18 July 2009

Cannes Promo Lions Jury Experience: One Word - Unforgettable

Its probably the single most concentrated intellectually rewarding activity I have done. One week of intense and relentless intellectual stimulation took so much out of me.
The jury was constituted of 18 members. They were just names and faces to me less than 10 days ago. But now they are friends, whom I respect and like very much. Some of whom I hope to have as friends for the rest of my life... More about them later.
The jury process was rigorous and methodical. For a form of evaluation which had strong subjective and individual variations, the process worked hard to stay true to itself. For the large part and in the end result it was a very effective and efficient process. Certainly not foolproof but as close to that as possible.
Over a period of 5 days, I saw some inspired promotional marketing work. And some truly insipid work too! Interestingly, there was very little correlation between big/famous brands great promotions. Sadly, there were a few examples of entries purely for awards - borderline scam entries. It was not fun to have to go through entries that were so obviously done to be entered into award categories. But that must not take away from the majority of the entries which were well worth going through.
We spent the first 3 days in small groups short-listing the entries down to a smaller and manageable number. This stage was pain-staking and a bit tedious, I must admit. The latter 2 days were spent whetting the short-list and deciding on metals through some rigorous and deep discussion about each entry. These days were considerably longer and strenuous but more enjoyable. Listening to a truely international and varied view-point on promotional projects was brilliant.
Over and over, we ended up analysing entries to see whether they actually 'activated' the consumer. This was crucial to the Promo Lions category. We often ended up thinking - "I like that, but is it a promo?". Soon that become the joke of the jury and we ended up referring to everything around us with that phrase.
I've worked with a multitude of people from various countries on various fora, but this group of people comprised of some of the funniest and I enjoyed their company through the week that I spent at Cannes. Chris from South Africa was the one I spent the most time, despite being a Chelsea fan, he's pretty cool. I'm looking forward to seeing him at the world cup next year.
Pius, my friend from Zurich, thinks he's very funny and often is... (Pius, if you're reading this - you know you love my jokes - admit it!). Janice the youngster from Toronto, it was fun watching how the other half live with you.. We will always remember the 'the canadians' as her favourite project.
Figuring out where to go for dinner every night was an interesting little exercise. Johannes (from Berlin/Stuttgart) wanted to go to a place where we had already been. Very conservative. While Tito (from Buenos Aires) and the rest of us wanted to try something new every night.. The German stood no chance - I think we made him a little more adventurous in the week that we were there. Tito and I loved our Haagen Daas ice-cream after dinner and by the end of it everyone else did too...
The jury sessions culminated in a shortlist and winners list (you can have a look at the Promo Lions at www.canneslions.com). There was a press conference in front of journalists from all over the world and just sharing the stage with such a group of professionals was a thrill. The awards night itself went by in a flash and it was a strange feeling to know exactly what winners were going to be announced and watching the audience reaction.

Suddenly, I felt completely useless. The last week had been so focussed and result-oriented. We were treated like royalty by the Cannes organising team and as friends by some like Maureen. Half Chilean-half Portuguese, she was the most amazing coordinator of anything I've ever met. Of course, it helped that she's really pretty and funny.
Cannes and the jury work at the advertising festival was an unforgettable experience and I loved it. Fortunately for me, I wasn't crash-landing back home to work... I was off on a 2-week driving holiday!

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