Cannes is the useful, usable and delightful festival of our industry – what’s not to like?

Patrick Collister, The Drum’s creative contributing editor, argues the case for the merits of Cannes Lions.

What better way to start my blog for The Drum than in the run-up to Cannes Lions?

This is when the same old argument raises its head.

Do awards matter?

If anything, the debate gets hotter each year.

Probably because awards are now big business.

At The Big Won, we estimated that agencies around the world spend as much as $1bn a year on trying to win fame and all it brings.

Last year, there were 43,101 submissions to Cannes.

This year, if they get 50,000 entries, the fees will be around €25m.

How can those numbers be justified?

I am an unequivocal fan.

Firstly, award-winning work works better.

James Hurman’s brilliant book “The Case for Creativity” used the econometrician’s tools to show that great ideas are greatly effective.

For the UK’s IPA, Peter Field and Les Binet showed that award winning work was eleven times more successful in the market place than work that had won nothing.

Even McDonald’s own numbers suggest they get 54% better ROI on Cannes-winning work.

Simon Thompson, the marketer behind Honda “Cog”, which should have won the Film Grand Prix at Cannes, and “Grrr”, which did, told me that he was uninterested in awards himself. However, he had a problem.

He had a new car to launch that cost a lot more than the model it was replacing. And half the budget of Toyota.

He went to award-winning Wieden+Kennedy because that’s where he knew he would find the talent to bring him a solution.

Creative people are competitive people.

They benchmark themselves through the gongs they win.

It can be relentless.

The morning after he had won a Gold pencil at D&AD for Guinness “Surfer”, Walter Campbell was at his desk at 7.30am.

Was he good enough to win a second one?

The Drum’s own awards, including the gloriously disrespectful Chip Awards of last week, acknowledge more than just the competitive nature of agencies.

They point the way to best practice in the immediate future.

The Drum Search Awards, Content Awards, Marketing Awards and Social Buzz Awards are in themselves signposts of change.

Search didn’t exist when I won my first Gold at Cannes.

It was 1989 (I think – well, it was a long time ago!) and I drove a Porsche because in those days the creatives had the magic dust.

Today, it’s the data analysts who have the juju.

The Drum recognises these new tyros.

And so does Cannes.

Of much greater interest to me than the TV and Film Lions next week will be the Creative Data Lions, closely followed by the Cyber, Mobile and Digital Craft awards.

I hope to report back to you how AI is transforming communications; how creativity is fuelling Programmatic; and how technology is helping brands create new products and services of real value to their customers.

Lars Bastholm, chief creative officer of Google’s Pegasus unit, says technology gives brands the wherewithal to be useful, usable and delightful to their customers.

Remember, this is a time when those pesky millennials are looking at brands through narrowed eyes. Being useful, usable and delightful is how to remain relevant.

Actually, it could be the key to remaining.

And it’s not a bad way to think of Cannes.

Useful, for sure, to see others are innovating.

Usable, in that there are always great ideas to adapt, borrow or steal.

Delightful. Well, if you have the good fortune to be there, drinking rosé with old mates and talking about the work, the work, the work, what’s not to like?

Pip pip.

Patrick Collister has joined The Drum as creative contributing editor, you can find him on twitter at @directnewideas

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