Zelenskyy calls on creatives to join the fight for freedom


Oleg Tomin sitting on the Cannes stage addressing the audience
Oleg Tomin

Oleg Tomin, creative director/director of advertising agency Bart&Fink, recently had the word “give” etched on his skin. It was his first-ever tattoo.

For the Ukrainian creative, the word is also a call to action for the global creative community to give whatever it can to help war-torn Ukraine retaliate against the Russian invasion that stunned the world in February.

Tomin was speaking during yesterday’s Creativity Under Bombs panel session, where he was joined by other Ukrainian creatives from the worlds of music, marketing and media, as well as by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who sent an exclusive video message.


Zelenskyy said he could not think of a better place from which to send that message than the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where the global creative community normally gathers to exchange ideas on how brands can better reach consumers. Ukraine’s fight for global democracy requires creatives to urge the world to give their time, he said.


President Zelenskyy speaking via video on the big screen of the Cannes Lions auditorium
President Zelenskyy's video message

“The end of this war depends on the world’s attention”

Zelenskyy’s appeal to the international creative community to use their skills to help Ukraine fight for its freedom resonated with Tomin, whose family’s life has been destroyed by Russian bombs. And having been deeply moved by his neighbours sharing what little they had with his family, he said it was that “brilliant act of giving” that prompted him to acquire his first-ever tattoo.


Close up of Pasha Vrzheshch on stage
Pasha Vrzheshch

Despite having no media budget, co-panelist Pasha Vrzheshch, co-owner and creative director of Kyiv-based Cannes Lions winner Banda Agency, said his company recently asked the international media community to give free space for the ‘Be Brave Like Ukraine’ campaign it created for Zelenskyy’s government. The campaign is already yielding results, having appeared on a variety of major platforms, including New York City’s Times Square. Vrzheshch urged Lions’ delegates to help maintain that momentum.

Another panel speaker was singer-songwriter Jamala — real name is Susana Dzamaladinova — who won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ukraine in 2016. She appealed to artists to give their voice in protest.

“I ask artists not to be silent,” she said.