Cannes Lions: Back to Basics

The parties are (nearly) over, the cabanas are coming down. What are we left with? The winner’s gallery and one final awards night. Jen Collins wraps up the Cannes Lions Festival 2015.

My first week at Cannes has been non-stop. From organising an event on the Grand Audi stage to interviewing Sir Martin Sorrell, I’ve had all kinds of once-in-a-career opportunities this week. But there are a few moments, a few talks and a few surprises that have stuck with me.

  • The enthusiasm and dedication of the PR industry at Ogilvy’s morning-after event;

  • Hearing an ad man complain that the PRs are ‘taking over’;

  • The honesty and passion of Jamie Oliver on how to create an authentic movement;

  • Charlotte Beers chiding Sir Martin Sorrell’s version of a story as they discuss gender equality;

  • And goose-bumps in the Debussy theatre watching a Grand Prix entry video.

Last night the #HKCannes team were asking ourselves how we could get to come back next year. And the most sensible of our rose-fueled ideas was the simplest one: enter some more work.

My most inspiring moment was watching a copywriter find out his campaign had been shortlisted for a Lion. We decided we’d like to come back and have that experience too.

I spent this afternoon in the Palais watching films; reading posters; looking at designs. It struck me that that’s what we’re here for: seeing the work we sweat over for our clients getting the recognition it deserves. So how does the PR industry get in on that recognition?

The PR Lions jury offered some excellent advice after the awards: try again.

Jury: try again. It’s a learning process – get involved again even if you didn’t win last year #HKCannes

— H+K Strategies UK (@HK_London) June 24, 2015

The only way the PR industry will get more Lions is if we enter more. The opinions in the debriefing room varied as to whether or not we needed to be lead agency on an entry. But one thing is for sure; ad agencies have years’ more practice making Cannes entries than we do, and the only way we will get better is to do it more for ourselves.

The winning entries this year showed a clear trend towards being about real-world results. Not just getting an idea seen, but changing behaviour because of that. The campaigns that won were truly integrated. Ad agencies were boasting about the ‘free media exposure’ they earned. All of this plays right into the PR industry’s skill set. There’s no reason we shouldn’t see our ideas on that stage more in the future.

“PR is the glue for integration. Does it matter that we don’t own the creative idea?” #hkcannes

— H+K Strategies UK (@HK_London) June 24, 2015

So in 2016, whether I get to come back or not, I’ll be encouraging everyone to enter more work. What I learned this week is an appreciation for what the juries are looking for; what makes an auditorium collectively gasp; what makes me say ‘I wish that was my idea.’ I hope I can put those lessons to good use and get the opportunity to try and try again.

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