I arrived at Cannes on 9 June to a warm and sunny welcome and got down to judging the same day. The Lions Direct awards has over 2500 entries and it has been a gargantuan, yet enjoyable, task to shortlist entries down to about 300 that stand a chance of winning metal.
For me personally, it has been interesting to see the change in the quality and type of work entered today versus when I was on the Cannes jury 11 years back. The most striking differences are, of course, in the transition to online and digital cases; as well as a dilution of distinction between direct, promo, activation and PR. Many of the entries could easily qualify as an entry in any of these categories and would still have winning potential. The real distinction seems to be more about which discipline is spearheading the campaign.
As far as Asian entries go, there are a handful that have reached the shortlist and I am hopeful some of these will win metal. The disappointing thing for me is that there are many Asian campaigns that come to mind that could have been winners had they entered.
One key lesson at this preliminary stage is that, given the huge number of entries in each category, it is critical for campaign entries to make their presentation videos so impactful and of such high quality that they stand out and draw jury attention. Otherwise it’s tough to make it to the shortlist.
Personally, I have been impressed with work from brands such as Coca-Cola, Samsung, Audi and Heineken.
By now, almost all the jury members have arrived in Cannes and it is great to catch up with old friends and colleagues and I am looking forward to some more sunny days, brilliant campaigns, the World Cup and…some sleep!
Rajat Sethi (front row, just left of center, in white shirt in the picture of the Direct jury above) is managing partner at Strategic Caravan International and former MD of Dentsu Marcom and Wunderman India.