Laurent Simon, Chief Creative Officer at VMLY&R London, shares the trends he saw amongst the entries and what it takes to shine in the Film Craft category.
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1. How creative our industry is

If there were still any doubts within the industry that creative thinking lives beyond the creative department, this past year or so has completely blown this stereotype out of the water. In a context that’s demanded so much from so many people, it’s been utterly impressive to witness how resilient, creative, and resourceful, teams have been around the world - across all practices - whether in marketing, an agency or in production.

There may be fewer outstanding pieces of work than we would usually see, but the overall standard still is quite remarkable.

I find it both humbling and inspiring to work in an industry that knows no fear of adversity.


2. Not the best vintage for animation

There is so much incredible talent in animation studios around the world, but 2020-2021 won’t be remembered as a fine vintage for this practice. I don’t wish to spend time hypothesising as to why that is, but looking at the overall pool of entries this year, apart from a few shining stars, it’s clear that a combination of external factors have regrettably impacted our friends in animation, which greatly saddens me.


3. The usual suspects

Overall, we haven’t seen too many new entrants and seen fewer entries from traditionally less creative brands. Usually, in any given year, we’re pleasantly surprised and obviously welcome outstanding creative work from places other than the big corporations. Whereas this year, the companies that tend to appear are the big usual suspects.

This is undoubtedly a reflection of the financial impact most businesses have had to deal with this past year.

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1. Originality and Mastery

I may be stating the obvious here, but there are two criteria that will never go away.

The initial lens a judge has when looking at entries for craft consists of two questions:

  • Is the idea great?
  • Has the craft elevated the idea?

You can’t have a poor idea that is well executed get a Lion. Nor can you have a great idea poorly executed be awarded either.

The recipe to success, or at least get through the first round, is to succeed at both.


2. Respect and care

Today’s world is a buyer’s market. There’s so much competition out there that if a brand were to die tomorrow, the world would move on without thinking twice about it (apart from maybe the BBC and the NHS, from a British perspective).

This crowded existence means brands have to double up their efforts in showing why they deserve consumers attention, loyalty, time, and money. Ultimately, this comes down to 2 things: respect and care.

- The substance itself.

Regardless of what the idea is, it needs to show respect towards its audience, demonstrating that, as a brand, they have a meaningful role and place to play in people’s lives. No matter how big, small, frequent, or sporadic that connection might be, the substance of the message needs to be authentic and have a genuine purpose.

- Working symbiotically with the style.

Craft is showing your audience you care. The tonality, look and feel of a brand can take many shapes, and rightfully so, but fundamentally the craft you put into it denotes how much you care when you are reaching out to connect with a particular audience.

On a personal level, I put a lot of emphasis on this. I think our industry has a way to go in terms of its overall output and whether it “interrupts” people’s lives in a positive way. More work that shows respect and care can only be a good thing for us all and the nature of the relationship the public has with our industry as a whole.


3. Spark change

This will probably be the hardest to engineer because I don’t think anyone can legitimately set out to revolutionise a sector from the word go. Of course, having the ambition to do so in the first place helps, but making transformative work is something that only really comes to life once it’s out there and out of your control. The industry and the public make that call for you.

The very best work stands the test of time because it has often spoken out about something for the first time, or it’s done something never achieved before. I can’t make assumptions as to how my fellow judges from around the world feel when they see the work, but as far as I’m concerned I’ve always had very clear judgement criteria to discern the good from the great:

Good work makes me jealous. Great work fills me with joy and happiness.

Over time I’ve learnt that jealousy is triggered when I see work I or my team could have come up with, whereas happiness comes in when I see work that will not only show a way forward for the industry, but also incentivise the next generation of talent to join our wonderful world, making the world we live in a tiny bit better - whether for 10 seconds or forever.



This article was first published in Creative Salon

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