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Reflections on the Cannes Lions

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A version of this post originally appeared on EdelmanEditions.com.

The sun shone, the flags waved in the balmy wind and 12,000 people descended upon Cannes for the Lions this year. The good news was the sense of anticipation and celebration. The total pride and joy in watching creative work being heroed and awarded. The crowds of creative teams who worked together, agonised together, produced together and were now partying together. The bad news? Not many of these were PR people. We have several categories that are open to us but even the PR categories were dominated by the ad agencies. And deservedly so in many cases where we saw winning entries for “Dumb ways to die” from Melbourne based creative ad-agency, McCann. Our own amplification work contributed mightily to the biggest winner of all with Dove Sketches being awarded 15 gongs across several Lions and the ultimate Grand Prix in the Titanium Lions.

So what were my learnings? Firstly we have a good deal to learn from the Ad agencies. They properly embrace the opportunities that the Lions afford – from being driven to create stellar work to giving their teams permission to be brave, be noticeable and trail blaze. Secondly, I don’t use the word “afford” lightly. They invest in these awards – In the submissions and the production, using the same level of expertise for the entries as they do for the client work and in their attendance in Cannes. Thirdly, my goodness they are proud and loud! No false modesty here but high octane, high visibility show and tell – and that’s encouraged. It a wonderfully motivating thing to see. Finally the winning work often features a rich core of emotion, simplistically delivered, with powerful visuals. The stunt is back but now it’s experiential – engaging directly to audiences and giving compelling and shareable ammunition to be socialised, to be provocative or to be enjoyed.

And that is what hurt the most. PR people have this ability to create, tell and share stories deeply in our DNA. We know how to harness emotion, narrate, earn fame and drive action. It’s time for us to step up and commit to creating world class ideas not just amplifying them; to enjoy and relish going on a journey with our clients for creative fame and commercial success – and it’s time to shake off our behind the scenes mentality and take front of stage, find our voice and be ready to roar next year at The Lions.

Jackie Cooper is global chair of creative strategy.

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