continuous innovation and engagement with the global creative community, and organizations to create programs and campaigns that bring to life the highest levels of creativity, at the largest gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry. fiorenza was a journalist at the news agency answer in Paris, and root for several international publications. She holds a master's degree in media and journalism from the lamsa University in Rome, and the Sorbonne in Paris, what inspired and attracted you to the creative industry?

Fiorenza Plinio:

Yeah, so let's say I think I need to go back to when I was 20 years old, because I was actually I didn't, I was not working in the creative industries, such really because when I graduated from, from Rome and Paris, I studied media, and then I did a master in, in journalism. So my first real job was as a reporter for a French news agency. So I was about 20 years old back then. And I learned a lot from that job. And if you think about creativity, and that job, obviously, you know, journalism is about creative writing, in a way, but on the other side, you need to, you know, report on on matters that are not necessarily so creative, which is like business or, you know, anything to do with politics, etc. But that job definitely taught me that, you know, good journalism is finding, let's say, that story that hasn't been told yet. And which, perhaps, will, will end up affecting people people's lives and letting them know about it, right. So after graduating from university, that name, I moved to London, from Paris to London. And then this is when I landed a job, a colognes, the International Festival of creativity. And so, what drew me to to Cannes Lions really kept him kept me there for about 10 years now, is the fascination that I always had with the creative industry, and its ever evolving nature. So every day, as you can imagine, you know, in our industry, in the creative industry, there is a shift every day, there is an innovation every day, there's a new way of doing things. So colognes our festival I am, is a platform really is a platform that reflects those, those shifts in the industry. And so I'm also you know, I also get the chance to work with inspiring people from from the creative industry, the marketing industry, through the festival, and and beyond the festival, these are all people that have been influencing my thinking and expanding my knowledge. So, also the culture that we have, at our company, ensure the time and come to pushed to experiment and, and also to launch new project and new projects. And this is quite addictive in a way. So, you know, people ask, asked me, sometimes, you know, what do you do apart from the festival, because obviously can't lie on something once a year in June in the city of Khan, but but we have, you know, we are more than just a festival, we do have training, we do have a digital platform that, that we we basically have, we also talks and seminars throughout the year. And so it's really, you know, the work we do is to connect with, with the industry to listen to the creative industry. And, and that that way we can really develop a festival that that is not just about, you know, awards and award winning creativity by it's also about you know, like having inspirational content, where you go to when you come to our festival, you really can expand your knowledge on what what are the trends and, and and teams that are impacting our industry right now. And that I think is really fascinating about the work I do.

Roy Sharples:

I went to the Cannes Lions Festival last year And it was the first time I've ever been there. And it just ma e me think this is exactly how e ents should be done, you kno , in terms of the content, the ypes of people, the themes, i was really inspiring. And all o the other events, I've kind of been to up to that point, it a ways kind of been a littl bit lethargic and a littl bit staged, and I'd got bored r ally quickly. But with conte t, I never wanted it to end, i was just really engagin and exciting

Fiorenza Plinio:

it's that kind of those of, you know, like, everything that is happening in the industry, you get distilled down in five days of content and work. And I think an important part of what we we do for for our industry is to really showcase the best work that is happening in the industry. So you go to canon, you know, spy days is not just about learning bias was about seeing what is the best work coming from literally every corner of the world, you know, from from Asia to Africa, Europe and the US, South America is everything. So you come, I think you come back to work for people that I talked to tell me that they come back to the go back to their agencies, to their companies, really recharged, you know, and and really inspired so they can potentially they can do better work, they can produce better ideas,

Roy Sharples:

What does creative excellence mean to you?

Fiorenza Plinio:

