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Cannes Lion reflections: McCann Health and 'Fighting for your creative life'

Cannes Lions seminars, snack-sized!

created on Saturday 17 Jun 2017

"Sometimes the biggest doubters are ourselves"
Mike Massimino

Lions Health kicked off to a packed room over at the Inspiration Stage in the form of a session called ‘Fighting for Your Creative Life’ hosted by global chief creative officer for McCann Health, Jeremy Perrott. We were introduced to two dynamic and mould-breaking creative artists by the name of Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut, and Jonty Toosey, a commercial director, to tell us how they worked within the constraints of their industries and fought for their own personal creative lives to bring their childhood dreams to real life accomplishments.

Massimino told his story of fighting to become an astronaut, something he had dreamed of since being a child. After 4 rejection letters from NASA, Massimino finally made it into space. “To complete repairs to the Hubble and keep it going while improving its technology, those were my missions,” he explained, adding that even though it had taken years to get there, he was still expecting someone to knock on the helmet and tell him they’d got it wrong: “we are going to send someone else instead, Mike”

As the audience giggled, Massimino explained this was because as he was growing up, he thought probability of becoming a space man was very unlikely. “There was always the voice in the back of my mind saying ‘that will never happen’,” he said. “But sometimes the biggest doubters are ourselves. It might be nearly impossible but it’s not.”

“The age of misinformation should be called age of ill-information. The system is us."
Jonty Toosey
Next on stage is Toosey, who jumps up to the mic with boundless energy, opens his mouth and spills out the words: “Hello, I’m a liar… I lie for a living.”

He elaborates that these are only white lies, mind, and aren’t malicious but “in the era of post truth, I find myself in the heart of this information epidemic where I stage and manipulate reality”. As a commercial director, he explains it’s the industry that makes him do it, like many do; a caving to make our content engaging and for an audience that has a very short attention span. 

“If you see a car crash you have to stop and look, and the internet is interpreting this behaviour and it’s constantly delivering these car crashes to us,” he says, with the audience hooked on every word. “Taking the current internet mechanism and mixing in the badness that’s been fed into it makes a really nasty cocktail.”

Toosey continued that big internet companies are currently trying to deal with this toxicity by regulating. 

“We don’t want to see jihadists beheading people or child pornography, so the government has decided they would punish these big companies if they don’t remove it from their platforms. But that’s scary as it means the end of democracy and the internet as we know it – who becomes the arbitrator of truth?”

According to Toosey, it’s us who have an ethical responsibility to use truth. We have to be the agitators of the truth and if we don’t we are going back into the dark ages and will lose the internet as we know it.
The age of misinformation should be called age of ill-information. The system is us. To get noticed in the tsunami of information, we must research new ways of making people share and give content and also make it fun,” he said. 

“So that’s what I try make things fun this is what I do. Challenge reality and make that happen in a concise period of time.”

Fighting, and winning
Mike Massimino and Jonty Toosey have very different stories but one thing in common: they are creative artists who have followed their lifelong passions to succeed in highly competitive industries to make their dreams a reality. Their talks, which kept a packed room engaged for a full hour during the opening seminar at Lions Health today, not only shed light on how they achieved childhood desires, but offered an insight into how we must challenge our realities and be the “agitators of truth” in order to find success in a competitive landscape, especially the creative industry. 

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