Brett Colliver: Are our Lions losing their pride?

Tired Lion1.jpgBrett Colliver, CD, DDB represented New Zealand on the Cannes Cyber Lions jury. Colliver reports exclusively for CB.

Are our Lions losing their pride?

I held off writing my last Cannes diary to avoid being lost in the sea of submissions from other jurors.

And therein lies what worries me about Cannes.

There's now so many categories that we've had to start the show two days earlier. Plus add another ceremony on the Thursday night.

And there's so many winners - this year there were something like 1470 - that it's hard for anything to stand out.

It seems we've lost the plot.
Thing is, it's actually as hard to win a Lion as ever. The ratios haven't changed and, from what I could see, the juries haven't become more lenient. Lions are just feeling less special because the numbers have become so overwhelming. And that kinda sucks.

So to all this year's winners I wanted to say that you should cherish anything you won in Cyber, because it didn't come easy. I shudder to think how much great stuff didn't even make our shortlist.

I also wanted to mention how reassuring it was to see our jury searching for pieces that were more than flashy ideas in Cannes-friendly wrappers. Work that signposted something to both the creative side of the industry and our clients. Because, numbers aside, that's what's crucial to keeping the Cirque du Cannes relevant.

I'm sure everyone has seen the gold winners by now, but I thought it'd be worth touching on just a few of the other examples that stand for something significant.

"Twitter Beef"

Social banter isn't the newest idea, but these conversations were special. They were so well written that they rose above what we'd seen before. They didn't feel like the work of a junior writer pumping out social posts, nor were they the generic replies from a brand that we're so used to seeing. Instead they felt like meticulously crafted pieces of copy, the 2017 equivalent of a brilliant headline on a billboard.

But why we really wanted the world to see this work was because it said two things.

To our clients it said that when you do social well it can be as powerful as any brand campaign. So be brave and hand over the keys to your agency.

And to agencies, it said that when your client does hand over control, don't abuse it. Bust your ass to find a voice for the brand and give it as much love as you would a $5 million campaign. Because it can be just as powerful.


Along with "Did You Mean Mailchimp", this was a great example of what a digital brand campaign can be these days. Both ideas start in something as boring as search, but seamlessly and entertainingly spread into every touchpoint you can imagine.

What really impressed me was that this idea was brilliantly built on top of an online conversation that was already happening. Someone, somewhere spotted an opportunity and jumped on it big time. That it might sound easy, but it takes a deft touch for two of the biggest brands in the world to leverage and amplify that in such an elegant way.

You also have to admire whoever convinced McDonald's to not put their logo on any part of the campaign.

"Aland Index Initiative"

OK, this won a Grand Prix so it's not exactly being lost in the pile, but it's still worth pointing out.

Like lots of great ideas, this goes way beyond advertising.

For individuals who want to do their part, the power of the Aland Index is obvious. What got me excited, though, is that it goes further than that.

Once businesses realise that individuals are making decisions based on carbon costs, it means that they'll have to start competing in that space, too. And that's where the idea goes to a new level.

The other message this campaign sent is that in a world of consultancy firms and tech companies and the apocalyptic horsemen who are apparently coming to kill us, this was a powerful reminder of what "traditional" agencies are capable of. And what we should be striving for.

So, like a lot of you, I'm worried that with its ever expanding categories and mind-blowing numbers, Cannes is getting out of control. Rest assured though, that the work is as relevant as ever.

Now we just need to make all of it feel special again.


Dollar Bill said:

Simple. Award shows are just about making money for those who run them. We're just mugs for entering them. And the more awards we enter the bigger mugs we are. Sorry, we've been had.

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