How to build a better Cannes Lions

Canada's Cannes judges offer advice on how to make the show better

Few would turn down the chance to attend or judge the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. But those who’ve survived the ever-growing event know it is as overwhelming (and, frankly, expensive) as it is inspiring.

Just before Canada’s crop of jury presidents and judges headed across the Atlantic, we asked some of them how they felt the festival could improve its offering. What would make the Lions an even bigger, better, warmer experience?

John Clinton

ClintonHSChair of Edelman Canada, head of creative and content for Edelman North America
PR jury president

I can’t believe how much the Cannes Festival has evolved over the past decade. I find it both inspiring and motivating. They are moving in the right direction with an increased focus on ROI. I believe that being able to tie the world’s best creative to the world’s most impressive results makes Cannes better.

The way to make Cannes even better is to keep upping the level of presenters. Some of the sessions are mind-blowingly good, while the odd not-so-badly-disguised sales pitch still slips through. In this day and age of TED-perfected speeches, there is an expectation that all the speakers will be of a similar calibre. The opportunity is for Cannes to continue to bring in the big-name speakers they have become famous for, but also to continuously upgrade the rest of their speakers by finding the “hidden gems” of the creative world.

Ann Stewart

StewartHSPresident of Maxus
Media jury member

I think one of things we are all struggling with in our new world, where technology is leading change, is that a great idea can come from anywhere, including our consumers. I envision a future in all award categories where media is not in its own category. Where, as an industry, we can be recognized for the insights, ideas and execution we can provide.

Brent Choi

ChoiHSChief creative officer of J. Walter Thompson Canada & New York
Cyber jury member

Cannes has become the pinnacle, the indicator of whether work is good. But the shows have gotten crazy. They have so many categories. We entered something one of our teams did in the U.S. to help shelter pets. I swear there’s a category in Cannes called “Use of Social Influencer for Animal Welfare.” They have so many niche categories, and I don’t think people care about them. If I win in Social Influencer for Animal Welfare, all people know is, ‘Hey, they won a Lion. What colour is it? How many did you win?'”

Claude Auchu

AuchuHSPartner, vice-president and creative director, design at LG2
Design jury member

Everyone understands the value of design, but it’s not in the primetime of communication culture. In all these competitions, you have agency of the year, promo agency of the year, digital agency of the year, but you don’t have design agency of the year. We need to put effort into making people understand more of the value of design. It’s a push-pull between the people who own the competitions and the agencies who own the talent and client relationships, making sure design has a good voice in the communication sphere.

Steph Mackie

MackieHSOwner of Mackie Biernacki
Direct jury member

Right now, I wish they’d heat the rooms where you judge, which is really a concern because I’m a primo cold wimp. I’ve had some of the other judges connect with me and say “Can’t wait to spend 10 days with you in a freezing cold room!”

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Marketing, available online now to subscribers.

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