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Love The Work More: Challenging Cannes Lions With Love

Two young Vietnamese with the idea that delighted the creative industry, but baffled the organizers of Cannes Lions.

Love The Work More: Challenging Cannes Lions With Love

Toan Mai and Quynh Tran are the two creatives behind a unique idea called Love The Work More. | Photo Design: Minh Hong for Vietcetera

To many young people, the fee for viewing winning creative ideas at Cannes Lions — the most prestigious award in the advertising industry — is quite steep (about $2,000). To address this “problem”, Quynh Tran and Toan Mai — two young “insiders” of the creative industry decided to spend three days collecting all these ideas into their own website.

As a result, with Love The Work More, people from over 140 countries have had the opportunity to admire the world’s best creative projects, completely free of charge. Quynh and Toan, in a short time, became known and complimented by the whole advertising industry.

Love The Work More was featured on AdWeek.

Quynh, 20 years old, is about to officially become a junior copywriter at INNOCEAN Berlin. She used to intern at many domestic and international advertising agencies, such as Dinosaur Vietnam, BETC Paris, or Publicis Italy.

Four years older than Quynh, Toan is a former copywriter intern at Leo Burnett Vietnam, and also has experienced working at six other agencies around the world — Ogilvy Tokyo, LOLA Madrid, Gray New York, David Madrid, And_Us Dubai, Memac Ogilvy Dubai. He will soon take up the position of junior copywriter at Ogilvy Singapore.

These two young people from Ho Chi Minh City are the owners of Love The Work More, which has stirred up the global advertising industry in recent days. To find out how and why they did it, Vietcetera interviewed these two young creators and got their insights.

What drove you to create Love The Work More?

First, we wondered why the Cannes Lions took place but we didn’t hear anything about it in Vietnam, why was it so quiet. Probably because of the fees charged at Cannes’ Love The Work website, so not many people got the chance to see the winning ideas.

So we came up with this question: “Why don’t we help people see them?”. Walking the talk, we aggregated all campaigns with Grand Prix/Titanium/Gold/Silver/Bronze titles into one Google Docs file, and shared it with our friends in Vietnam.

Receiving everyone’s support for this idea, we then asked ourselves, why don’t we create a website to build a more spacious “house” for these 450 creative ideas?

Why is the website called Love The Work More?

Quynh: My former boss once joked that this advertising award should change their website’s name from “Love The Work” to “Love The Money”, because everything costs money! Cannes charges everything from the submission fee to join the competition, then the fee to attend the festival, and now the fee to see the winning ideas.

Remembering that, I suddenly came up with the name “Love The Work More”, as a word-play from Cannes’ “Love The Work”.

After graduating from high school, Quynh Tran took a gap year. She then went to study advertising at Miami Ad School.

To collect that many ideas, did you face a lot of difficulties?

One interesting fact is that these ideas are all available to see online. It’s just that if you don’t pay the Cannes fee, you don’t know which one won. So after watching Cannes this year together to see what happened, we just have to spend time summarizing the results and designing the web (in an hour and a half).

And then we have to be a bit thick-skinned.

What motivates you to spend so much effort on this project?

We think that if people could see the best creative projects in the world, they would be inspired to come up with better ideas, both for themselves and for the advertising industry.

And actually, we don’t just do it for advertising industry people. For those who don’t work in the industry, or young people who want to learn and later work in advertising, they can also view these projects to see how beautiful the industry is.

Young creative Toan Mai has a burning passion for advertising and is always full of energy.

After all, those 450 extremely creative winning projects are the most crucial motivation that makes us and so many people love and want to enter the advertising field.

The last reason is that while studying at Miami Ad School, we tried to find creative ideas of Vietnamese people that were recognized globally by the advertising industry, but couldn’t. So we both decided to be the first one, to show the world — especially Vietnamese, that we, too, can come up with exceptional ideas — and be internationally recognized.

When do you know you’ve “won” with this idea?

It’s when the CEO of Cannes called my current agency to ask for my contact information but couldn’t get it, so he found my LinkedIn and contacted me directly there.

At that time, we knew that we both woke the “lion” up.

Because not only young people in the industry, but the forerunners, the CDs/ECDs/CCOs of the world’s biggest advertising agencies are also now talking about Love The Work More.

Before, when interning at Publicis Italy, no one knew who I was. Now with Love The Work More, the whole agency has recognized me.

And as for Toan, every agency in Dubai knew him already!

After establishing the website, two young creatives received a “storm” of compliments...
... from the world’s most famous advertisers.

In your opinion, why is Love The Work More so “empathetic”?

Perhaps because both of us are insiders, we understand so well which problems young advertising creatives are facing. As stated in the homepage of Love The Work More, we don’t have much money, but we have overflowing love for “the works”.

Toan and Quynh’s manifesto about Love The Work More.

Inspirational ideas often come from the creator’s own personal problems. If you look at our portfolio, you will see that most of the ideas come from each of our “pain points”.

What did the Cannes Lions organizers say when contacting both of you?

Well, first of all, they complimented us. Then they went straight to the point, alarming us that they could get a lawyer to deal with this situation, and could sue us if we refuse to take down this website. Also, as far as we know, for a week since this website came up, the atmosphere within Cannes’ team was a bit … chaotic.

But we weren’t afraid, either. We also talked to the CCO of our current agency and was backed by our own legal team. So in the end, we decided to keep the website, and even made an agreement with Cannes that they would give permission to people under the age of 30 to see the winning ideas for free! (Shh, this is only known to Vietcetera readers, we haven’t announced it yet!)

Thanks to this idea, Toan and Quynh had to work, handle the media crisis, and negotiate legal issues at the same time.

So we’ve decided, now even if Cannes wants to sue us and send us to jail, we are fine with it.

Which of these Cannes winning ideas do you guys like best?

Toan: Might Be Coming Soon, showing how people dislike “big corporates”.

Quynh: The HY Project, it’s a very futuristic idea.

What big lessons have you guys learned from pursuing an advertising career abroad?

Toan: For me, that is getting out of my comfort zone. From a copy-based kid (specializing in writing), I learned more about art, graphic design, and found out more about outstanding people in many different fields, not just copywriting.

When we live in discomfort, we can ask more questions and observe more issues happening in life. As advertising often targets different audiences in society, I also learned how to go out and talk to people around me, to better understand the stories of other communities.

Thanks to the project’s popularity, INNOCEAN Berlin - where Quynh is working - added “Vietnamese” to the “People of INNOCEAN” list.

Quynh: For me, working abroad brings me a huge advantage of being an outsider. For example, in Germany, I mostly worked with the locals, so everyone had a very German way of thinking. Meanwhile, as an outsider, I thought differently, therefore I could come up with more special ideas. In this industry, for an idea to be good, first it must be odd.

We also observe that nowadays, the creative industry needs more universal ideas, such as one conceptualized in Europe but Asians still understand. And people also prefer shorter, concise, and straight-to-the-point ideas.

Many people say that it’s easy to be bored when working in advertising. But that didn’t happen to us both. If you work with proficient people, in an environment where there are so many new things to learn, you will never get bored.

Luke Sullivan, author of the book ‘Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This’ - “Bible” of Advertising, also praised Love The Work More.

Follow Toan Mai at: Facebook | Instagram | Website

Follow Quynh Tran at: Facebook | Instagram Website

Adapted by Thao Van