Creatives vs Coders: The Tech Off!

Creatives vs Coders: The Tech Off!

The biggest of big deals in the creative advertising world is the annual Cannes Lions. Known as the Oscars Of Advertising, the 2015 speakers included Pharrell, Al Gore and Britain’s favourite brain-box, Brian Cox.

Enjoy The Festival

This year was the first ever Lions Innovation Festival, an event within the event focused on Data, Tech and Ideas (all things that are close to our heart).

Cannes Beach

So it seemed fitting to host an epic battle: Creatives vs Coders! Luckily the organisers agreed it would be good to host a giant scrap on the schedule, so we were duly allocated the closing slot on the aptly-named Experience Stage.

And what an experience we had! At stake was no less than the future of creative innovation itself. Featuring foam fingers, smack talk and a Wild Card speaker, this was a fight which will be etched in legend…YOUR MOMMA CAN’T CODE!

Your momma cant code

And it seems as if the Cannes Lions Innovation crowd could anticipate the event’s gravity. We attracted the biggest audience of the week to the Experience Stage, double the average!

The Tech Off Champions Belt

For a full set of photos click here.

As MC Dan “Python” Kirby held the belt aloft, he demanded the crowd part for its entrance…BUT WHO WOULD WIN THE BELT OF TECH?

We had four heavyweight contenders:

Gemma Milne

Gemma “Cruncher” Milne

You’ve heard of Mad Men, but Gemma is one of a new generation – a Math Woman – working in advertising. A creative lab technologist working at Ogilvy Labs in London, Gemma took us on a personal tour of the wonder she feels with mathematics.

Using Euler’s Identity – considered an example of mathematical beauty (according to Wikipedia!) she showed how the world around us can be explained, but people shut themselves off – saying “I don’t do maths”. The same applies to tech.

In a line which would reverberate around the Twittersphere, she argued that “we close our minds before we let them be blown”.


The Tech Off crowd

Malcolm “Mad Professor” Garrett

A legendary graphic designer and pioneer of interactive media, Malcolm is a prize fighter indeed. With a passionate and expansive argument for the centrality of creativity to technology, he argued that creative vision will act as beacons for our collective – technological – future.

We think however that some coders hacked his presentation as there was a technical glitch midway through…


Sara Gozalo

Sara “El Diablo” Gozalo

Her blood boiling after the Mad Professor’s description of code as “Lego”, Sara hit back with a forceful argument for the primacy of the creative coder.

As an Innovation Lead and Software Engineer at BBC Music, Sara is leading efforts to get the technologists leading the development of new products and services.

She does this through Hackathons both within the BBC, but also across London’s music tech scene. She argued that code – like language – is a tool, which we can use to create beauty.


The Tech Off Wildcard

At this stage of the proceedings, we went into uncharted territory – with the selection of a Wild Card speaker. We had invited the audience to put themselves forward, and collated them into the Boxing Glove Of Destiny.

Randomly selecting a speaker, we welcomed Ashish Thukral onto the stage – bravely entering the arena with no preparation and no slides….was he a lamb to the slaughter, or David approaching Goliath?

Ashish our Wildcard speaker

Ashish spoke eloquently about the ‘golden ratio’ in nature and art – and how it appears time and time again – from the Mona Lisa to flower petals. Taking this insight into our innate appreciation of this phenomenon, he explained how his team are taking this principle and applying to retail solutions and apps. Through this they aim to increase the effectiveness of retail marketing activity.


With all the talks over it was time to select the winner. Using a new improved voting system – a web app Techometer – we challenged the crowd to pick a winner, a thankless task with such great speakers in front of them.

But by employing science, mathematics, physics and raw persuasive power – the Techometer recorded a winner – announced live from the web with a literal explosion: GEMMA MILNE!

Taking the stage to hold the Belt Of Tech aloft – Gemma was a worthy winner.

Winner Gemma Milne

Closing proceedings, MC Python (aka Techdept CEO Dan Kirby) argued that the people that owned the future were the collaborators – those that could link art & science, marketing & technology, creative & coders.

Collaboration wins the future

He said that without that openness to new ideas, we would struggle to cope with the pace of change we see today – and that it was the people in the room that should lead that change!


And with that we bid Lions Innovation goodbye, walking into the setting sun of the South of France, foam fingers held high!

Creatives vs Coders The Tech Off

The Tech Off at Cannes Lions

“Au Revoir” Cannes!

For a full set of photos click here.

Find this interesting?