Yeah, so I was thinking about this question, actually, when we talked last time, and I think, you know, some people believe that creativity, first of all, creativity is, is only it's only about creating something new. But I think from my perspective, creativity, so so problem solving, and, and doing something differently, doesn't have to be necessarily new, but different. So, and without creativity in the world, our life, you know, hoopy just so bland, you know, imagine there would not be new songs on the radio, we would be all dressed in the same and technological progression would not be the same. So creativity, I think there are two things that when I think about creative excellence, actually, and think about the work I do with brands and agencies, I think creative excellence, security, excellence in is linked strictly linked to two things, first of all business impacts and, and secondly, social good, and they want it, we can talk about that a little bit more. But I think when you think about creativity, it's not just about the process of being creative, of producing something new and different. But you know, when you when you work for, I don't know, for any brands, really that I'm not gonna name names, but or an agency, you need to think about so how creativity can produce business impact can the console can can can raise your, your, your saves in your ROI. So I think when people you know, there is a book, actually, that I would encourage everybody to read, and this is called the case for creativity. And and if you read it, right, this is by James Herman. And this book is, is basically telling us what, why creativity is so strictly linked to business impact. And, and so it's interesting book really showing the data behind this, what I just said, So, what this guy James actually what he did the analyzed about 20 years of creative work, entered into our festival. And what he discovered is the most awarded campaign campaigns, so they highly created the most creative campaigns, that were also the ones that generated more business results. So I think that's very important when you work for a brand or an agency thinking the creativity is not only good, because you're okay, you make a piece of piece of work, which is amazing. And, you know, and and you're satisfied with it, but also think about business impact. And this is strictly related, because they have the data now, the proof that creativity as an impact on sales. And then the second thing I would add, I think, from what from the work I see being entered and winning in our festival, is that creativity also is is a very important tool to promote social good. So creative agency are aware of the effect that the creativity art has on culture and and so they use creativity, to provide brands with the tool tools to go to do good in society in the world and to put ethic at the center of what are what they stand for. So you know, so this really, I think when I think about creative excellence is definitely about doing good. Using creativity to do good in the world and also impact your sales in terms of your creative process.

Roy Sharples:

How do you make the invisible visible by building partnerships and experiences for your clients at the festival and throughout the year?

Fiorenza Plinio:

Yes, that's a great question. I think, first of all, when I think about creativity, as you know, one of my skills and how I use creativity in my daily job, I think is, you know that there are three things that, you know, we, when I work with my clients, especially, we need to think about is like, first of all, how make them aware that they can be creative, because they know there are so many brands that they, they do things like in a way that is quite traditional, and they don't really, they don't really open to kind of, you know, they're not open develops to do things differently, to try new, new ways. And I think creativity was about that, you know, making them aware that there is new way of doing things, and, and also developing creative routines and habits. I think that's important for for companies we work with. And and also there is no creativity, I think without diversity. So when, when we, when we create content in Canva, also thinking about the training and the programs that the private training that we offer, on creativity that we organized for companies to work throughout the year, we think about diversity, because I think that is an important important, you know, is a key element of creativity, because you cannot have creativity without a diverse team. First of all, if you think about teams, and creative teams, from agencies, and also when can we try to really, when we organize our cover, we when we put together our content sessions, we really make sure that there is diversity because you know, otherwise, you're you don't, you don't have you need to you need to hear the different the different actors that are in it, whoever it people that are talking about creativity in a different way. So diversity is a key element of that, but also some of the training that I run for our for our clients, including include sorts of improving their creative processes, and we're talking about providing them with tools, you know, to improve those processes. So we look for example, or their ideas, and we would help them to go from, from just an idea to a fully integrated marketing campaign. And this is why the training we provide so my experience, you know, is that creative idea that work are the ones that have the power to make a real impact on business, but also an impact on society. So we help brands to, to, to be like to create work that can have an impact on business, but also on society. So that that's very important for us. So when we, we work with brands throughout the year, but also that also that the rule also applies to the content and to into the to the program that we put together in con for for our delegates, you know, so really making sure that they understand the value of creativity,

Roy Sharples:

your point about creating creative habits and routines. And trig me, can you give some examples about what you mean by that?

Fiorenza Plinio:

Yeah, I think I think he's just about understanding, where you have a creative idea when the offense The problem is with some companies and agency, mainly companies, because agency obviously should be their job to, to do that, to do that, right. But when you talk to a brand and they think, like they don't really they are not used to support a creative idea where they are, where they have it, you know, when is there it's already maybe embedded in, in some of the processes that they have, but they don't know, they do have that idea that are their doorstep, you know, so they, sometimes they looking outside, they're looking somewhere else and sometimes don't even know how to generate they need some sort of without telling them how to generate an idea creative idea, of course, we don't do that, but we we give them tools, tools that are sort of needed in order for them to, to to to embed creative processes and habits in their daily routine. So that's about tools right is not as may not tell him, you know, telling clients, this is how, you know you generate a creative idea because creativity is kind of Heidi It is not our role, but we need them to send me the damn insights. Because if you think that our festivals has been going on for 66 years, right? So we sit on an enormous amount of data and insights from the comes from 66 years of, of creative work and campaigns been handed you know, into our festival So, we can put together you know, insights for for any brands really which are bespoke. To each specific clients we work with sites have varied from anything to do with data and technology all the way to brand porpoise and activism or sustainability, environmental causes, financial is merely in the amount of insights we can provide this is pretty huge. And so that that's I think that's the value of that of our training or so if we can really, we really provide insight and data, which is it's varied. And and this in the comes from 66 years of, of basically providing our industry with with a festival that incorporates all these insights and data.

