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Creative Cannes Lions Cannes

3 tips for young creatives, from a 2023 Cannes Young Lions finalist

By Trevor Dunne | Associate Designer

Jack Morton


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June 16, 2023 | 6 min read

Jack Morton’s Trevor Dunne was a finalist for the US in this year’s Cannes Young Lions competition, which gives under 30s worldwide 10 days to deliver a creative pitch. Here, Dunne shares three tips for next year’s hopefuls.

The seafront at Cannes

What do young creatives need to know before applying to Cannes Young Lions? / Alexis Amz Da Cruz via Unsplash

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity kicks off this month. One of its flagship programs is the Young Lions competition, a global marketing challenge for young professionals to flex their creative and strategic muscles as it applies to developing campaigns.

Open to anyone in the advertising, digital, media, creative and PR industries under the age of 30, Young Lions is arguably one of the most prestigious global creative competitions for up-and-coming talent. There are five competition categories: digital, film, media, print, and PR. Each participating country holds its own competition and the winners in each category advance to the global competition, which takes place at Cannes Lions. This year’s competition received over 280 entries from hungry young talent nationwide.

The road to the finals

My partner and I participated in this year’s US Young Lions Media competition. Teams of two were challenged to respond to a brief from the 2023 official charity partner, The Creative Ladder. The charity, co-founded by Ryan Reynolds, is dedicated to making creative careers more accessible and inclusive for young people. The brief asked us to help the nonprofit address the awareness gap surrounding creative careers. We were to create an original creative campaign in 10 days.

Trevor Dunne of Jack Morton

Our team placed in the top five, making us finalists in the US competition, and it was the experience of a lifetime. It was fast, nerve-wracking, educational, exhilarating, and priceless. Competing in the final round meant we flew to New York City to pitch our idea live to a panel of leading marketers – the best from brands, agencies, and the Creative Ladder.

It was my first time pitching a campaign live ever. Yeah. The experience had ALL the feels.

While we didn't finish first, I learned a lot, formed enough memories to last a lifetime, and pocketed these three tips that will benefit any young creative in this industry.

1. Clients are buying your ideas and you

This business is very human. It’s a collaboration that involves a lot of trust. The judges told us that authenticity always shines through and never to lose it. Pitches that intentionally incorporate personality and allow space for individuality to shine through stand out.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea is imperative, but we spend almost as much time with our clients as our families, so showing them who you are is equally necessary, so they want to work with you.

2. Raise some eyebrows

The best campaigns have one thing in common: insights that raise eyebrows. The judges stressed how several teams had great insights but added more information than was necessary, diminishing the impact when they revealed the insight. Keep it simple.

A great idea should be two things: easily told and easily understood. Although the small details are essential, the insight needs to be refined to a simple sentence that intrigues and makes an impact.

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3. Don't be afraid of emotion

When you sell an idea, a lot rides on how well you tell the story. You can have incredible insight and phenomenal creativity, but the campaign falls flat if it doesn’t resonate with people’s emotions. Emotionally selling your campaign makes it personal. And when it’s personal, it becomes something everyone believes in. This shifts an idea from one of many possible solutions to the only solution that everyone in the room gets behind. Make your audience forget about the competition's ideas by believing in yours.

For me, The Young Lions experience wasn’t just about winning, but growth too. The knowledge gained and the memories created were invaluable. As young creatives in the early phase of our careers, we must continuously strive to improve, challenge ourselves and embrace new opportunities to grow. It’s only then we can learn to create campaigns with a lasting impact and make our mark on marketing.

Creative Cannes Lions Cannes

Content by The Drum Network member:

Jack Morton

No one sets out to be average. No one aspires to be ordinary. Jack Morton is an award-winning global brand experience agency that exists to reimagine what an experience can be. We do that by pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in every format — virtual, live or hybrid.

We're driven by the fact that the world's most successful brands deliver proof on their brand promise at every touchpoint. It's what inspires our team each day to help clients "Be extraordinary."

For over 80 years, we've strengthened the relationships between brands and the people who matter most to them through live, virtual, and hybrid experiences, brand acts, integrated campaigns, sponsorship marketing, employee experiences, exhibits and trade shows, digital transformation, healthcare marketing and broadcast design.

Jack Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG). More information is available at

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