Live from Cannes: Why it really doesn’t matter what kind of agency enters the Cannes Media Lion

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One of the more traditional grumbles about the Cannes Lions tends to be the accusation of ‘category creep’ – basically the practice of agencies or clients entering work into multiple categories to increase their chances of winning. It’s particularly common in the Media Lions where almost half of the entries in this year’s shortlist were from creative agencies and it’s not uncommon when walking around the display areas in the basement to see work shortlisted in the Media Lions pop up again in integrated Lions, PR Lions or Outdoor Lions.

My personal view is you can get grumpy or defensive about this or you can celebrate the fact that the Media Lions celebrate almost everything and anything being a media channel (a brilliant thing if you’re a media planner!) and that media creativity comes from everywhere. I’m firmly in the second camp. It’s hard to find a single shortlisted entry in the Media Lions that isn’t also a brilliant PR story but that’s how it should be. Who wouldn’t want their media to be seen, talked about and part of culture?  And isn’t PR-ability then a hugely important factor?

Equally who wouldn’t want their media to be creative? And does it matter if that creativity comes from an ad agency?

It’s also said that the Media Lions focus on stunts and ideas over results and while it’s true to say that they’re not the IPA effectiveness awards (probably the truest thing that’s ever been said in fact…) and that one or two of the entries demonstrate that just because you can do something it doesn’t mean that you should (a DVD which heats up and emits a pizza smell when placed in your DVD player?) the best ones combine an innovative idea with a genuine insight into how people behave.

So for example Nawras, a Dubai based broadband network, recognised that people are in the habit of ‘piggybacking’ locations to access their Wifi (Google’s Creative Sandbox out here is brilliant for lots of reasons including this one) and used this insight to deliver a timely, witty and relevant message to customers. I don’t know how many sales they put on as a result but I do know that thinking creatively about ‘media’ in this way is something we should probably all be doing.

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Posted By David Wilding, Head of Planning

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