Behind-the-scenes report from a Cannes Lions judge
Where else, she wonders, could you possibly get a truly global perspective on all media, including the most up-to-date primer on the penetration of new media?
What an experience! It started with the opening-night dinner, where – after an animated and open discussion involving jurors from around the globe, including Russia, the UK, New Zealand, Brazil and Spain – we realized how similar the issues are, wherever you work.
Carat North America CEO and jury president David Verklin set the tone for our five days of judging by arguing that we should be looking for three things. The first is strategy. Can you see it? The second is results. Are there tangible results that deliver on the objective(s) of the campaign? And the third is inspiration. Does the work inspire us? Will it inspire our clients? And, most importantly, will it inspire the next generation of media people?
With these marching orders, we set off in five groups of five to review all the cases submitted. Each submission was supported with a written case and presentation board, and most had a video presentation as well. We graded them on a scale of one to nine. Anything from one to three did not make the short list. Four to six was a maybe, and seven to nine was a definite short-list survivor.
Each submission was graded in four categories: innovative media strategy, creative execution, target audience and effectiveness. After three days, we made it through all the entries and – based on our scoring system – we had a short list of about 10% of the entries.
The next day, we broke into two groups and reviewed half of the work in the morning and the balance in the afternoon, again scoring each entry on a scale of one to nine. At the end of the day, each juror was allowed to present one case that hadn’t made it to the short list. If two-thirds of the group agreed, it was added to the short list (but a juror could not present a case from their own company). After this appeal process, a few more entries were added to the list.
On the fifth and final day, we came together as one group and reviewed all the short-listed entries by category, with their scores from the previous day to guide us. Category by category, we discussed the entries and voted. A two-thirds majority was required to award a Bronze, Silver or Gold Lion, with the stipulation that once a Lion was awarded, it could not be taken away, but could be upgraded to a higher status.
At the end of the day, we had a list of all 10 Lions and we voted once again on the Grand Prix. Three entries stood out. ‘Love of Writing’ for Mont Blanc Fountain Pens in South Africa was a very simple idea in newspaper with a page of hand-written editorial. From Canada, ‘Get Scared More Often’ from zig for the Corus Scream TV channel – with a holographic ghost that created a huge sensation online – won a Gold and a Silver Lion. ‘Money Goes Digital,’ for the launch of a new digital money transfer service from ASB BANK in New Zealand – which included digitized stickers on actual bank currency – won a Gold and two Bronze Lions as well as the Grand Prix.
After surviving five days of global media immersion, I came away with five overall observations:
1. Media creativity is not confined to any one country. It is definitely global, with the 10 Lions coming from countries ranging from Japan to Argentina.
2. Big budgets do not automatically translate into creativity. In fact, it seems the opposite is true. So if necessity is the mother of invention, it seems small budgets are the mother of innovation.
3. Digital is not coming – it is here. Most cases either had a digital component or traditional media was amplified with online attention. One thing I was glad to see is that Canada is not too far behind counties like Japan in our use of technology in media.
4. There continues to be difficulty distinguishing the creative idea from the media idea, which I think is a good sign that true integration is occurring.
5. Results are still paramount. Where results were not seen, the entry did not move forward.
My final comment after seeing the best work in the world is this: Canada certainly competes at the highest level, and we should be celebrating this fact by entering more of our work and showing the world how good we really are.
Cathy Collier is SVP/media director at Cossette Media in Toronto.