Roy Sharples:

Yeah, I think that's a great point around having that diversity of insight, and being able to infuse that within the kind of festival and all the other work you can do as well. Then, the other key point that you said there around, you know, you're not trying to dictate to people how creativity should should be done, or how ideas should be generated, but you're, you're enabling them through the toolset. Yes, that is a technique that you provided us based on that insight and proven practice and working across multiple disciplines. Would you be okay to provide some specific examples of the creative work that you've seen submitted to the online awards that set the highest standards for creativity?

Fiorenza Plinio:

Yeah, I was thinking about this question, actually, before connecting with you. And I was, you know, as you can imagine, there is so much work that I could talk about plenty of examples, if you think about last year festival, we had over 20,000 cases being submitted to the festival. So I was on the PC. So I think I picked I wanted to cut on the, this campaign that really stood out because as I said before, creativity is not just about, you know, the actual extra creative idea and the business impact that your your ideas on, on your actual revenues and business, but also the good that your campaign, your creative idea can can do to society, and potentially to the world. So I think the example I want to give you here is a Winning Campaign from from last Festival, which was actually was awarded over 20 Awards, I think overall, and it's about you know, like, really, okay, the story goes that you know, if you should not take your baby, I have never been to this to this island, the island of Palau. And also if you have been so far away from where I live in the UK, but basically, it takes on just under 20 hours to fly so it's a long flight to fly from the UK to Micronesia, the micronesian archipelago of Palau so but the good The story goes that you know, when you when you basically when you arrive a DA forced, you know, ready for, you know, to go to the beach, you're imagine your sunglasses on your head, and you're, you're all happy to kind of be land anymore on this maze in paradise as the qualities is beautiful island. So then there is one more thing that the government or the Cylon make you do when you actual, when you actually land to the airport there. And to say this is to to sign a pledge. So the immigration official will will stamp your passport, but you will have to sign a pledge and display just to basically preserve and protect this beautiful and unique Island. And so that's, you know, useful. You read a checklist and you sign your name and your passport. And only after doing that, you will be allowed an entry to the island. And so this part of the island of Palau became the first country in the award to change its immigration laws and processes for the cause of environmental and cultural preservation. So this campaign really created a shared experience for for everybody will visit the archipelago of Palau. And so a community that grows with every you know, person that goes there to to Connolly, they've also to pledge to take care of the silence of this island and this idea, I think it's a brilliant way to have to have a direct conversation with your consumer and in this case with the travelers that go to this island, and to promote responsible behavior. So I think this is Link. You know, this is linked to the toy I was saying before about generating creative ideas that are also, they can also manage to have an impact on the world on society. And in this case, on the environment, both very

Roy Sharples:

novel, changing laws to create the conditions for visitors to sign an agreement before they get permitted into the country, to preserve the cultural and environmental integrity of the country. Creativity is a way of living and improving people's lives, making societies productive, and better places to live, work and play. That's a refreshing change from it typically been metropolises that were perceived as being the spaces for dreaming, making and doing, you know, such as the classical Athens and Renaissance Florence, the French Revolution, and romanticism in Paris, to post war, New York, swinging London in the 60s, to industrial cities with the maker and Dewar ethos, such as Detroit, Manchester, and Glasgow, and also the poor times where this constant and diversity of people and international trade such as Copenhagen, Dublin, Liverpool, and Amsterdam,

Fiorenza Plinio:

many other countries are looking into, you know, doing something similar now, to preserve their, their environment, perhaps, to make to promote responsible tourism.

Roy Sharples:

when you break it right down is it's a pretty sim le idea and concept, but just to come up with it, you know

Fiorenza Plinio:

yes, yes, for my experience, the simplest ideas are always the one that actually generate the greatest impact on people on society, on business, etc.

Roy Sharples:

One of the key skills needed to achieve creative excellence from your experience.

