Robert Sawatzky
Jun 21, 2023

Campaign at Cannes 2023: How the gaming jury chose its winners

Australian juror Claire Waring tells Campaign about the pressure, decision-making, and diverse work that made being part of an inaugural jury so interesting.

R/GA Australia ECD Claire Waring
R/GA Australia ECD Claire Waring

The Cannes Lions' inaugural Entertainment Lions for Gaming were handed out on Tuesday evening. The Grand Prix was awarded to Wieden + Kennedy Portland's 'Clash from the Past' mockumentary for 'Clash of Clans', which also took home the Entertainment Grand Prix.

Asia took home five awards in total, including a silver and bronze for the Philippines' Leo Burnett Manila for its Unbranded Menu work for McDonald's. Japan, Taiwan and India all received bronze awards.

In Cannes, Campaign caught up with one juror, RGA Australia ECD Claire Waring, to discuss what went into the award deliberations.

What was it like to serve on an inaugural jury where you had no guidance from previous years?

This jury definitely felt the pressure in a really good way, knowing that we were going to be setting the tone for this category for years to come. So there was a lot of discussion even before arriving in Cannes around what we were going to be looking for, even as we were shortlisting because it is such a new category, and also a space that I think the advertising world hasn't quite embraced yet. So, for us defining what creativity is for advertising or a brand in that space was really important.

What struck you about the work you saw?

It was a really diverse category. We had work from endemic brands, as well as work from gaming titles themselves. There was work entered from the whole gaming universe. When many people think of gaming, they think of changing something within the game for a brand. But it was nice to see work around the streaming platforms, communities and conversations that exist around gaming as well. Even in the winners and categories, there's work that ranges in-game, like in Fortnite, right through to video based around gaming, like the Grand Prix winner. 

Some of the best work we saw really put fans and players at the very heart of it. It enhanced the player experience in a way that wasn't just about delivering a message, but about engaging them in some kind of immersive or interactive way, or entertaining them in some way that really resonated with the culture of the game and the gaming community. And I think that's really important for brands going forward. It was a message that we did want to put out into the advertising and the Cannes world.

When it comes to gaming, you have to think about it a little bit differently. You almost have to flip the traditional advertising approach on its head. Rather than think of a message that you want to send top down, start to think about how you can build from gaming culture up. It's really important because gamers are skeptical of brands. They love it when brands get involved, when they add something to the player experience. But if they feel like you've intruded into their very personal space with a big ad message, it’s met with a lot of skepticism and harsh criticism.

I think the brands that are doing really well in this space take the time to understand what makes the player tick, and then use that knowledgewhich I guess is true across many types of of advertising, but you really see it in gaming.

What stood out about the Grand Prix winner, Clash of Clans, ‘Clash from the Past’?

This whole ‘mockumentary’ went so deep and they executed it so beautifully that it was a major, major hit with players and fans. Which is partly why it was awarded: because of its bravery. It could have gone either way. You could have had a community of players and fans absolutely up in arms about [a fake history], but they loved it. Part of the way that we judged the work in the gaming category was not just what we felt was creative and a great idea, but what really landed and resonated within the community itself. Because gaming is community-driven by its very nature, we felt it was important that the work resonated with fans and had impact with fans and with the broader community as much as it did with a creative jury.

How well did work from APAC perform in the category? 

I think the region did incredibly well. I would go so far as to say in my experience of judging awards, this is proportionally the best show of Asia that I've seen and I think that's because as we know,  gaming is huge in Asia. I was really proud actually. There was really good representation of Asia on this jury, which helps. 

One of the ones I loved out of Asia is Unbranded Menu for McDonald's out of the Philippines, where they got they got fans to go in and identify McDonald's within the games that were pre-existing. It was such a clever use of existing content. Some brands would go in there [and] impose some rules around their brand use. They just embraced it, and it was a great campaign on a budget, with the fans loving the challenge too. So in that regard, everybody won, I think.

Any points of friction or disagreement within the jury?

There were indeed. We actually asked for more metal to be awarded and went over the original allocation, partly because we were judging two years' worth of work. There was a lot of work in there that we felt we wanted to move forward to help show that it's not just big brands, but it can be smaller brands as well. So there was a little moment of tension around that. But mainly there was really great healthy debate around what constituted gaming work. One of the things that we debated was: can you judge creativity from a game itself against a brand piece? Because they're two very different things. So, some of our feedback to the festival was we may need to separate those things. 


Campaign Asia

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