This year, our Head of Global Client Relationships, Cecile Nathan-Tilloy, was invited to be on the PR jury at the esteemed Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. For decades this annual event has brought together and celebrated some of the brightest and most innovative minds from around the world. We were honored to have Cecile there to represent Edelman Intelligence.
Naturally, we were eager to hear Cecile’s insights. I sat down with Cecile to get a full download on her experience as a judge, the campaigns and trends that stood out most, and her advice for those looking to take home a coveted lion in 2019.
What can you tell us about the jury experience that most people don’t know?
A lot of people talk about the time it takes, and it’s true. As a shortlisting judge, my work started long before I arrived in Cannes…7 weeks before. I judged 475 entries online. Between watching the videos, reading the written submissions and materials, and scoring, I spent an average of 15 min. per entry. If you’re doing the math, that’s almost 120 hours. But on the plus side, I wasn’t locked inside a room at Cannes for 5 days.
Were there any campaigns that really stood out to you?
Going into the experience, I had high expectations. And even they were surpassed; some of the entries I saw were truly inspiring and mind-blowing. The Reach track (which includes PR, Creative Data, Direct, Media, and Social & Influencer) was defined this year as “the insight, strategy, and planning enabling brands to effectively engage consumers at scale and be heard amid the ongoing battle for attention.” The Nature Represented campaign ticked all the right boxes, and I was thrilled to see it take home the Gold PR Lion. The campaign aims to create a pro bono network of legal and judicial support to protect Nature’s Rights in Ecuador – the first country in the world to recognize the rights of species, mountains, forests, and rivers in its constitution. 3850 Attorneys have already signed up to give a voice to those who don’t have one. Gives me hope!
Out of the submissions you saw, what was one rising trend in the PR category that excited you?
PR is not only shaping conversation, it is shaping and shaking cultures and behaviors. It is audience-centric and culturally grounded. The winning campaigns were all deeply rooted in cultural relevance and fueled by insight – they truly understood the context and environment they were operating in and how to challenge the status quo.
Data and creativity are often considered at odds with one another. Based on what you saw this year, do you think this mindset is shifting?
At the end of the day, this is the Festival of Creativity. But I am encouraged to see that more than ever, data and insight are being used to inspire, empower, and demonstrate the value of creativity in shaping the world. The winning campaigns don’t always show the research, but you can feel it – because it’s all about relevancy. You can feel when a campaign has been informed and guided by research.
You also judged the Young Lions competition, what was that like?
All I can say is the next generation (our future clients!) is coming and they are super witty, impressive, and inspiring. It’s also worth noting that the ability to write a concise, direct, and effective brief is worth an award at Cannes!
Any words of advice for teams looking to take home a coveted lion next year?
You don’t need to be the biggest name or spend the most money. It’s all about being smart, changing behaviors, and driving action. And proving that you’ve done so.