Wednesday, July 18, 2018
  • Thursday, Jul. 6, 2017
Cannes Lions' Creative Roar Resonates For Jury Presidents, Judges
PJ Pereira, co-founder and chief creative officer of Pereira & O’Dell, served as president of this year's Entertainment Lions jury at Cannes.
SHOOT revisits agency pros who were part of our Festival preview; they share lessons learned from this year's competition
  • LOS ANGELES
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In SHOOT’s preview (5/21) of this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, PJ Pereira, president of the Entertainment Lions jury, observed that when entering the judging room, “You’re there to learn in the name of the rest of the industry...You have to walk in with an open mind so that you allow the work to show you the potential of opportunities and possibilities you hadn’t imagined before. As judges we are not going to change the industry and the work. We are there to be changed and to tell the story of how we’ve been changed to the rest of the industry.”

Now SHOOT reconnects with Pereira, co-founder and chief creative officer of Pereira & O’Dell, to find out how he’s changed after he and his jury colleagues culled through 1,793 entries to award 78 Lions--12 Gold, 22 Silver, 43 Bronze, and the Entertainment Lions Grand Prix which went to Santander Bank’s Beyond Money directed by Kike Maillo via production company Oxigeno for MRM/McCann Spain. The sci-fi short centers on a woman who sells her memories, sparking a discussion about the value of money while at the same time offering entertainment appealing to Millennials at a time when banks, after the global financial meltdown, were extremely unpopular.

In fact, the overall campaign yielded a record number of new account openings for Santander, breaking through to a younger demographic with a 123 Smart account that offers experiences beyond money, including access to education programs and online training, and opportunity grants. The 17-minute film screened at theaters in Spain.

For Pereira, the Cannes judging experience--the second time he has headed a Lions jury; the first coming in 2005 as Cyber Lions jury president--reaffirmed his beliefs while opening his eyes to other key creative elements that go into successfully connecting with an audience.

Pereira said he walked away from Cannes with four criteria on which to best judge branded entertainment--two of which he knew all along, namely the need for the content to be entertaining and that the involved brand must be perfectly integrated with the entertainment. “Those two elements are a given,” said Pereira, adding that the second calls for a brand to be “unapologetic” about its involvement.

But the two other criteria, continued Pereira, were part of his discovery process during this year’s Lions judging--the need for commitment from the talent, and whether the entertainment showed the potential for true scalability. The latter, observed Pereira, means that an idea in whatever form presented for consideration could also be made into something different or larger in scale, such as a movie or TV series. “Even if the idea didn’t attain those things, to see that potential in the DNA of an entry was a good indication that you were dealing with a special, deserving piece of content,”

As for the commitment of talent, Pereira noted that the jury included professionals from different walks of the business---clients, movie producers, creative ad agencies and talent agencies. From the talent agency perspective, he found it essential for all talent--actors, directors, all involved artisans--to be passionate about the story in order to engage an audience.

All these factors applied to Santander Bank’s Grand Prix winner. Pereira related that the short film Beyond Money had a premise that could have translated into “an hour-long event or an amazing feature film. I would pay to watch it.”

As for the importance of talent, Pereira said that the lead actress in Beyond Money, Adriana Ugarte, is a major star in Spain, having given lauded performances in such films as Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta. “She brought big name entertainment credibility to the project [Beyond Money] and was a big part of how the idea was promoted,” commented Pereira. “She was more a headliner than a spokesperson and her performance showed a great belief in the story and its value.”

Another valuable lesson learned by Pereira during the course of his recent Cannes Lions judging was the dispelling of the notion that a commercial should not be considered branded entertainment. “Going in, we had to differentiate between an entertaining ad versus a piece of entertainment. An ad couldn’t be entertainment. But we saw ads that were so entertaining that they deserved consideration and recognition as branded entertainment.” He cited as an example the Silver Lion his jury bestowed upon the Samsung X Punchdrunk Theatrical VR Experience entered by PMK*BNC for Samsung, NY, and Punchdrunk, London. “It was clearly an ad for a VR headset. It had the structure of an ad. If it had been branded as a feature or short, we would have loved it. But we loved it anyway in its form as an ad, showing that something can be an ad and a piece of entertainment at the same time.”

