Cannes Lions: The International Festival of Creativity takes place this year from 20th-24th June in the iconic resort town on the French Riviera. Renowned, of course, for the highlight of the movie industry, the International Film Festival, Cannes has been home to the International Festival of Creativity since 1954.
Carl Witton, partner and Chief Growth Officer at Tangram, looks at the importance of Cannes Lions and takes a walk down memory lane of past festivals.
History of the Cannes Lions Festival
The annual Cannes Lions gathering has been championing creative excellence for almost 70 years. The festival is recognized as the most important event of its kind, in the World. It was originally inspired by the Cannes Film Festival. Back in the day, movie screen advertising contractors who belonged to the Screen Advertising World Association wanted to recognize the makers of advertising films in a similar way to Moviemakers.
The inaugural event took place in 1954 in Venice, Italy. The top award back then was called the Lion Trophy and was inspired by the Lion of Venice sculpture which dominates the Piazza San Marco in the famous city of canals and bridges. This first event attracted 187 film entries from 14 different countries.
The second event a year later was held in Monte Carlo. It wasn’t until the third event that it was held in Cannes. For almost 30 years it alternated between Monte Carlo and Cannes until finding its permanent home in 1984.
Growth and Development
Over the years, new categories have been added, for example, Media Lions in 1999; Design Lions in 2008; Film Craft in 2010; and Creative Effectiveness in 2011. In the 1990s, the Cannes Lions added a program of learning in the form of workshops and seminars. These have grown steadily over the years.
Recognizing that the event was becoming somewhat unwieldy, it faced calls from within the industry to simplify the categories. It was felt that this would better reflect the current state of the modern communications industry. Festival organizers responded, and in 2018 costs were revised, seeing the event reduced from a 7-day festival to its current form of 5 days.
Cannes Lions 2022
Looking at the 2022 festival and beyond, Cannes Lions is determined to provide an annual forum for our industry to address the most pressing issues that the industry and indeed the world are facing. The organizers have placed sustainability right at the top of their thinking. They are committed to presenting a full sustainability agenda. Cannes Lions 2022 will be their most sustainable festival in history.
An impressive judging panel has been put together. It consists of 290 jury members from across the world. They represent the global industry’s leading talent from a diverse range of disciplines in creativity; the best of class in advertising. Initial stages of judging have been done remotely using the organization’s unique judging technology. However, jurors will, of course, come together in Cannes to complete the final stages of judging. They will award the Lions, as they have done since those very early days in 1954.
Cannes Lions pay enormous consideration when choosing their judges. The high caliber of the judging panels is matched by the high standards to which they are held. The judges view, vote, and discuss all entries before choosing their winner, silver, bronze or shortlist place only. A two-thirds majority is required for an entry to win a trophy. They award points on a scale of 1 to 9 in order to create their shortlists. Then, guided by the Jury President, they decide on whether each entry merits a gold, silver
The winners of the coveted Cannes Lions will be announced during the week at Five fabulous award ceremonies.
The Cannes Lions Fringe
Like all truly great festivals, fringe events have developed over the years. For many they are just as important as the official festival events. After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, the ever-popular Little Black Book & Friends Beach Party returns. Situated along Cannes’ famous Boulevard de la Croisette, the 2 km beach is the venue for the 11th party organized by LBB & their sponsors.
LBB co-founder says of the beach party, “When the LBB & Friends Beach launched in 2010, the beaches were used solely by the partners, spouses, and families of delegates. There were no giant structures or events taking place on the beach at all, apart from a few parties at night. We needed to run between the Palais des Festivals, villas in the hills, out-of-town restaurants, and various locations around town to catch up with colleagues and clients for meetings. We decided to try to invite everyone to us. With a few plucky sponsors who were game to save the vast amount of money they were spending to hire out villas, we found a beach and invited LBB members and the guests of sponsors.”
An Impressive Line-up of Guest Speakers
The list of guest speakers at Cannes Lions is as impressive as it is long. More than two hundreds speakers will be taking part in this year’s event. To give you an idea of the quality, here is just a few examples.
The Canadian actor, producer, screenwriter, and entrepreneur is known worldwide. He has been nominated for Golden Globe and Grammy awards for his work on the Deadpool film franchise. Reynolds has been recognized as one of the most creative people in business by both Fast Company and AdWeek. He is an award-winning marketer, creating amazing campaigns for Deadpool, Aviation Gin, Mint Mobile and the Match Group. Reynolds is co-owner of Aviation Gin, Mint Mobile, Wrexham Football Club, Chief Creative officer of MNTN, and a co-founder of Maximum Effort, a production company and marketing firm.
