It’s taken me about seven years, but I think I may finally have a grip on this “craft” thing.  I have been fortunate enough to be a juror at the Cannes Lions twice so far (hint, hint) and it has been among the most inspirational and educational experiences of my professional life.  The first time I was invited into Cannes Lions world, was seven years ago and I was the only PR person on a jury with 14 advertising people. 

On day one in the jury room, I became aware of a dimension of the discussions which was new to me.  My fellow jurors kept talking about “the craft”.  The first time I heard this was in reference to a poster for a headache treatment.   I had totally ignored this entry, but my fourteen peers thought it was terrific.  I listened closely to their discussions over that poster and then, as our jury deliberations continued, I heard more and more about craft as it related to other submissions. As the day progressed, I even asked some of my fellow jurors to explain it to me.

I left Cannes that year a little wiser, but I could not help feeling that “craft” was something of an esoteric concept that existed only within the advertising industry.  I thought it largely irrelevant for me and the work I do.  But, over the intervening years, my position has changed.  The way in which we craft the work we do, is important.  Carefully crafted work enhances a great idea, showcasing its brilliance and drawing the eye.  It is, if you like, as important as having just the right setting in which to place a fabulous gemstone. 

This year I was invited to join the Cannes Lions Pharma jury, reviewing work from both 2020 and 2021.  I was delighted to discover that in the intervening years, my appreciation and eye for craft has increased immensely.  I may not be on a par with many of my fellow jurors in that respect, but I think I am getting there.  I found myself considering the quality of illustration, the intelligence of art direction and the beauty of cinematography. 

Which is fortunate because there was a lot of exquisite craft on display in the winners of this year’s Pharma Lions.  There were heart-rending films and stunningly innovative animations, where the care with which they had been made shone through brilliantly.  There were some ingenious posters where the imagery brought the subject matter to life in a totally new, smart and emotive way. 

I realise that to deliver truly ground-breaking work, of course you need creativity.  And because this is health, empathy and emotion are table stakes.  But without craft, without paying equal attention to how you are telling your story, you will never change the world.  Whether you are telling that story in words, pictures or both, you overlook the importance (and dare I say ‘science’) of craft at your peril.

You can hear more from Edelman inside the Cannes Lion jury room from Judy John, Global Chief Creative Officer, Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis, Global Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Anthony Chelvanathan, Global Executive Creative Director & Carolyn Paul, EVP and EMEA Health Chair in a special post-judging session. Watch it here.