The team at Campaign US asked me for a post-Cannes perspective, an "inside the jury room" type recap to follow my role as jury president of the first-ever Entertainment Lions.
Then two things happened:
My jury-mate Josh Black of GroupM wrote a fantastic piece for Campaign Asia-Pacific from inside the very same jury room
I got hung up on the word "perspective."
Perspective: While we’re in Cannes gaining perspective on our industry, we lose our perspective on the world.
Approximately 20,000 of us fly a combined millions of miles to spend a week of our lives thinking and talking about every imaginable major and minute aspect of marketing and media, while celebrating the creativity that propels them both. Hundreds of thousands more of us join the week-long conversation via digital and social.
Approximately 200 of us divide into category-specific juries to spend our days and nights of that same week in dark, notoriously cold rooms in the Palais des Festivals establishing rigorous judging criteria and then reviewing thousands of submissions from around the world.
We debate the submissions’ merits, and ultimately award a tiny percentage of those submissions the coveted Cannes Lions in Bronze, Silver, Gold and Grand Prix. Marketers and their agencies around the world spend the week clicking "refresh" on their browsers, waiting for the juries’ results, and the line for a seat in the Palais at the evening awards ceremonies stretches a quarter mile down the Croisette.
For a group of professionals who are already dedicated to our clients and craft, Cannes Lions is a remarkable annual commitment. We individually and collectively commit to gathering insight, to creating connection, and to gaining industry perspective through intense industry focus. But, our intense industry focus comes at a cost. If this were a morality tale, I might suggest this is a bad thing. How dare we de-prioritize — even accidentally, incidentally, and momentarily — world events in a week that included England’s departure from both the EU and the Euro2016; the horrors of Istanbul and Bangladesh; the aftershocks of Orlando; the bizarre American presidential election; and much, much more.
Thankfully, this is not a morality tale. This is an article for an industry publication in an industry that needs to focus on itself more now than at any time in the past 50 years. We, who love to consider ourselves disruptors, are being disrupted. Old advertising formats are less efficient and less reliable than ever. New media ad-avoidance tools pop-up as quickly as the new media ad formats pop up. CMO tenure is at an all-time low and agency reviews are at an all-time high. Our procurement process is often more rigorous than our strategic and creative process. All of this puts marketing budgets into limbo despite the fact that marketing (especially great marketing) drives consumer demand. One could argue that consumer demand drives the new global economy, and — shot of perspective — the global economy does not appear to be so hot.
Put another way, our week together losing and gaining perspective at Cannes Lions might be our most important work week of the year. The inspiration and information we’ll bring to our colleagues and clients around the world in the 51 weeks until we do this again might spark the very ideas and results that keep CMOs in their jobs, keep clients with their agencies, unlock marketing budgets, and move our industry forward and the global economy with it.
My post-Cannes Lions perspective? The run-on doomsday two paragraphs above is no match for the brilliant creativity and bold optimism I experienced in that dark, notoriously cold Palais jury room. In case study after case study and campaign after campaign I witnessed the old transforming into the new. I saw a good old-fashioned billboard turn into an interactive streaming reality competition show and a newspaper brand reinvent itself through the power of storytelling in virtual reality. In conversation after conversation focused solely on the power of creativity to deliver business results, I experienced our marketing peers from around the world concluding — perhaps incidentally — that while the economy may continue to sputter, while bad things will continue to happen, and while we all have a lot of very hard work to do, great ideas, and those who dare to bring them into the world, will succeed.
So, while we all may have lost sight of the world’s big problems for a week, our focus on the relatively small thing that we do best may just help solve those big problems. Being a small part of a big solution seems to me like a rather good use of a week.
Jae Goodman is chief creative officer and co-head of CAA Marketing