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From Cannes With Intel

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After three-and-a-half days of viewing, discussing, re-viewing, and debating, I wanted to share some of my key learnings and experiences of being a judge at Cannes this year.

I had the privilege of being a jury member for the Creative Data category, a relatively new category at Cannes, and one that certainly provides agencies with great award opportunities in the years to come. There were over 700 entries in this category, a strong sign that data is now playing a role in creative development and has established its place at the creative table.

One observation I would make is that because Creative Data is a newer category, few have 100 percent cracked it. Some entries nailed the creative idea, but the data component was weak. Others had very powerful use of data, but the connection to the creative idea was tenuous. We judges were looking for a campaign or idea that demonstrated a strong marriage between data/tech usage and creative ideas. Something where data informed or supported a creative idea but didn’t take over or constrain the creativity, and one where the idea was backed with convincing evidence of its impact and success. This measurement needed to go beyond media metrics (e.g., 100K likes, 80 percent positive sentiment) to demonstrating a distinct behavioral change or a strong business outcome.

Here are a few themes that appeared across the winning entries:

  • From story-telling to story-doing – Marriot Hotels, Care Counts, Reword
  • Data for good – Reword, Care Counts, AI Buddy
  • Data made tangible – “Meet Graham” was a multi-award winner at Cannes
  • The rise of AI – IBM Watson became a recurring guest at the jury table
  • Innovative data collection methods – Sberbank Neighbourhoods, Care Counts
  • Campaigns that made us smile – Young Pope Aimen, Google Home of the Whopper

Thinking about entries for next year:

Don’t enter every category and hope that you might win one: With 11 sub-categories in Creative Data, those who entered all 11 categories with the same submission became less and less popular as the judging continued (a bit like seeing the same ad over and over again).

There is a specific definition for each category, and if an award entry didn’t meet these criteria it went to the bottom of the pile. If you are looking to enter an award, make sure you are clear on exactly what the category or sub-category is looking for and only enter a submission that meets those criteria.

Success is in the impact: This is true from a submission perspective (e.g., writing a compelling entry) and from a campaign measurement perspective. Long lists of media metrics (e.g., number of likes, engagement, etc.) are now added at the end of every award, but a) without context it is impossible to tell if these numbers are good; and b) these don’t demonstrate any behavioral change. Did consumers/businesses do something as a result of exposure to the campaign?

Keep it real: The jury were quick to pick up on any entries that felt fake or gimmicky. There must be a purpose or an obvious connection between the campaign and the essence of the brand. If the jury couldn’t see the point, the entry received no points.

Catriona Muspratt-Williams is head of Edelman Intelligence in APAC.

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