Why the Cannes Lions Are Important

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Bob Garfield wrote a passionate article today about why he thinks Cannes is dead. Although I agree with Bob that many of the ads that have been celebrated at Cannes don’t represent the future of advertising, I don’t believe for one second that Cannes is dead.

The last year has been a rough year in advertising and this coming year is likely to be just as bad or worse, but I don’t feel this has left a gaping void in advertising. It only left a gaping void if you’re staring in the same direction you were last year and the years before that. We’ve all recognized that digital has been a catalyst for a massive change in the way we market, but our industry’s biggest challenge, after dealing with technological and cultural implications of our new wired world, has been learning how to deal with a world in a true global recession. It’s not just our budgets that have been reduced or shifted, but the consumer has fundamentally changed.

Like those that had lived through the great depression, the people that are experiencing this global recession are learning the value of frugality and economic maturity that comes with these experiences. It’s forcing us, as marketers, to evolve our message in conjunction with the way we’re delivering our message.

Broadcast, print and radio will continue to suffer as it becomes increasingly hard to be innovative in these mediums, especially when you compare each to the digital or any of the other emerging media channels. With that said, and in support of what I believe Bob is really looking for, watch the Titanium and Integrated short list. These lists will feature fully integrated campaigns and the most exciting marketing innovations where agencies demonstrate how they’ve evolved in this significantly different environment since the Lions in 2008.

I’ve always been firmly entrenched in the digital and emerging media world and believe that all major award shows are in a state of transition. From what I’ve seen, the Lions are more in touch with the digital world than all the other awards including the Clios, One Show or D&AD awards, which are miles behind on digital. Combine that with their international jury system that prevents any one country (like the US or UK) from swaying the vote and I believe you have a better chance of real global work pushing itself to the top.

Crispin certainly does get more then there fair share of attention at Cannes, but my hat is off to them, as they’re not only willing to explore any new medium as a form of advertising but in my opinion will also inspire others to try something new, bend the rules, and challenge conventional thinking. The shift I in work is happening already, although not quick enough in my opinion, and I’m just interested to see how Crispin will like sharing the spot light. Hopefully we’ll have another great winner like UNIQLO this year. My hopes are on Nitro’s “Best Job In The World” campaign.

Like any festival you have to get past the “creative masturbation,” after which you will find out that there is still some great work being done out there. Some festivals are going to survive this transition and I for one will be putting my money on the Lions. In the meantime I look forward to my time at Cannes this year. The main party might be a kegger on the beach or they may end up serving Natural Light and Cheese Doodles at the Calton. I’m not sure I care. The bottom line is that I’m still going to get to run into some of the best and brightest creative minds in the industry – and while I’m there, instead of discussing the industry’s doom, I’m going to talk about the things we can do to change the industry and discuss new and innovate ways to connect with consumers.

Maybe this recession is just the taste of reality we all needed.

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Freddie Laker

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A veteran digital marketer with experience working with some of the world's biggest global brands. He now focuses on providing interim leadership to PE-backed firms.

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