Cannes Jury Spotlight: Dawid Szczepaniak

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 reviews the work that will ultimately take home a coveted Cannes Lion.

Joining the ranks of the industry’s most recognized and respected creative professionals, Dawid Szczepaniak, CCO of VMLY&R Poland, is serving as juror on Brand Experience & Activation Lions.

Dawid Szczepaniak is the CCO of VMLY&R Poland. He leads a team of 120+ creatives. He has over 240 international and local industry awards, including the first ever Polish Grand Prix, the first ever Polish Titanium and the first ever Polish Agency of the Year title at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Over the course of 17 years he worked with brands and companies like adidas, BNP Paribas, BP, Danone, Decathlon, Diageo, HBO, Heineken Group, H&M, IKEA, Intel, Lidl, Orange, PepsiCo, Pernod Ricard, Philips, Procter&Gamble, Samsung, Tesco, T-Mobile.

Szczepaniak is a passionate keynote speaker best known for a fierce encouragement towards a bold brand activism. He presented at Cannes Lions Festival, TEDx, Business Insider Trends Festival, Golden Drum festival and others.

A jury member at local and global creative shows: Cannes Lions, GoldenDrum Festival, Webby Awards, Kyiv International Advertising Festival, South Koreaan AdStars, New York Festivals, MENA Cristal Awards, KTR, IAB Mixx Poland, IAB Mixx Romania.

What do you think will be the big talking points at this year’s festival?  

A brand's activism is the king, more than ever. Out of all golds that we’ve given in our category, there was only one piece that had nothing to do with an attempt to bring some goodness into the word. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the biggest advocates of brands getting involved in important causes. Yet, very often during our judging time we told ourselves: "yes, the cause behind this piece is fantastic… but where is the creativity element?”

How do you spot Cannes-winning work?   

First of all - jealousy and anger. I want to be almost furious that it was not me or my creatives who came up with this idea. I felt it more than ever over the last two weeks. Second of all - breaking out of Cannes Lions patterns. Many shortlisted entries followed patterns that Cannes Lions juries have been awarding for decades. Hanging something symbolic on the iconic statue in your capital city. Get a deal with an insurance company and introduce a surprising insurance around your product. 

This year’s Brand Experience and Activation biggest winners do not follow patterns, they create new ones. 

Describe creativity during the pandemic in one sentence.  

“Big brands giving their media channels and brand spaces to various groups affected by the pandemic: local entrepreneurs / healthcare workers and so on”. 

What makes you passionate about the category you were nominated to judge?

I could not be happier with the jury that I was invited to. Brand experience and activation is where the magic happens. Isn’t our job all about activating people to experience brands and their products? 

What do you hope to take away from judging at Cannes?

It was a tremendous dose of inspiration and motivation. I am humbled by the knowledge, intellect and empathy of my fellow jury members. Perhaps, my biggest take away is this strong commitment to avoid patterns and trails that have been blazed before.

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