In the big picture, Pereira was impressed with the quality of the Entertainment Lion entries this year. He cited the depth of the body of work, noting that even on the Bronze Lion level, each winner “pushed the industry forward in some way.” Across the board, all the recognized work attained a difficult balance--providing a meaningful return on the money brands are investing in as well as on the time consumers are spending with the content.”

Pereira concluded that it was “an honor and a privilege” to be on this year’s Entertainment Lions jury.” With the depth of talent not only of the judges but also the content they were judging, “I felt lucky to be in that jury room.”

Film Lions
Looking back on his recent experience as Film Lions jury president Pete Favat, chief creative officer of Deutsch North America, noted how thoroughly he and the judges bonded, despite his only knowing two of the other 15 jurors going into the proceedings. 

This bonding was nurtured in part by Favat himself who took the initiative from the outset by branding the group ahead of its first meeting, creating a logo for the Film Lions jury. “I wanted to do something to try to bring us together like a band of brothers. I created a logo based on motorcycle gangs. We made about a thousand stickers and placed them all around the Palais.”

Favat even wrote a mini-manifesto to accompany the logo, reading it on day one in the jury room. His message read, “We are a gang. Chosen to weed through the shite to seek out the gems. Not just any gems. The gems of the gems. We need to be tough. We need to be honest. We need to take this seriously. Collectively we are going to make a loud statement. And on Saturday night when the world sees what we have chosen, they will be judging us. Let’s enjoy each other these seven days we have together. Because we as a group, will never be together again. But we will always be a gang.”

This esprit de corps on the Film Lions jury held firm throughout the Cannes Lions Festival, starting with an introductory dinner. “From that point on, we even moved about like a gang, always connected,” said Favat.

Contributing to this close-knit dynamic was the size of the jury. Typically in the past Cannes had 23 to 25 people on the Film Lions jury. This year that number went down to 16, including Favat. Lions organizers this year made a concerted effort to make the juries smaller as a means to help ensure more meaningful debate.

Also spurring on lively debate was the composition of the Film Lions jury. “For most awards shows, when you’re picked to head a jury, you get to pick the jury members,” related Favat. “That’s not the case at Cannes where the jury is picked for you. The organizers did an amazing job of putting together balanced juries.”

Favat observed that this “balance” was reflected in the healthy number of women on the Film Lions jury. The women, he said, brought different perspectives along with “a sharp focus to the work we were curating” which helped to elevate the conversation to “an amazing level.”

Favat also set criteria to spur on meaningful conversation, with a concise mission statement for jurors to consider: “We are looking for provocative, brave, amazing stories. We will be rewarding clients and agencies for creating films that can push our industry, culture and humanity forward.”

More than meeting those criteria was Grand Prix winner “We’re the Superhumans,” a U.K. Channel 4 promo for its coverage of the Paralympics. Directed by Dougal Wilson of Blink for 4creative, London (Channel 4’s in-house creative agency), the piece features some 140 disabled individuals performing incredible feats. This Channel 4 anthem of empowerment was performed by The Superhuman Band, a 16-member ensemble of musicians with disabilities. The film was released in conjunction with the 2017 Paralympic Games.

Favat assessed that “We’re the Superhumans” simply “checked off all the boxes, promoting gender equality, diversity, a celebration of people with severe disabilities, the human spirit. The film was so well crafted and the story so good that it had everything. It was like two Grand Prixs in one. The jury used to give one Grand Prix for online, and one for TV. This work did the job of two.”

For the Film Lions jury, there was an embarrassment of riches in terms of uplifting stories that “pushed humanity forward,” including, said Favat, The New York Times campaign that featured the amazing work of journalists, and varied entries which underscored that “Nike is back.”