Fiorenza Plinio:

As I was thinking about this, because I get asked this question, quite often, actually, when I, either depending on the job I do, I do get this question quite often. So I think some people believe that creativity is innate, you know, so you have, you either have it, or you either have it, or you don't have it. And, and you can only, you know, if you can, you can use it, if you only if you if you work in, in a creative job basically about having spent the last 10 years or more working for for, for the largest treaty festival in the world can lions, I have come to see creativity a little bit differently. So I think creativity is not a skill at this exclusive to people in traditionally creative profession. But it's not something that you either have or you do not. But I believe their creativity, I look at it like a muscle, they can they can and should be trained. And and and we you know, by do by training this muscle, well, then we are able to apply a creative lens to society. And this is a quick a key success success factor in our careers, because you can use really creativity to innovate in every in every career, really, it doesn't matter the job you do. So creativity can be developed. You know, it's a muscle, I said, it can be developed as any other skill that we have. And yeah, so I think that's, that's the way I see. You know, the reason when you ask me about, you know, how do you how do you alter the skills need to achieve creative accidents, I think, I think I think we all have creativity inside ourselves. So we just need to make sure that we train it, we train this muscle, right, and we, and we and we we embrace creativity, but also we train it. So it can be trained, it can be developed. And I say that because this is what we do also, with with this is also our mission, right what we do with our training programs with our festival as well. So some people come to the festival. They're not from creative backgrounds. So if you think about colognes, right, we do have about 30 something percent of our delegates, they come from brands, they come from client side, so that's marketing people, even people working in tech innovation startups, so they are all looking for inspiration, they all creative in their own way. So companies like

Roy Sharples:

Khan, it can help play that role in building creative confidence and also bringing people from multiple fields and disciplines together to really build, not just inspire but to build confidence that hey, creativity isn't just something that's allocated to artists musicians perform. You know, it's everyone is as creative or has the potential to be creative. They just need to know how our education systems are designed to meet the Bible. On needs of the Industrial Revolution, where recall, is valued over imagination, where the reality is, creativity is a core discipline. And it should be treated just the same as reading, writing and arithmetic. And it should be nurtured not just at the educational level, at a young age, but all the way through someone's life journey that has a focus on academics rather than creativity, with the unspoken understanding that creative pursuits are not productive. But creativity is the essence of humanity. It's not an insult. It's not incidental, but distinctively human. It's what uniquely differentiates us. And now that we're moving into the age of creativity, I think our creative potential, as humans is going to get truly unlocked and realized,

Fiorenza Plinio:

it's cutting everywhere in Europe, I think, when you when you're in high school, and I think just before you go to university, I don't think creativity is a skill that you can, I mean, obviously, there are classes where you can take, you know, this art, and they teach you how to draw, but this is not the only way of being creative. So I think, as I said, Before, I approach creativity from a very different point of like, from a different we have we are different mindsets when I was a journalist, and I think that also, you know, creative writing is something that we, we don't do enough, but obviously, it's cool. And before we get twice as done, you know, we before obviously, we go to university, and then it's when you choose your path, potentially. But I think you're right, you know, people should be nurtured. creativity can be nurtured. And, and especially kids and, you know, before you actually get into a creative profession, if about or any other professional, really, I think we need to go back to, you know, to what creativity also how creativity can be nurtured. When when we ask for basically, right,

Roy Sharples:

so you're in a time machine now. And it's going backward, based on your lessons learned to date, in terms of the pitfalls to avoid and the keys to success? What would you What would you say to a younger forenza and that would be relevant to aspiring creatives?

Fiorenza Plinio:

Yeah, I am. That's a good question. So I think when I think the first thing I would tell myself or or any other, you know, person going to kind of working communication media, creative industries whatsoever, I would definitely say, summit I actually didn't do soon enough, perhaps when I started working in including working in general, actually, is to to get to get mentorship, and to get advocacy, especially especially in the creative industry. The reason I think that some progress faster than others, is often because advocacy and mentorship are easily accessible to some people more than others, right? So say that mentors are not, are not that to give your the answer, obviously, I am, I don't think so. But what they are, therefore, they're that to a lock to a lock what you already know, and help you work out what you really want. So I think the first thing I would encourage people that are approaching this industry for the first time, is to get mentorship. And also another thing that I think is important in this industry, if you are a young professional, is to build your profile, to build your network to build your portfolio. So you know, it's important because, you know, you come across some, some young creatives that they don't really have, they might have a portfolio, so to speak, but they haven't really took the time to build a profile to actually network, the torquing is is important, I think part of us have in the process of getting the right job right. So though it Also don't forget, I think I will tell myself I will tell young professional as well, not to forget that we are We live in an increasingly fast moving world. So it's important I think that we carve our niche, I think carving out your niche well what that means is to is that you so you don't want to have to break into the industry by you. You put you want to reinvent the industry so you can you can own your your niche, you know, I mean so like it's important to have your niche especially now with you know, there is so much happening and and it's important to to carve, I would say your own your own niche. So get mentorship, I think build your profile and your network. And, and yeah, and so carve your own your own little niche.

