Finding Out What It Takes to be a Young Lion

It was not all glitz and glamour for a group of WKWSCI students at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year.

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In June this year, 10 students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information got to hobnob with the world’s top creative talents at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – all part of a module designed to stretch students’ creative capabilities and expose them to world-class ideas.

Held in the French seaside city of Cannes, the annual festival is a star-studded event that sees the world’s best creative teams, known as Young Lions, compete across different categories such as design, film and public relations. The competition is fierce as every Young Lion team had come out tops in the preliminary rounds held in their country.

The eight-day event was also lined with talks and networking events helmed by industry leaders.

“This is where the best talent meet and share the most creative work,” said WKWSCI lecturer Wong Pei Wen, the module coordinator. “It’s a festival where you learn and get really inspired, and see the (latest) trends in technology, innovation as well as advertising and public relations.”

“This is a festival where the best talent meet and share the most creative work.”


YouTube celebrity and actress Lilly Singh, actor David Schwimmer and representatives from Google and Facebook were some notable names at the festival.

But it was not all red carpet events and beach parties for the students who attended the festival this year. As a team, the students had 24 hours to work on the same creative brief that the Young Lions were given.

This was to simulate the exact competition experience and challenge the students further, said Wong. Last year’s batch of students had 48 hours to complete the brief.

Wong added that the briefs are often based on “real-world problems where creative solutions are needed.” This year, the teams were tasked to develop a job recruitment campaign for the less-abled.

“It wasn’t easy. It was very stressful trying to execute the brief, especially with the tight deadline and all the pressure,” said Muhammad Syafiq (CS’19). “But (the experience) ended up teaching me how to remain calm and give my hundred percent, even under pressure.”

The students’ work were subsequently reviewed by several industry professionals at the festival, including TBWA President Asia Tuomas Peltoniemi and Singapore director Ara Hampartsoumian. The students also had the chance to pitch informally to festival judges such as executive creative director Daniel Kee from MullenLowe.

Nicolette Koh (CS’19) appreciated the judging sessions as she could gain fresh insights from their critique. A piece of advice she took home was to “remain immersed in learning and take cues from both old and new ideas.”

The students also got to hear from some of the world’s leading creatives at the festival’s line up of talks. Apple’s Senior Vice President of retail Angela Ahrendts and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki were some of the distinguished speakers at the event.

“It was a special experience to see and listen to people you usually see on the news,” said Syafiq. “It was an eye-opening experience for me.”

His coursemate Xu Qi Yang (CS’19) shared similar sentiments.

“It was a privilege to talk to people from so many different backgrounds. It was the little connections I had with people that made it (the festival) fruitful and memorable,” said Xu.

There are plans to give future students more opportunities to apply what they learn from the festival to their everyday work, said Wong.

“We will continue the spirit of partnership with the industry and help students build a strong portfolio that demonstrates their understanding of technology and creative trends.”