What a Canuck judge is expecting at Cannes

Just before the 54th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival got underway yesterday, MiC spoke with Chris Staples, who's on the Press & Poster panel. And through the week, we'll bring you impressions from others in the Canadian contingent - not to mention all the big prize news as it happens.

What’s it like to be on a jury at the Cannes Lions? Chris Staples, CD at Vancouver’s Rethink, did it once before – in 1999, when he judged Film entries. This time around, he’s on the Press & Poster category (which, in Canadianese, translates to print and outdoor).

‘It’s funny how being a judge in Cannes actually replicates what it’s like to be a consumer,’ Staples muses. ‘In an average day, he or she sees 3,000 ads and, at the end of the day, only one or two stick. And that’s pretty much what being a judge in Cannes is like.’

What are Staples’ thoughts about his category? ‘Press & Poster has been somewhat of a neglected child for the past few years,’ he explains. ‘Obviously, the big news in advertising recently has been the emergence of the Internet as a real force in marketing. That meant (print and outdoor) hasn’t got a lot of attention. Certainly, if you think about the stand-out pieces from Cannes in any given year recently, Press & Poster wouldn’t make the list.

‘But what’s happening with the Internet and television is that, as mass media, they’re splintering into a thousand little points. So people are starting to understand that outdoor is actually one of the last true mass mediums. And that means there’s a chance to do really good work.

‘I’ve been seeing more and more examples recently of great stunt outdoor and great interactive print – interesting things that take old media and use them in new ways. A good example of bringing new life to an old medium was a billboard for Adidas. They actually had soccer players on ropes playing a game on the board.’

Staples says that, more and more, technological breakthroughs are enabling innovation and interactivity. ‘There are lots of examples, such as solar-powered outdoor boards. And then there’s what’s happening in resto-bar posters, where there’s video, motion sensors that detect when you walk in, sound chips.

‘In print, we’re seeing interactive things like pull-offs, scratch & sniff elements, all sorts of things. The technology has advanced so that it’s easy to use inserts, and we’re seeing all kinds of things that are bringing interactivity into older mediums. So that’s what I think will be rewarded this year in Cannes in Press & Poster.’

How is Canada likely to stack up against the rest of the world? ‘We tend to do well in outdoor categories,’ says Staples. ‘Toronto is one of the best outdoor cities in the world. There’s just a lot of great stock there and a great willingness to try new things.

‘But we tend to be at a bit of a disadvantage in magazines and newspapers, mainly because we have just a handful of Canadian-grown magazines. And that means we don’t get as many chances at bat. But we’ll just have to see.’