Roy Sharples:

What is your vision for the future of creativity

Fiorenza Plinio:

when I think about Working where I work, you know, the largest festival of creativity, that there is really and we what we do, we have what I call an helicopter view of the creative and marketing industry. So that allow us to really understand a little bit more perhaps than other companies and and, and, and indeed, three people like where the industry is heading, what's happened, or what's gonna happen next five to 10 years, right? I think we are not the horror call, of course, but we can definitely talk a little bit around that. I think, when I when I think about creativity in 10 years from now, or even just five years from now, I think about the relationship between creativity and technology. First of all, because you know, It is no secret that technology is replacing some human jobs. In some cases, our computer is able to do things that humans used to do in in the recent past, really. So an example if you think about knowledge, retention or calculation, a computer is much better at calculating numbers. And and many academic institutions have large computing resources that crunch numbers that produce insights, and you know, so the growing influence of, of machine learning of artificial intelligence, programmatic media buying, all these have changed the way marketers perform their jobs. And they have changed the way creativity is the role of creativity in toward this. So. So what why think the relationship between technology and creativity, so because technology is only going to advance, the question really is what will be the most coveted skill of the future. And in my opinion, it will be still creativity, because ultimately, our computer lacks imagination, or creativity to paint a vision for the future. The computer, if you think about the lack of emotional competence, you know, and you're human, we do have emotional competence. So creativity, I believe is about things that you can use that you have never taught before, perhaps and also, problem solving, yes, but also making connections that have never been made. So why some systems can bring a bit of that to the table. But most system computer system don't do that. So they base they basically automate what, what is already known. So technology and data are tools and should be ultimately be used to free up the industry to unleash creativity, and not getting its way really, so we need to recognize to recognize that this new era of creativity demands that people and artificial intelligence and computer science should combine their skills to deliver the best results. So that's I think that is very important is a huge topic, I could talk about that for hours. But we don't have that time. But what I'm saying is that, you know, if you think about creativity in five years, to Tao future, the future in the not even distant future in the near future, we need we really need to think carefully about the, the relationship between creativity, human creativity, and and technology. So that's that's one point. And I think the second point is the emerging, really an emerging trend, but it's been there for a while now. And and will be there for a long Why is his creative work is driven now by porpoise like never before. If you think about what's happening in our society now, the the COVID-19 pandemic, but also, you know, the, you know, the, the, like, societal, racial, gender, the sort of issues that we have in you know, are affecting, like everything we do, including creative processes. So, they fundamentally all these as made many companies reimagine the way they communicate, reimagine the way they create campaigns, for instance. So the kitty community, as well as the world's leading brands have taken up this challenge. So building create creative campaigns, that have a new narrative and this narrative needs to include, it needs to include generic qualities need to include climate change need to include animal welfare, environmental causes, we cannot, you know, just do creativity that is Tom that you know, these days, so Brandon creatives can elevate this, this, this best practice, but really, and and adopt solution and inspire others to follow to follow this kind of solution. So as well as LPG charities and nonprofit organization to tell their story better. Right? Right. So, so we as an industry, we need to really stand up and I think decorative indices doing a good job now, especially in the latest year or so, with, with all the, you know, the what's happening in our society and thinking about everything from politics to environmental causes to this pandemic, that is still affecting everything we do. So I think we, we are really standing up there building incredible campaigns that have this new narrative in our new narrative that include this dis dis issues, and not just, you know, not just like, creativity, for creativity, but also creativity that is impacting impacting society, really, and this is probably gonna see more and more of that, I think in the near future. Definitely. And, and also, if you think about also, you know, the way we are collaborating, alliance with the United Nation on the sustainable development, development goals, these are 17 goals, which are basically the plan of action goals that need to be achieved by 2030. And they and they are designed to protect our future the future of humanity across the economy, society and environment. So we have created an award competition, which is based on solving the issues that are related to environment, economy and society. So we are working really closely with the United Nations to make sure that you know, even our festival our awards, they reflect this kind of where societies is now and where we are heading and we're not tone deaf tu tu, tu tu tu tu these changes that are happening really rapidly and in in our in our award in our society.

Roy Sharples:

For more inspirational conversations with creative industry personalities on entrepreneurship, pop culture, art, music, film and fashion. Please go to unknown origins.com