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Cannes Lions Marketing

Cannes-cancellation is a chance to restore faith among young creatives

By Manuel Borde , Chief creative officer, North America

April 15, 2020 | 5 min read

Heard often around industry circles lately; "The next Cannes Lions will be the toughest and most competitive one yet”. It makes sense as we prepare to see two years of great work crunched into one single edition; Cannes Lions 20-21 (typo intended).



And even though extending eligibility to cover both years is how it should be done (I’d hate for the Moldy Whopper not to be the center of heated debates in the jury rooms next year, I hope it gains the recognition it deserves) we ask ourselves, will this be a memorable Cannes Lions? And what can be improved moving forward?

Before I start, I’d like to clarify that I am a FULL supporter and believer of the value Cannes Lions bring to our work. It does, however, scare me to see how many people in our industry don’t anymore, and this was evident in reading responses across social media to this year’s cancellation news. It’s not just a couple of haters anymore, I see a lot of inconformity within a big crowd of mostly young creatives, who are tired of what the event has become.

How Cannes Lions decides to address these questions, next summer will be a big step towards restoring the faith of these creatives or perhaps towards adding to the haters club.

Will entries to the festival double? And if they do, should we be handing out more awards?

In my opinion, no. First, I don’t think entries will double especially fresh off the situation we will be emerging from. What will most likely happen is agencies will filter their entries, benchmarking it against their own work from a year before. I believe (or hope) we will see a more elevated standard of work, and I truly believe if anything, we should be giving even less lions than we normally do, and reducing categories instead of adding new ones every year. A bronze should feel great again, not like a slap in the face.

Since it’s two years in one, should we go back to a seven-day festival or even longer?

Again, no. If anything these five days should be the best of the best. There is no excuse for an underwhelming speaker at Cannes, every speaker/session should be world class. Like for real.

Should we move to a more “virtual mode”?

Those of us lucky enough to have been to the festival know how valuable face to face networking is. Cannes is a place where clients, creatives and others converge under lovely weather and beautiful scenery. I connected with my first two bosses there and scored my first two jobs; sure it was my work that ultimately got me the offer, but meeting there in person got me on their radar. Would we be able to network the same way via Zoom? Doubt it. Also, the feeling of winning an award while you are there vs winning while you are away just isn’t the same.

However, there is one thing that has been working well; virtual access to the content. We should continue this and make the work even more accessible. Not for us, but for young talent that would love to see themselves there one day, on stage. It should be free.

And one more for the road.

Should Covid-19 ideas be allowed to enter?

Tough one, and here’s where lovers and haters of the festival are strongly divided. On one hand I do agree with those who think some of the Covid-19 related work is just awards bait (Best use of Logo?), but there are other efforts out there that have truly been meaningful and actionable. My opinion? We need a middle ground. Celebrate but don’t profit from these entries, receive submissions and give one single award to the best and most genuine Covid-19 effort. This can be the revamped “Grand Prix for Good” next year.

My Covid-19 GP Contender? Eastern University of Kentucky’s Face Mask for the hearing impaired.

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