James Wright's Cannes Diary #2

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 2.26.09 pm.jpgJames Wright, CEO, Red Agency APAC and COO, Havas Sydney is representing Australia on the Cannes PR Lions jury. Wright, along with most of the Australian and NZ jurors, is reporting exclusively for CB.

All aboard 'The Polarised Express'.

After three days holed up in the darkest dungeon rooms of the Palais dealing with hundreds of entries, the majority of which seem to be tackling the polarised nature of today's world, be it in politics, business or society, you might think I am close to jumping off the top of the Grand Hotel. However, as we have seen down the ages, at times of great change and uncertainty emerges great creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. And we are seeing this in spades. 
Whether it is human rights, equality for women, LGBT support or a simple call for political sanity, the use of innovation and fun to tackle them has been a major feature.  Rather than using scare tactics or guilting people to change, it has been much more upbeat and celebratory in nature, it's refreshing.

Cannes judging could be akin to being in a low security prison. Ok, may be that is a stretch, but you are locked away for ten hours a day in a small box and granted just 45 minutes outside (for lunch). It is both tiring, inspiring and claustrophobic. Lunch is quite a contrast as you sit in the baking Cannes sun, sweating like a pig eating an un-inspired combination of beef kebab, curly brie and what purports to pineapple salad, chatting about what you have seen and the cruelty of the prison guards (the organisers) whose job is to subject you to death by case film.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 2.26.00 pm.jpgYet working with 20 other jurors from all parts of the world is a great bonding experience and as you become lethargic as the day marches on, watching case after case, idea after idea, you also recognise the immense task and honour it is to be judging the best global work. Having such a varied set of people that can provide cultural and educational insights, ensures each campaign is given a fair go.  It is unfortunate Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 2.25.51 pm.jpgthat some of the best stuff also finds itself in the wrong category, especially as we all know the considerable time and money it takes to put together your case.  It is even worse when you find that entry wasn't also entered into the category it would have done well in....

To get through the days you need a jury group that is fun and I am very happy to have a great bunch of people in mine. To help us get through today, our jury group decided to create some new categories based on themes of the day, which we aim to put to Savage & Co at the end of the week.  Suggestions included:

·        The Jersey category - put forward by my jury colleague from Belgium due to the many, many campaigns that involved the interesting use of sports jerseys.

·        The Watson category - referencing the number of AI related entries, a recommendation by my Argentine colleague.

·        The Trump category - a massively contested category that my Brazilian friend is championing.

·        The Rabbit category - from my German colleague. Like the Razzies to the Oscars, basically this category is the opposite of a Lion.

It is all done in jest, and helps you get through the day with a smile. 

One thing I love about judging is the art pieces that are the case films. When they are done smartly and can drive an emotional connection they can make you cry, gasp, laugh and even produce the odd snort.  So much relies on your campaign grabbing the jury attention, so having a supreme case film that tells your story well, outlines a clear insight and in the PR categories in particular, demonstrates clear results, is an absolute must.

Tomorrow we come together to start devising the shortlist. Am expecting things to get interesting as we head towards the serious end of judging.

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