Simon Vicars’ Cannes Diary #1

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Simon Vicars’ Cannes Diary #1

Simon Vicars, chief creative officer at Colenso BBDO is representing New Zealand as jury president on the Cannes Audio & Radio Lions jury. Vicars, along with most of the NZ and Australian jurors, writes exclusively for CB.


If you’re here for something cleverly written – where the opening theme is satisfyingly revisited and wrapped up at the end, you should leave.

Yesterday in the judging room was long, and today will be longer.

We went two hours over our finish time during the shortlist day. Credit to our Cannes team in the room, there was no pressure to rush. Credit to my jury, we respected every piece. Our shortlist was too long. 118 in total. In the end we removed 42 entries.

A jury president doesn’t have voting privileges (only tie breakers need my input). This gave me a unique view of the jury room.

Here’s what I observed:

Cannes is steering the ship away from purpose. The instructions couldn’t have been clearer. They started that move last year, but there is clearly a long tail of sadvertising still in the system. Creativity that drives commercial return has returned. Don’t despair, world savers. If your brand actually commits to purpose and has a natural role in that cause, juries still love you. But the microscope is out.

What did the agency contribute to the idea? We saw some incredible audio innovation, but we dug deep to find the agency’s role in the work.

You all know this one, but a tired jury room love great comedy. If it’s funny on the radio, it’ll be even funnier to a cooped up jury.

Aussies and Kiwis know this one painfully well: brands with global awareness help elevate your idea to the top of the pile. Budweiser, Mercedes, McDonald’s etc. Because there’s a shorthand to understanding it. And because a big brand really committing to creativity is hot. If you’re a local brand, your idea must swing for the fences. Personally, I like that challenge.

If your work fits brilliantly in a subcategory, it’ll be rewarded for that. If it doesn’t, it’ll be burned to the ground and we will dance in the flickering shadows.

Winning is hard. It’s a lesson I get reminded of every time I’m on a jury. The volume of entries is huge. The benchmark is high. The viewpoints are varied. God speed.