Is Cannes Chimera a challenge that can change the world?


The Cannes International Festival of
has announced a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates
that is unprecedented and transformative. It brings together two
of the most powerful leaders in their respective fields, the private sector
comprised of brands, advertising agencies and PR firms for the former, and the
foundation, non-profit and NGO space for the latter. The Cannes International Festival
of Creativity is the benchmark for creativity by which global marketing is
measured, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has achieved
unprecedented strides in addressing global development, global health and domestic
social issues. As such, both shape the thinking and behavior of their entire
industries, and that why this partnership is so important.

The Cannes Chimera challenge is simple.
As an extension of the Foundation’s Great
Challenges for Communications initiative
, Cannes Chimera is an open challenge
to answer a one sentence brief in two pages – how
aid on the ground makes a difference
. The ten finalists will receive a
$100,000 grant from the Foundation and the support of what can only be described
as a dream team of creative minds from the winners at the Festival. The finalists
can then apply for a
further $1,000,000 grant to make that idea a reality.

This partnership has the potential to
transform both industries by raising the profile of social impact work among
the world’s leading brands, ad agencies and PR firms at the Festival, and by serving
as a powerful demonstration of the importance of effective storytelling and
marketing to the non-profit world. Taken together, Cannes Chimera also
represents a high profile demonstration of the growing collaboration between for
profit and non-profit organizations in order to drive social change through
powerful communication, cross–sector collaborations, and concrete action on the


In essence, Cannes Chimera is the very solution we need to meet
the scale of the social crises we currently face with equal force. As for
profit companies and their marketers become more purposeful, and Foundations,
non-profit, and NGOs become better marketers, the opportunity to shape a future
that improves the lives of all becomes more real.

As such, there is an onus on all of us to support this competition and encourage those with
creative answers to this brief to enter the competition and receive the support
they deserve. In doing so, each of us will benefit as we re-shape the
conversation between the private and non-profit sectors, opening the way to compelling
and sustainable solutions that meet today’s most pressing social challenges.



About the author

Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, the leading social branding firm that provides consulting and training to help companies use social media to build their brand reputation, profits and social impact. Simon is a member of the Sustainable Brands Advisory Board, the Advisory Board of the Center for Public Diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School, the Transformational Leadership Council and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London