The Nike reference included the Gold Lion-winning “Unlimited Courage,” “Unlimited Will” and “Unlimited Youth” commercials directed by Max Malkin of PRETTYBIRD for Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Ore. 

For The New York Times, earning Gold Lion distinction were the spots “Denton” and “Hicks,” part of “The Truth Is Hard To Find” campaign directed by Darren Aronofsky of Chromista for Droga5, New York.

Favat also cited a Gold Lion-winning piece for France’s Burns and Smiles association out of TBWA\Paris. Directed by Nicolas Galoux via TBWA\ELSE, the film introduces us to an adult burn victim who goes out on Halloween night because it’s the one time of the year he can walk in public without eliciting public stares, pity or fear. Titled Halloween, the short demonstrates the extent to which other people’s attitudes and sense of acceptance are two of the keys to coaxing burns victims out of isolation and putting a smile back on their faces--something that should happen year ‘round and not confined to just Halloween. 

These moving stories showcase the fact, affirmed Favat, “that film and storytelling are back. Over the past 20 years or so, the industry has been obsessed with chasing down innovation and technology. Along the way film took a backseat. But it’s become clear that with mobile, laptops and new streaming platforms, film is more important than ever. All these different technologies and devices need film’s storytelling power. The resurgence includes more opportunities for longer format branded content.”

The Film Lions drew 2,609 entries, with 85 Lions being awarded: the Grand Prix, 14 Gold, 28 Silver and 42 Bronze.

Entertainment Lions for Music
In our Cannes preview story, Matt Eastwood, worldwide chief creative officer, J. Walter Thompson, said he was looking forward to serving as a judge on the Entertainment Lions for Music jury in part because of all the different perspectives he would encounter. Now, with the judging experience in his rear-view mirror, Eastwood affirmed how valuable these different points of view were to him. 

“I was almost the only ‘ad guy’ on the jury which consisted of artists, composers, music company executives,” related Eastwood. “I learned a lot from those points of view. Going in, I knew the importance of the ways that music can serve the brand. But the different perspectives opened my eyes to how the brand must serve the music. The partnership needs to make sense from both sides. The artist must benefit from the partnership as well. I learned from the other judges just as my role became helping them to better understand how music can build the brand.

“At the end of our judging, Wyclef Jean thanked me for the education about what truly stands out from the sense of the brand. I too was educated about the music artist’s perspective.”

Eastwood also valued the opportunity to help define the Entertainment Lions for Music since it was only in its second year. Back in 2016, two Grand Prix honors were awarded--one for Beyonce’s “Formation” music video, the other for German supermarket Edeka’s “Time To Come Home,” which was scored to vocalist Neele Ternes’ song “Dad.”

Initial conversations in the jury room this year concerned whether the Entertainment Lions for Music should continue to name two Grand Prix winners--one for music videos, another for the most deserving branded category entry. Eastwood and his judging colleagues decided that practice was “unfair” since there are but a couple of music video categories and some 20 categories of everything else. To automatically bestow a Grand Prix upon the best work in just two music video categories didn’t seem equitable with so many other categories vying for a single Grand Prix. Thus the decision was made to name a single Grand Prix winner representing the best mesh of brand, music and creativity.

This year’s Entertainment Lions for Music Grand Prix went to NY agency Johannes Leonardo for its Adidas Originals work, which helps to define originality, noting that it doesn’t always mean having to be first. 

The campaign featured artists such as MadeinTYO, Desiigner and Snoop Dog reinventing “My Way,” the anthem tune for individuality sung most famously by Frank Sinatra.

Music and sound studio Human was behind the Adidas “Original Is Never Finished” ad, the centerpiece of the campaign. The piece--which earlier won Best in Show at the 5th Annual AMP Awards for Music and Sound--features a hard-edged, hip-hop- styled adaptation of the 1969 Sinatra hit, with snippets of Old Blue Eyes’ version interspersed with more gritty, updated segments. (“My Way,” which features lyrics by Paul Anka, is itself an adaptation of the French pop hit “Comme d’habitude,” written by Claude François and Jacques Revaux, with lyrics by François and Gilles Thibaut.) Human’s James Leibow and Morgan Visconti did the arrangement, with the studio’s Michael Jurasits serving as co-creative lead with Visconti. It was produced for Human by EP James Wells.

