Karen Blackett on being a Cannes Lions judge
To win a Titanium or Integrated Lion,
the work has to be brilliant in five key ways, says Karen
Some in the creative community were
outraged that a media person could be on a creative jury, let alone
on the ultimate creative jury.
Clearly there are some in our industry
who are still stuck in the 1980s where media is reduced to a
spreadsheet at the end of a "creative" presentation and who quite
frankly need to exit left.
What's lost on these poor relics is
that that how, when, where and why your audience sees a piece of
content is as important as the content itself. Everything is media,
and the context in which the story is told is key.
That aside. I have learnt a huge
amount sitting on a jury of the most brilliant, creative and
modern minds for the past week:
1. Just because you can, it
doesn't mean you should
This year saw a number of entries where entrants were excited to
demonstrate their data prowess. Data muscles were flexed, but where
entries fell short, the vital missing ingredient was the
We can do amazing things by harnessing
the power of data but unless we are able to answer a genuine
consumer need, we should leave well alone.
Data should not simply be a way to do
cleverer but seemingly useless stuff. Data should be used to unlock
those game changing consumer insights that will allow us to do
things at scale and fast.
We saw this with MARS' Hungerithm
entry, which saw the price of Snickers change based on consumer
involvement. It was a great partnership with 7 Eleven and had
2. Brands can grow and do
good, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive
There is a lot of debate in our industry about "brands with
purpose". Is it just a gimmick? I have seen amazing examples this
week where brands genuinely care about their consumers. They have
used their brand influence to help improve their lives.
Purpose is only a gimmick if the brand
imposes their own story rather than reflecting their consumers'
story, demonstrating a lack of understanding and, crucially,
respect for their consumer.
Brands can grow and make a profit, but
they really can do good along the way. They can make people feel
like they belong.
3. Integrated is more than
The official definition for an Integrated Lion is: "Entries that
demonstrate holistic excellence; that is work that has been
executed across multiple media, incorporating an idea into diverse
environments such that it is enriched by each."
Our jury went further. True
integration is where your brand can integrate into culture and
Yes, use multi-media. Yes, make sure
the execution reflects the medium. Yes, make sure your content is
feed ready and feed relevant, but go deep and aim to integrate into
Again, Boost Mobile's "Boost your
voice" was a great example of this, inserting its retail outlets
into a wider debate about voting rights in the US.
4. Burst the
The work that took my breath away, was brilliantly defined and
articulated by Chloe Gottlieb as "work that the world has heard",
and the jury needed to listen.
The work that has transcended our ad
Industry bubble and has lived and breathed beyond the echo chamber
of ad land is transformative work.
This work has made a difference to how
we think and what we do. "Fearless girl" from State Street Global
Advisors and their "She Fund" is game-changing and sets a template
for the future.
5. We can
There were genuine laugh-out-loud moments in the judging room,
work that just made you really smile. Yes, the work led to
increased basket size or repeat purchase or improved brand salience
and awareness, but also left their audience with a smile on their
Let's face it, in the current climate
we could all do with a few more laugh-out-loud moments.
Never forget how brands can bring joy.
The Child Replacement Programme for Pedigree created by Mars NZ
made me laugh out loud, as did The Cheetos Museum Campaign.
PS 50:50 juries work
It was a huge pleasure to judge the Titanium and Integrated Lions
with some amazing, pioneering, talented and brave industry
There were 10 people on the jury
comprised of five women and five men: Tham Khai Meng; Gustavio
Lauria; Nils Leonard; John Mescall; Nizan Guanaes; Chloe Gottlieb;
Kate Stanners; Jaime Robinson; and Jane Lin-Baden.
There is no doubt that the men in the
room are incredibly creative, smart, funny, thoughtful and with
absolutely no ego.
What I also loved were the smart,
strong, passionate and decisive women in the room. There was
genuine respect in the room for the opinion of others. I have made
new friends for life.
Our final list of winners was shaped
by the inclusiveness I felt and saw in the room. It was powerful. I
am humbled that I was part of it.
The 2017 Titanium & Integrated
Jury, it has been a total blast.
First published in
Campaign 27 June 2017.