I've just spent 60 hours in the proverbial Cannes basement.
It's traditional to bemoan the conditions in which jurors suffer
in Cannes. Yes, it might be nicer playing volleyball on the beach
but professionally there's nothing to beat it. I've come away
inspired and determined to push harder in the years to come.
The Grand Prix Winner "Beyond Money" really demonstrates what
Entertainment Lions can be and was agreed unanimously by a jury
that was truly representative of our industry, with media, talent,
production, creative, music and brand professionals all in the
What we learned from this Santander campaign is that
entertainment can be truly transformational for brands-even the
most challenged brands operating in some of the most challenging
times. Spain was one of the countries hardest hit by the global
financial crisis and it's hugely impressive that a bank found a way
through entrenched consumer resistance. This wasn't just a great
piece of work for Santander. It moved the entire category
My five key learnings from my jury experience were:
Looking at all the work that was awarded the top prizes,
authenticity was at their core. Not only was the content
beautifully crafted, it felt authentic and true to the brand. The
Lion winner "All That We Share" by Danish broadcaster TV2 was a
perfect example of this. So many pieces of work tried to address
the 'we have more in common' theme but TV2 managed to do it in a
way that felt real and believable and was true to the brand.
When there is so much competition, you have to stand out.
Whether it's the story or the way in which it's presented, we
wanted to see something that genuinely moved us. Gold winners "Love
Song By a Murderer" and "Evan" are perfect examples. They shocked
the jury to the core in how they crafted the narrative. They had us
talking for days and it's no surprise that both had such an impact
on their markets.
Great entertainment is all about storytelling. It can be an
incredibly powerful story but if the delivery falls short, it won't
get recognized. The question brands should be asking themselves is,
will people interrupt what they're doing to give you the time?
Would they pay for it because it's so good? Nowhere is this more
obvious than in double gold winner "Lo and Behold" which was a
branded entertainment piece pulled off by an internet security
company. Let that sink in for a minute.
When you're evaluating so much great work, you have to look
beyond the surface and ask the hard questions. We liked the work,
but did it deliver for both the brand and the consumer? More
importantly, and this is where we separate the best from the rest,
was the overall result better than the sum of its parts? If the
answer is yes, and it's rare, then you're likely to be a winner.
Beyond Money is a perfect example of this.
One of the most critical components of brand marketing is
crafting and communicating a clear and distinctive positioning.
That positioning should come through everything the brand does and
branded entertainment is an extension of that. While it's tempting
to attach a brand to some of the biggest and culturally relevant
topics, it's important to ask the question: Is this consistent with
how we communicate our position in all areas? At times it felt that
some brands wanted to be everything to everyone and in the end only
confused and weakened their position. Own something that people
know you for and will believe. If not, you risk being seen as
trying to capitalize on something that doesn't belong to you.
So where does the industry go from here? Hopefully this year's
winners send a message to the industry about the art of the
possible. In a world where consumers are increasingly hard to
reach, branded entertainment has the ability to capture and
More importantly, in a world where consumers are more interested
in what you stand for than what you sell, this genre is going to be
king. Can any brand afford to sit on the sidelines? I don't think
Article was written for Adweek "Cannes Lions" feature, presented by
theTradeDesk, June 23, 2017.