Kicking off at Cannes 2018

It’s the day before the week of The International Festival of Creativity 2018   and tomorrow from across the world an estimated 16,000 people from 4,700 companies will descend upon the beautiful French town of Cannes. Now in it’s 65th year, the Cannes Lions once again promise to impress, delight and most importantly educate its attendees on all things Creativity.

The Cannes Lions is considered “The” premiere advertising awards festival globally. Winning a Lion is the ultimate in recognition, with many examples of winning work elevated to the ranks of Cultural Importance.

At the end of the 2017 festival, there was much criticism from major players about the future viability of the event. Considered too expensive, too complicated, too networking focused and lacking the view on long term brand building, the festival itself was being questioned by its once loyal supporters.   When marketers and agencies are complaining about value for money at what is considered the worlds best junket, you know something is seriously wrong.  To make a public stand, Publicis committed to non-participation for 2018, refusing to enter work or even attend (a decision they revisited,  with over 90 staff set to attend and 400 pieces of work submitted by the clients for contention).  Organisers went back to the drawing board, something they’ve done numerous times over the years, to adapt its very structure to create a more simplified version.

This year, there is a revised focus across 9 content tracks: Reach, Comms, Craft, Experience, Innovation, Impact, Good, Entertainment and Health.   They’ve removed over 120 sub-categories and completely removed 3 full categories – Cyber, Integrated and Promotions/Activations. Changes that reflect the rapidly shifting nature of the industry it represents.   “The changes for 2018 are perhaps more radical and exciting than we’ve seen in the last few years.” Simon Cook, director of creative excellence at Cannes Lions.

“The tracks were formed in consultation with the industry, and we feel it will better reflect the way the industry actually works,” Cook said.


Often considered a career highlight, the judging at the festival brings with it a weight of responsibility for those hand-picked to deliberate over the work. This year’s re-categorisation seeks to ensure “we can get a highly specialist jury of craftspeople to really get into the nitty-gritty of that work,” said Cook.

With many shortlists still yet to be revealed (at time of writing), we can see a few themes running through this year’s contenders.

The Story: Epic, visual and personal are all techniques used in these story-telling favourites, designed to pull the consumer into a new world, question their own perspectives to relate and think about things in a different way.

A couple to watch out for:

National Safety Council “Prescribed to Death” // Energy BBDO (Chicago, USA)

Nike “Nothing Beats a Londoner” // Wieden + Kennedy (London, UK)


Diversity: In the new era of Me-Too and Post Trump, it’s no surprise that many brands have chosen to make a statement by taking on the issue of diversity, through discussion of race or gender – or both!

A couple to watch out for:

REI // Force of Nature

EDEKA “The Most German Supermarket” // Jung von Matt (Hamburg, Germany)

Data, Artifical Intelligence & All Things Tech

This is going to be a big one, with increasing chatter about to how new levels of data can inform creativity and context. Innovation sits at the heart of this, with many seminars dedicated to unlocking new thinking.

A couple to watch out for:

Mars NZ – Pedigree “Pedigree SelfieSTIX” // Colenso BBDO (Auckland, New Zealand)

The ALS Association – Project Revoice // BWM Denstsu

At the Speed of Culture

Always a favourite given the topical and tactical nature of this space, many brands are now focusing on finding a way to connect with consumers via culture. Leveraging connection this way helps break down barriers and place brands at the heart of what interests people at any one moment.  So many brands try this approach, but only a few truly nail it.

A couple to watch out for:

Orange Telecom “Now or Never” // FP7/CAI (Cairo, Egypt)

Burger King “Scary Clown Night” // LOLA MullenLowe (Madrid, Spain)

Each day I’ll dive into these areas one by one to give you the low-down on what’s happening on the ground and who won what. I’ll also be including my Top 3 daily wrap up, so stay tuned for more!






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