Eastwood described “Original Is Never Finished” as a complex campaign across multiple touchpoints with music as an integral element. The jury felt strongly it was most deserving of Grand Prix distinction, with Eastwood noting that the positioning of the Adidas brand is akin to the positioning of the Cannes Lions which continually recognizes that “Original Is Never Finished.”

The jury culled through 511 entries, resulting in 33 Lions being awarded: the Grand Prix along with 5 Gold, 11 Silver and 16 Bronze Lions.

Innovation Lions
Will McGinness, partner/executive creative director, Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, noted in our May preview that he was looking forward to serving as an Innovation Lions judge. Part of that anticipation was grounded in the fact that unlike other Cannes categories where you have a good sense of the work you are likely to encounter, Innovation is full of surprises. Inherently Innovation jurors go in “more blind” when it comes to what pieces of pioneering technological creativity they will wind up reviewing.

As for what he now realizes having gone through Innovation judging, McGinness observed that the experience “in a weird way has restored my faith in humanity--to see the amount of thinking and energy being put toward great causes globally.”

A prime example of that is the Innovation Lions Grand Prix winner--“The Humanium Metal Initiative” by Åkestam Holst, Stockholm, and Great Works, Stockholm, for IM Swedish Development Partner. Per the “Humanian” program, metal from recycled illegal firearms is used to build different products such as toys and smartphone cases.

“The potential is huge,” assessed McGinness. “It’s a beautifully thought out business innovation, to take confiscated firearms, melt them down and create this branded metal, Humanium. A supply chain is created where manufacturers can use Humanium in their products--from jewelry to watchbands to buttons on shirts.” 

Companies in turn can promote that they use Humanium, bringing in the element of what McGinness described as “ingenious marketing,” which in the big picture can carry the promise of developing into “something big for gun control worldwide.” 

McGinness said he found the judging process fascinating. After going through hundreds of entries prior to arriving in Cannes, McGinness and his fellow judges wound up focusing on 38 short-listed finalists who flew out in person to make presentations to the jury. “The level of work was incredibly high,” related McGinness, noting that the work was wide ranging from bootstrap startups to innovations from Google and Intel and everything in-between, including products from ad agencies. “We were comparing a lot of apples, oranges, limes and bananas, which made for an interesting exercise, a little mind bending at times.”

Still, the jurors were able to wrap their minds around the finalists thanks to not only their presentations but also, perhaps more importantly, follow-up, 10-minute question-and-answer sessions. McGinness said the opportunity to “interrogate ideas” was essential. He shared that some ideas that seemed great at first blush didn’t hold up during the Q&A whereas entries that seemed a bit iffy wound up being much better upon closer scrutiny as backstories, strategies and the core innovations were revealed during interrogation by judges.

From 298 entries received in Innovation, 12 Lions were awarded: the Grand Prix, 2 Gold, 4 Silver and 5 Bronze.

Credits for ScreenWork: 

Client Burns & Smiles Agency TBWA\Paris Benjamin Marchal, Faustin Claverie, creative directors; Lena Monceau, Julia Deshayes, creative team. Production TBWA\ELSE Nicolas Galoux, director; Jennifer Bauche, Anne-Cecile Jemin, producers; Galmar, executive production; Fabien Peborde, DP; Maxime Boiron, CEO; Jean-Christophe Spadaccini, Pierre Parry, Laetitia Quillery, make-up SFX. Postproduction TBWA\ELSE Gregory Lefevre, editor.  Performer Boris Ravaine Sound Production TBWA\ELSE Fanny Mithois, sound art director; Max Labarthe, Vendome Uhl, sound engineer Music rights Marie Roche Music Pierre Lefeuvre (SAYCET) © 2016 Capitaine Plouf

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