Panning for Gold in Cannes

By christinewatson / / Lisa Bennett is the EVP/Creative of DDB North America and just finished up as a Cannes Film Lions juror. ——————– Every year, the third week of June, marketers from all over the globe endure double-digit hours of travel, multiple time zones, and numerous modes of transportation in order to attend the most prestigious advertising festival in the world – The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Upon arrival in the Côte d’Azur, these lucky souls are rewarded with plenty of sunshine, beachfront luncheons, bottles of rosé wine, fascinating seminars, and the opportunity to view the best creative ideas in the world. My journey this year took 11 hours of flying time, 5 hours of airport time, and 1 and ½ hours of driving time. In spite of surviving the 17 and ½ hour trek, my experience at the Festival did not result in any of the aforementioned luxuries. On the contrary, I spent 7 long days in a cold, dark room sifting through over 3100 pieces of film searching for the 0.004% worthy of receiving a coveted Gold Lion. Such is the glamorous life of a Cannes Film juror. That said, it is quite an honor to be selected for a Cannes Lions jury. Particularly this year as 2013 marked the 60th Anniversary of the Festival. The Presidents of each of the 17 juries were a who’s who of our industry — Dan Wieden, David Droga, Tony Granger and Sir John Hegarty to name a few. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the only advertising guy (that I know of) to be knighted. Sir John welcomed his 22-person Film Lions jury on the first day of judging by reinforcing the important job ahead of us. As he stated, “film is still the most powerful medium. Of the 500 billion dollars spent on advertising, 200 billion of that is spent on television. And digital technology has made film even more powerful as it connects it to a broader audience.” Our task was to recognize the absolute best of those films and set the bar for those to come. The first three days of judging were like looking for tiny needles in a giant haystack. We plowed through hundreds of films sending through the occasional gem as a contender for a Lion. We then reviewed everything that made it through the first round and spent the next two days voting and discussing in order to arrive at a shortlist. The discussions have always been my favorite part of judging. To see the best work in the world in one sitting and to hear the opinions of some of the best creative leaders in the world is both inspiring and educational. It is also not without debate. Once we arrived at a shortlist, the final two days were spent determining the Bronze, Silver and Gold Lions. Each film was evaluated against an incredibly high set of standards. Our discussion focused on criteria such as: Does it draw you in and hold your attention? Does it change or confirm your perception about the product/service? Does it stem from a powerful insight? Does it have a strong connection to the brand? Is it well executed (quality of script, art direction, production)? It is very difficult to get anything through considering that level of scrutiny. Which is why out of those 3125 entries we awarded a mere 94 Lions. The 13 Gold Lions our jury selected not only met all of the above criteria, many were ideas with a social conscience. The Grand Prix in the TV/Cinema category went to Dumb Ways to Die for Metro Trains — an incredibly entertaining film with a message so powerful it helped save people’s lives. The Grand Prix for the Online category, The Beauty Inside for Intel + Toshiba, reminds people that it’s what’s inside that counts. Again, a powerful message and one that links directly to the brand. Other Gold winners included Meet the Superhumans for Channel4’s Paralympic Coverage which transformed public perception of disability, and two different films for Dove with the same message: you are more beautiful than you think. Interestingly enough, the ideas we gave the top awards to in Film — The Beauty Inside, Dumb Ways to Die and Dove Sketches — were also awarded the Grand Prix in Direct, PR, Cyber, Branded Content, Titanium and Integrated. Looking at each of these ideas, not one would be as powerful without the film. So, while our jury may have been the only 22 people at the Cannes Lions Festival that didn’t come back from the South of France with a tan, we did return holding our heads a little higher knowing that we shined a bright light on the type of films marketers should be striving to create if they are going to make an impact in today’s world.