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1 July 2015

How a golden lion gives permission to reach for the stars

Written by: Jackie Cooper, Senior Advisor at Edelman


It’s a week ago that I was in the green room at the Cannes Lions with Jamie Oliver and Richard Edelman as we prepped for their session in the main auditorium. There was a feeling of show business mixed with ambition at Cannes and the challenge is to deliver an experience on the stage that is more than having a famous person in the chair. While I am biased regarding Jamie (I sit on his board) and Richard (I sold my company to him and he is my boss…!) their session was indeed entertaining but also informative and provocative. Jamie is a man on a mission and his whole organisation is geared up to engage in noisy dialogue around better diet, kids’ health and the sheer love of cooking great food. Richard is also on a mission – leading this extraordinary company of 5,500 to continually trail blaze and set the agenda for communications marketing. What struck me as I stood in the wings of the stage listening to the audience laughing and responding is that with passion and hard work, truly anything is possible.

The hope of winning a Lion at Cannes turbo-charges our permission to create amazing work. We saw how anything is possible with the raft of campaigns that harnessed passions and moved opinions. From the super smart safety truck for Samsung out of Argentina to the haunting holograms for freedom from Madrid, the empty statues dressed in clothing of victims for the anti-gun campaign for Illinois – these campaigns wrapped themselves around your heart before reaching your head. All of human life was represented in the award submissions: safety, medical issues (and fantastic to see the epic ALS campaign get Lion recognition), education, diversity – a plethora of purpose.

Our six Lion wins made all of us so proud. The Gold win for Adobe Photoshop’s Murder Mystery campaign was a dream come true for the team led by Tom Parker who is always telling me we need to celebrate the work – well we certainly did!

The challenge is to bring this back to our daily lives when we are away from the Croisette – when our clients are also back in reality. The call of the Lion liberates us to move the needle and concentrate on elevating our creative delivery. This must be present every day if we are to deliver work that truly starts movements and fundamentally makes a difference. We ran a competition open to all our staff to win a ticket to Cannes. The price of entry? A great idea. This initiative not only gave permission to create but opened the world of ideas for any client they wanted. Our winners were amazing and acted as roving reporters for the week as well as totally loving the whole Cannes experience. But more than that we have now have a treasure trove of ideas from all our entrants that we will be reaching out to clients with – the only agenda being a passion for their business and a creative solution that comes with a ton of heart and a dose of smart.

Lions CEO Phil Thomas tells me they have data that shows that winning at Cannes increases business wins for agencies. If you show your mettle by winning the metal that is indeed both compelling and reassuring for clients. And so let’s keep the pull of the Lions present every day – the only restrictions are the ones we put on ourselves.

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