Clark is the Global Chief Executive of Dentsu International, a leader in media, customer experience management, and creative solutions. She is also an Executive Officer of Dentsu Group Inc. and a member of the Dentsu international board. She was appointed in September 2020. Clark is leading Dentsu’s transformation to become the most integrated network in the world. It operates across 145 global markets, employing over 45,000 talented people. Before joining Dentsu, Wendy served as the CEO for DDB Worldwide. She was President of Sparkling Brands and Strategic Marketing for Coca-Cola North America. In addition, she was Senior Vice President, Advertising for AT&T.
Harr is a co-founder of Media.Monks, a digital-first marketing and advertising services company that connects content, data, digital media, and technology services across one global team. He also sits on the boards of SoDA (The Digital Society), The One Club, and S4Capital. Under his ongoing leadership, Wesley has sought to wage war on mediocre digital production – growing Media. Monks from a humble production house into an end-to-end creative and production partner.
He employs over 8,300 people across 57 talent hubs in 33 countries, the Media.Monks team works around the world to achieve unparalleled creative quality, recognized by their many Cannes Lions, FWA Awards, and their inclusion on the Ad Age Digital A-List.
Widely considered the greatest chess player of all time, Kasparov’s famous matches against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1996-97 were key to bringing artificial intelligence and chess into the mainstream. Today he is a prominent human rights activist as well as an author and speaker on politics, human rights, decision-making, and artificial intelligence. He is the chairman and founder of the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI) and author of the 2015 book: Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped.
The Young Lions competitions are a unique training program for all young brand communication professionals that develop their healthy ambition and ability to create excellent communications solutions. Normally it is reserved for those aged 30 years old and under. However, there is an exception for 2022, which means competitors born on or after 24 Jun 1990 will qualify.
This is the only platform where young professionals can rate their performance against their peers, develop their creative and personal excellence and accelerate their career development. The most driven come back every year to take a challenge again, discover more, learn more and succeed.
Young Lions are for everyone working in the communication industry. From newbies to seniors, from clients organizations to agencies to freelancers. Here in Vietnam, the Young Lions is a very vibrant organization. They state their mission to be “To search for the best young professionals under 30 to represent Vietnam in the Young Lions competitions at Cannes Lions and Young Spikes competitions at Spikes Asia.”
From my 1st time visiting Cannes Lions, I knew this was the main event globally for anyone involved with the industry. Creatives, brands, agency execs, tech vendors, and many more all head here for this event. The buzz is tremendous and it’s pure high-octane networking, you need a lion’s heart and a solid liver to manage the week-long event. It’s pretty much 24-hour days, meeting some of the industry’s amazing people. I take my hats off the Asia Pacific and Latin American guys, that fly in taking 24 hours to reach Cannes, hit the festival start networking hard, then fly 24 hours back to their home countries, hardcore.
The awards, the talks, the yacht parties, and pop-up beach events that go on are super interesting. They’re highly thought-provoking and just really good fun. However, for me, being at Cannes Lions it’s the networking that makes it. This surely is the industry Mecca. There are so many agency executives that I want to speak with, but so little time. It’s a balancing act between getting through the business while drinking copious amounts of Côtes de Provence Rosé and just enjoying the moment. It’s work and holiday and a marathon all rolled into one.
Parties and fun stuff aside, there is a really important side to Cannes Lions, whereby LIONS with over 65 years of experience in investment in creativity, drive business performance for creative companies and brands. The business value of award-winning creativity has been proven through multiple rigorous studies. Most recently, James Hurman and Peter Field completed the largest creative effectiveness study to date with LIONS and WARC, based on almost 5000 effectiveness award entrants and winners, including Creative Effectiveness Lions winners from 2011-2021.
The study found clear proof that high-quality creative work leads to long-term sales growth and brand building. From this research, James and Peter developed a new framework: The Creative Effectiveness Ladder, a tool that gives businesses a universal language and way to identify the six main types of effects produced by creative marketing. Click here to hear Jay Morgan, Andrea Stiac, Trevor Robison and other industry leaders explain their view of the ROI of entering and attending the Cannes Lions.
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