My time on the Cannes Lions Festival PR Jury this year was everything I thought it would be, and more. Reviewing the best work from across the globe was a privilege. The jury room laughed and cried while we moved through hundreds of case films from every corner of the planet. And from the 2,208 total PR entries, Fearless Girl was awarded the PR Grand Prix for 2017, and it went on to win the same prize in other categories throughout the week, culminating in the Grand Prix Titanium win.
On the whole, all of the predictions going into the Cannes Lions came true. And, pleasingly, the power of earned was recognized and awarded across the Festival. There was definitely a positive step-change this year in the way that PR was viewed and awarded. There is no doubt that, as an industry, this is our time. But this year proved once more that we need to move with more pace to be the lead ideas agency for clients.
Below are my top 10 reflections from the jury room and the week that was. (To see the work mentioned in each section, visit the Cannes Lions site and register for free.)
1. Ferris Wheels. In our complex and tech-driven world, simple analog ideas won in the PR category. Maybe this is a sign of the times, and that we are all in need of beautifully crafted simple ideas to inspire and move us. But don’t be fooled. From Snapchat’s ferris wheel taking poll position in front of the Palais, to the great programming in the beach venues from the media and tech brands, there was no doubt again this year that technology continues to disrupt. Work to see: Cheetos Museum; Dinner with Georgia; Nuggs for Carter.
2. Trump and IBM Watson. As I lost count of the amount of entries that used Trump as inspiration or tension for ideas and IBM Watson shaping creative insights and concepts, at one point in the jury room I thought that these two needed their own categories this year. Work to see: Boost Your Voice; Impossible Signing Session
3. Celebrate the Shortlist. I know that metal counts. But getting work onto a shortlist at Cannes is a major achievement. Only 10 percent of entries (228) made it onto the PR shortlist this year. Competition is tough on this global stage. Take time out to celebrate the shortlisted work. Work to see: Premmie Proud; 58 Soul Rider
4. The World Needs Brave Brands. We need to continue to be fearless and help our clients find the bravery to play their part in solving major societal issues. Our industry can help find ways for business to act with purpose and commitment, and we have an increasing responsibility to do so and fast. Work to see: Unsafety Check; Brutal Cut
5. Bolder and Broader Social Issues. This year we saw brands taking on much broader social issues. It was pleasing and encouraging to Work to see: conversations and stories around all forms of diversity, inclusion and equality. Work to see: Down Syndrome Answers; Care Counts; Kiss the Kremlin
6. The Great Reveal. We have always Work to see:n an uprising in creativity in tough economic, political and social times. From the work we saw this year, there is no doubt that the countries best known as the more traditional creative centers-of-excellence are being challenged for that prize. We also saw a trend of “reveal storytelling” where work disrupted with cut-through. Work to see: The DNA Journey; Like My Addiction
7. The Internet of Things. We saw more and more campaigns in the PR category that used a physical or tangible item that became the cornerstone of the idea. Whether it was a bronze statue of a young girl defiantly staring down the bull on Wall Street or a mechanical pepper grind for the family dinner table that disabled nearby Wi-Fi devices to get kids off their screens at meal time, we saw campaigns that used smart and simple “things” to earn engagement and conversation online and offline. Work to see: Dolmio Pepper Hacker; Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk
8. Australia Still Punching High. Yes, I loved seeing the Australian work! My home country continues to punch way above its weight when it comes to simple and beautiful ideas and storytelling. Work to see: Rider-less Bike; Meet Graham
9. My Best Advice for the PR Category: Get your case film in shape. Make it attention-grabbing early on and tell your campaign story clearly and simply. Don’t dismiss the results section; include measurable business impact as well as campaign outputs. Choose your category wisely; again this year we saw work that should have been entered into other categories, where it would have done better in the competition, and there are still surprisingly limited entries in some categories. Here are examples of outstanding ideas brought to life in their entry films — humor works – enjoy! Work to see: Spanish Lessons; Pitching French Films in Hollywood
Michelle Hutton is the chief operating officer of Edelman Europe.