Creativity and PR at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, held each June in Cannes, France, is perhaps the major celebration of creativity in communications. For decades, the festival recognized the most creative advertising films, and over time it expanded to include advertising in other forms of media. In 2009, the festival added the PR Lions to its prestigious awards, honoring creative public relations programs. For the 2011 Cannes PR Lions, agencies and PR professionals registered more than 1,300 campaigns, and 850 entries arrived at the final stage to be voted on by 16 jurors and one president. Ketchum had a strong presence at this year’s festival — with an exclusive sponsorship of the Young Marketers Competition and Ketchum Italy’s president and CEO Andrea Cornelli serving as one of 16 jurors for the PR Lions.
Here, Cornelli shares his reflections on creativity and PR from Cannes, and we highlight excerpts from a post on the Ketchum Blog from David Gallagher, CEO of Ketchum’s Europe operation, Ketchum Pleon, who discusses the creative talent exhibited at the Young Marketers Competition.
Andrea Cornelli, President and CEO Ketchum Italy, on the role of creativity in judging the Cannes PR Lions:
First, it is important to understand the role of PR in a festival like Cannes, which until recently was exclusive to advertising. In my opinion, there was a huge gap between the concept of PR present in most of the presented campaigns and the concept of PR supported by the majority of the jurors. In some cases, the same campaigns that presented with great success in the direct or media awards, for example, were evaluated very low for the PR awards.
All the jurors agreed on the fundamental concepts: a campaign — to be judged as successful — should be able to change the thinking and behavior of its target audience; measurable results must be proportionate with the investments; the campaign should be ethical; and it should have a development perspective and the possibility of continuity.
But how important are the creative aspects, the winning ideas that turn a beautiful campaign into a unique one? Those elements that are not easily measurable but that really leave a mark? In many cases, these creative aspects were brought in by other parts of the communication world, and the majority of jurors seemed to view it as an invasion of the territory of PR. I am convinced that if the public had been able to vote, more creative, integrated campaigns would have ruled the day. However, I think that year after year PR juries will become increasingly aware of how public relations is changing and will vote for more and more campaigns that are full of great creative ideas, presented with high-level movies that are able to tell very clearly and simply what a great result they delivered in return for a reasonable and sustainable investment.
David Gallagher, Senior Partner and CEO, Ketchum Pleon and Chairman, London, on Ketchum’s sponsorship of the Cannes Lions Young Marketers Competition:
Turnabout is fair play, they say, and I have to admit it was more than a little satisfying to be on the other side of client presentations for a change.
The Cannes Lions Young Marketers Competition saw two-person teams from client organizations from 17 countries competing to produce the perfect brief. Each team qualified by winning its national competitions, making Cannes something like the Olympics of marketing communications.
The assignment was no walk on the beach. Each team was given two days to develop a concept for a new product or service its company could launch locally or internationally, with the profits to go to a fitting charitable cause. Then they had to write a two-page brief for a marketing communications agency, supplemented by a presentation not to exceed eight slides. The briefs, for the most part, were clear, directive and inspirational.
The whole idea was to teach up-and-coming marketing rock stars how to get the best out of their agencies, and I think we (1) got more than our money's worth with the sponsorship, (2) would be thrilled to work with just about any of them as their agency, and (3) should be gratified to see how many of them saw earned media as essential in their briefs (13 of 17, to be exact).
Note: The campaigns described below are conceptual only and are not real campaigns that are being implemented.
The bronze winners were Team Brazil, from the country's dominant processed food company, Sadia. The new product: a line of healthy, nutritious soups called Warm Hug, with profits going to benefit Brazil's leading homeless assistance NGO, Plate of Soup.
The silver went to one I personally thought was inspired. Team Belarus, from beer and soft drinks maker Heineken, developed a Goodberry and cranberry drink made from cranberries from the countries eroding and endangered wetlands area, with proceeds going to Wetlands International.
And the winner: Team Philippines from Del Monte, the food and beverage manufacturer. Their product concept: a new juice cocktail made from mangos, papayas and pineapples, all harvested from the Mindanao region, long tormented by internecine war among Catholics, Muslims and indigenous tribes. The profits go to the Mindanao Peoples Caucus, dedicated to establishing peace in the area. Three juices, one drink, for peace among the three peoples.
For more on the Young Marketers Competition, visit the Cannes Lions website.