Having just returned from Cannes after two days of toe curling, interesting, a couple of dead boring and a few truly inspiring seminars, plus an awards ceremony that sent a very clear message to the world of pharma agencies, my over all impression is this:
Finally we get our own world cup, the top teams won with outstanding work, but the pitches need some work.
With all due respect to the Globals and the RX awards, and especially the PM awards here in the UK, this is bigger, better and tough as hell to win.
I’ll be honest, over the years my enthusiasm for awards has waned, I know it’s important to an extent, and I still like winning them and judging them but it all just seems a bit tiresome to be concerned with.
But let me tell you ladies and gents I want a Gold lion, I want that Grand Prix.
For anyone unfamiliar with the set-up there were two juries, one for pharma and one for wellness. It seemed that the pharma lot may have been a bit harsher but I don’t think the wellness team let the side down. There was great work on show and I for one came away with a renewed sense of determination to take on the big guys.
But anyone looking at the work selected from a geographic point of view might notice a worrying bias.
Having spoken to some of the jurors, there was a lot of work entered from the USA, as you would expect. However, as one of the most regulated territories, that comes with some harsh legal requirements.
By all accounts the minute what the Americans call ‘fair balance’ began at the end of the TV spots (all the stuff when the VO says that ‘this may cause anal bleeding and you could turn in to a Zebra’ etc) the jurors winced and pressed the eject button.
Now for an elitist awards jury briefed to pick work that rivals the consumer version of Cannes, that is understandable.
On the other hand you could argue that in a specially devised healthcare awards the conditions that we create work in might be understood or forgiven or at the very least allowed for, it’s part of the regulations and there is simply nothing they can do about it.
Now clearly a truly global awards system needs the USA to be a player.
The fact that Brasil, Japan and Australia fared better than most is no comment on the standard of the work on show, the winners deserved to win, but it’s hard to compete with one hand tied behind your back.
So either the Americans should be allowed to re-edit for awards or the jurors asked to disregard the legal or a huge chunk of the industry’s work will simply not show up next year and that can’t be healthy.
After all, the idea is there to be judged not the regulatory system.
That said, Langland won agency of the year and the UK is strongly regulated, and Canada had some success and their regulations make the US seem like well, Brasil.
Perhaps, like football, it’s about finding space to play in.
As far as the punditry goes the seminars were a mixed bag. But one in particular caught my eye and squished my pupil till it hurt.
It was hosted by FCB (a major USA sponsor of the festival who came away with nothing) and the talk was about attracting new talent to the industry.
Now I’ll skip the toe curling graduate writer who encouraged us all to tell people that “we do go out for drinks and we’re not just all geeks and ‘lame'”
Well thanks Missy for that endorsement, I feel so much cooler now.
But the level playing field extends to the whole industry on this topic.
Apparently 90% of all creative students say they would only choose pharma over consumer if that was the only choice left to them.
90%? who are we being left with?
So the talent coming in to the industry is by and large less like World cup standards and more like the Conference league and that should be a worry for us all if we’re all going to be playing at the top level.
The other comment on the same seminar was from Rich Levy, chief creative officer at FCB health. A clearly smart, creative and eloquent man.
“The goal is for there to be just one Cannes…no segregation”
The problem with that as a goal, apart from missing the point spectacularly, is that Health deserves it’s own awards not because it can’t play with the big boys but we are the big boys and this is our awards. If we want to be seen as equal we have to act equal, they should be wanting to win at our awards.
The consumer lot can go fuck themselves.
I’m not sure that’s the official line but you get my drift.
Can you imagine what a group of consumer creatives would make of the stuff we do? My one reservation about the ‘Creative floor’ awards is just that. To quote a tweet from Andrew Spurgeon: “It was carnage”
I’m not surprised, and frankly I don’t need consumer creatives to judge my work to validate it.
On Saturday night a few of us Englishmen left the party early to watch the football in a small extremely hot bar. Next to us were a table full of Italians and it was all good-natured cheering and football banter, descending in to foulmouthed expletives and drunken misery until the final whistle.
England played well, but ultimately came away with nothing.
Well, if you want to compete at the highest level, it’s clear playing well will only get you so far.