Confessions Of A Cannes Media Lions Judge

The most challenging thing about being in Cannes for 10 days is that I won't have any proof - by way of a nice tan - that I've been in this glamorous beachside resort! Instead, I'll probably be locked in a dark room, hardly getting use of my sunglasses to enjoy that glorious Cannes sunshine! 

In all seriousness though, I’m really looking forward to my tenure as a Cannes Lions judge as it’ll give me the opportunity to view and assess media across the globe and better understand what's going on in the vast world of media.    

I wish I could already make some predictions about who will win and what campaigns to look out for but the truth is, as jurors we won’t see the submissions until we’re out there and on lock-down, so currently I’m as in the dark as everyone else (literally and figuratively, come Thursday). 

However, with my experience of judging Dubai Lynx and other international award programs, I’ve come to know a little bit about what to expect from media submissions. Namely, the types of things that will catch a judge’s eye and also those repeated cliches that will cause us to roll our eyes in disbelief and then that magical moment when we all agree we found a true winner among the lot. 

I know for example, that we’ll come across far too many submissions that will have ignored one, some or all three of the basic pre-requisites: True Insight, Creative use of Media and Business Results.  

Some entries will mistakenly believe that it’s enough to use digital media to reach Millennials, for instance, without any specific insight or creative use of digital to do so. Or that every idea is used to reach Millennials when they might not even be the true target group for the product or service in question! 

The only thing these types of entries do is prove how much our industry tends to surf a trend or cling on to a buzzword without truly understanding the business challenges our clients face. Just because it's cool to target Millennials or use only digital media, doesn't necessarily mean it will help businesses reach their objectives.  

Brands spend money on media because they want to be considered, known, liked and talked about but integral to this, they want to be purchased and repurchased time and again. 
A creative media campaign is only as good as its results and how it impacts the clients’ bottom line. Too much back-slapping over clever creative and not enough focus on insight and results has caused media to become complacent and loose sight of the client’s original goal.  

I’m particularly pleased that Data is a new Media Lions category for 2016 as this will hopefully have helped to focus agencies on a results-driven approach, showing how data can be used to extract insight and drive results. But there’s also three new Branded Content & Entertainment categories and I'm curious to see how far the Insights & Results pieces of the equation are covered in these categories.  

Overall, I would love to see an increase in the number of brands who have turned something unexpected into media with great effect. The nice thing about the media jury is that we look at all types of media, in isolation and also the combined effect of different media touchpoints. True creativity in media execution comes from how well you can use even traditional forms of media to reach the brand goal, not the fact that you built a Facebook page for the brand and got 5,000 likes. So what? Show me what it did for your clients objective.  

I’d also love to see more brands who have figured out how to engage with consumers beyond their product benefits with true human insight, demonstrating that they understand our lives and contribute to our society as a whole. 

This may take the form of brands attaching themselves to social causes that fit perfectly within their brand DNA and which, as a result, has helped them to amplify their brand purpose whilst making a real difference to people’s lives. 

I'm really looking forward to reviewing the many exciting cases at Cannes this year. And if I see any standouts, you’ll be hopefully hearing about them too as Lions winners!

Maria Garrido, Havas Media Group’s Global Chief Insights and Analytics Officer, will be among the judges deliberating on the 2016 Media Lions.

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