Cannes Lions Festival 2013.
I’ve captured a front-row seat at Speakers’ Corner, next to a young woman who must be in her 20s. The space quickly fills up with journalists who start setting up their recording equipment, while photographers angle for the best spot from which to shoot that winning photograph.
“Is that really what you’re working with?” the young woman asks, pointing at my Canon PowerShot. “It looks very small.”
“That,” I reply, “is a G1X! It’s small in size, but huge in performance. It’s been all over the world with me and I love it!”
I peek at the young woman’s badge to see where she’s from.
“My name is Milena,” she says before I can read the badge. “I’m from São Paulo, Brazil. I’m reporting on the Cannes Lions Festival for my university, ESPM. Do you know it?”
“No,” I lie, “never heard of it.”
That will teach you to be disrespectful about my camera, I think to myself.
“What are you going to write about Lou Reed?” I ask, pointing at the empty stage.
“About who?” Milena asks.
“Lou Reed!” I say. “The man who’s going to talk to us in a few minutes.”
“I don’t know,” she answers, “from which brand is he?”
“He’s not from a brand,” I say, “he is a brand! A musician, a songwriter… a rock icon! You know, ‘Perfect day’, ‘Walk on the wild side’? He was even part of the scene surrounding Andy Warhol.”
“Oh, I had no idea,” says Milena, “when was this?”
“He started with the Velvet Underground in the 1960s,” I say, “and his solo album Transformer came out somewhere in the 1970s. Maybe 1972.”
“I see,” she says. “Well I was born in 1990.”
At that point a door to the left of the stage opens and Lou Reed comes walking on, followed by two man. He walks straight to the chairs with the microphone and sits down. The room is echoes with the sound of shutters clicking and camera flashes.
“This feels strange,” Reed starts, “it feels like I’m in the enemy camp. Advertising has always been the polar opposite of rock and poetry. And here I am, at an advertising festival in Cannes. And I don’t like journalists either!”
Ok so the tone is set, I think to myself. He’s still a rebel…
“But I’ve also always believed that I have something important to say,” he continues “and I said it.”
“Aha,” I think to myself, “a classic Reed quote.”
“And journalists are a perfect medium for me to transmit my message.”
I raise my hand. “Lou, I’m actually not a journalist, I’m a storyteller. Would you say your song writing is a form of storytelling?”
“Right on!” says Lou pointing at me. “What I do is 100% storytelling. The only difference is that I only tell stories about myself. I’m an artist and that means I can be as egotistical as I want.”
Milena raises her hand. “Mr. Reed, can you tell us something about your association with Andy Warhol and what message you have for the young generation?”
Lou Reed looks at Milena for a few seconds before answering.
“First of all, it’s nice to see that young people like yourself know so much about my work.
Secondly… Andy was like a mentor to me. I learned a lot from him. He showed me different ways of looking at life.
The message I have for your generation: to really understand life, you should take a walk on the wild side!”
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Tags: Cannes Lions, Lou Reed, CoolBrands, Around the World in 80 Brands, Around the World, Storytelling expedition, Storytelling, expedition, Lou, Reed, Lions, Cannes