From the Jury Room - VMLY&R Takeaways

At Cannes Lions, the world’s premier festival recognizing creative excellence, thousands of entries pour in from countries worldwide. Behind the scenes, a carefully selected panel of judges has spent the last week awarding coveted Cannes Lions to the world’s top creative work.

VMLY&R jurors share their takeaways from a week spent among the industry’s most respected creative professionals:

Ryan McManus, VMLY&R South Africa CCO - Entertainment Jury 

I find Entertainment one of the most exciting and relevant categories in the advertising world today. It’s the convergence of all the stuff creative people like to make… and the stuff that consumers actually like to spend time with. In the fragmented media world, we live in, everyone has choices, and ad-blockers. I love that entertainment is a solution that adds value to the consumer, rather than trying to outsmart their ad-blocker. As marketers, if we are not creating entertainment, then what exactly are we doing? As a category, entertainment is also a real shapeshifter. It is hard to define rationally. What length and format should it be? And I am sure there will be lots of debates on “is it or isn’t it”? But the emotional definition is easier. Do I want to keep watching this? There is some great work this year, and it’s exciting to see the different types of storytelling and formats really challenge the parameters of branding and entertainment. And every year, the work that is awarded both disrupts and refines the category at the same time.

Paul Nagy, VMLY&R Australia & New Zealand CCO - Outdoor Jury

It’s so hard to make an impact in outdoor. People are usually focused on travelling, not advertising, and if they’re consuming anything, it’s usually on those even more overwhelming little screens in their hands. Getting them to notice and engage with us in the great outdoors has never, ever been harder. That’s why this was such a brilliant jury to be a part of. Seeing how the most creative minds in the world achieved this has been a genuinely inspiring experience, and reinforced to me once again, that creativity can cut through anything.

Nathalie Brown, VMLY&R New York ECD - Direct Jury

I’ve been interested to see all the ways Direct entries achieved their goals across different media. This category has certainly evolved from the days when it was mostly made up of snail mail. Now, brands have a plethora of ways to reach their target and get a response. This year, these entries are trending towards a tremendous amount of light-hearted work targeting men. But there is far less work targeted to women, and that work predominantly focuses on raising awareness around abuse or on cancer prevention – both incredibly important topics, but a narrow perception of who women are. With women spending over $20 trillion a year globally, I’m looking forward to a day when we see more humorous, award-winning work from brands honoring women's retail power and influence! A day when we can create changes on serious issues and we can laugh, too.  

Jon Bird, VMLY&R Australia & New Zealand CEO - Creative eCommerce Jury

Finishing the pre-judging stage of Creative eCommerce was an intense experience – 290 separate entries, each with a board, a 2-minute video, and a detailed written submission. I was impressed by the range of entries, and the ingenuity of the best contenders. My take-out is that cutting-edge commerce solutions go way beyond the transactional to the experiential – and do so in a way that is surprising but completely relevant and useful.

Dhruv Warrior, VMLY&R EMEA ACD - Direct Jury

Judging the direct category was challenging and educational at the same time. From targeting consumers with micro influencers, to helping change laws, I saw it all this year. There were some outstanding pieces that are sure to be discussed throughout the festival. What I did notice was how big the Not-for-Profit category has become, and how many pieces of work were creating real change. It was heartening. I’d love to see some of those campaigns still running 5 years from now with even better results helping our world.  

Alexis Bronstorph, TAXI Canada ECD - Branded Entertainment Jury

The work in Branded Entertainment truly makes it feel like anything is possible. I love how thoughtful and diverse the work is.

 Ian Davidson, VMLY&R Kansas City Executive Director, Strategy & Insights - Creative Strategy Jury

What was obvious in Creative Strategy is that a strategy is often more than half the idea, and every bit as creative as the work that falls out of it. Since it’s an inaugural year for the category, there were a lot of possible interpretations for what “Creative Strategy” even means. Data? Insight? Brand? Go-to-market? The answer turned out to be yes, with the best cases demonstrating how one discipline of strategy would build on another and inform the ultimate creative. One of the things I find tremendously humbling is to be on the jury that got to define what “Creative Strategy” is for Cannes moving forward. More than just results, we focused on celebrating the work that showed us how Strategy should work in the future. With that in mind, it was truly a special honor to judge an inaugural category and a responsibility the jury did not take lightly.

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