Six days. A dark room with no windows. One giant screen. Ten jurors from around the world. Ten little black bags for us to keep our phones in.
This year was my first time judging at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and here’s what I learned from my experience.
We had jurors representing Colombia, Canada, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Japan, the U.S. and Singapore. Our jury was made up of four women and six men. The diverse nature of our jury allowed for different perspectives and cultural context on the work. I applaud Cannes for their continued effort to diversify the jury rooms because ensuring that the best and most diverse work gets awarded means having the best and most diverse group of people judging that work.
I’ve always known that it’s hard to win a Lion. Lions are sought after and valued, and I was of the opinion that only the best of the best work converts from the shortlist into a bronze, silver, gold or Grand Prix. After being a jury member, however, I have a new appreciation for just how hard it is to win. The work that’s awarded isn’t the best of the best: It’s literally the greatest, holy-shit-incredible kind of work that crosses cultural boundaries and makes everyone in the room nod their heads and say, “Wow.”
Seriously. We looked at over 800 case studies. We shortlisted 100 pieces of work. And we ultimately gave medals to just 42 pieces.
Great case studies are just as hard to make as a Lion is to win. Here’s my advice for creatives out there trying to scratch out a case study: Make it simple, clear and concise. Ensure your narrative sets up a problem, and then tell your audience why the piece of work or innovation, project or product solved that problem. Also, the shorter the better.
Jury president Ari Weiss said it best: “Mobile today is everything. The portal by which we live our lives.” We saw a range of work, all defining (or redefining) the category, which, in my opinion, is the hardest to pin down. Mobile is so many things, and it happens in so many places. It made for a wide well of awesome creativity to choose from.
Something I found really surprising was how passionate I became about other people’s work. Some pieces connect with certain people, and some won’t (reason #9347 why diverse jury rooms are key). You can fall in love with a piece of work because it’s good, smart, changes behavior, converted on sales for the client or because it makes you feel something. And when that happens, you want to see that piece of work do well, even though the work isn’t yours. It’s a lovely thing. Falling in love with a (few) piece(s) of work made me realize that creative award shows aren’t just about winning awards, they’re about ensuring that the world understands that we as an industry are committed to doing great work and that we all stand behind that commitment.
The way we categorize our work might be going extinct. This year major campaigns converted across multidisciplinary channels. This has me excited. The idea that our work is reflecting the cultural shift toward intersectionality is inspiring and so much fun. It means ideas can be systems, and systems can be data; data can be craft, and craft can be experience and so on.