Patrick Tom
Jun 17, 2014

Jury notes from Cannes: Direct category a little fuzzy, but that’s a good thing

Patrick Tom, group creative director of TBWA Shanghai, shares his impressions from sitting on the Cannes Direct Lions jury.

Jury notes from Cannes: Direct category a little fuzzy, but that’s a good thing

See all of Campaign Asia-Pacific's Cannes coverage here, and visit Campaign@Cannes for round-the-clock festival coverage by our entire international team.

It’s 1.30 am Monday as I walk down the boulevard of the Croissette to my hotel. I’m exhausted but elated. My job is done. Since last Tuesday, I’ve spent all of my waking hours with a group of 23 fellow jury members in a room that could double as a walk-in refrigerator. In the Direct category there were 2,676 entries across 29 categories, 99.5 per cent of which were two- to three-minute case study films, adding up to over 110 hours of jury viewing pleasure.

The jury comprised people from 20 countries including Japan, USA, UK, Israel, Columbia, India, Brasil and Croatia, just to name a few. With such a wide range of perspectives and opinions, judging was extremely tough. And although we all have cultural differences, the one thing we shared was how indefinable the category is. Keep in mind, there are 29 of them.

Every day the most common debate over a piece of work was: Is this Direct? Or, How is it Direct?

Is Direct a mailed letter with a redeemable coupon? A television ad with a phone number at the end to call? A call made from a telemarketer? A flyer with an offer? A text message that asks you to reply? A radio ad with a website to visit? A banner ad that you click to receive a discount? An outdoor board inviting you to text a number for a free gift? A giant blimp with a phone number on the side of it? A poster with a QR code that links you to a company’s website? An email with a jpg banner attached? A print ad with a number for you to SMS? A business card that doubles as toilet paper? A leaflet with a business card stapled to it? An online film with annotations leading you to a microsite? A cricket bat with a coupon etched into it?

You get the picture. With the technology that’s available today, Direct is all of the above and much, much more.

Keeping this in mind, after five long days we reached a consolidated long list, which was then culled down to a final shortlist. From there, we took our time discussing the merits of each piece to determine which we would award metal. When it came to selecting the Grand Prix, we asked ourselves the following: Does the winning idea have a human insight that was universal? Is the idea globally appealing? Is the creative relevant? Did it illicit a response? Is it unique and ownable for the brand? Is it flawlessly executed? In the end, we believe our final choice (below) answered all of them.

So as I leave this experience with a fuzzy definition of Direct, I think it’s a great thing. With new technology being developed every day to enhance the way we communicate, there’s no limit to where it can go. And that’s exciting stuff. Because who knows? I’m sure we’ll see a few more categories added on in the coming years.


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