Which campaigns will win big at Cannes Lions 2017?

In the first of two Cannes Lions previews from PRWeek UK, industry leaders discuss what they are looking forward to most at the festival - and which campaigns they would like to win big.

Rob Flaherty, partner, chairman and CEO, Ketchum

What are you most looking forward to at Cannes?

I am looking forward to the surround sound of creativity that is Cannes – it’s 50 per cent networking and spending time with clients, and 50 per cent creative stimulation. But as a long-time PR practitioner (and CEO of one of the first firms to win a PR Lion), perhaps I am most excited about the continuing evolution of our discipline. If you compare Cannes in 2017 to Cannes 10 years ago, I think you will see our industry has made tremendous progress. The world is finally recognising the value of earned media – the only media you can’t buy. I think more and more, we are going to see a shift away from purely paid media to earned, shared and owned media, and that’s good news for our business.

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big?

Two ideas that I wish I’d had:

1) Fearless Girl [below] has gotten tremendous media and social traction. It was a brilliant publicity stunt, but a highly strategic one, for client State Street Global Advisors. Six months later, it’s a viral story that continues to fire on all cylinders and stir additional conversation and controversy.

2) I also think that Bradshaw Stain should get some recognition. This was the first Super Bowl execution to blur the lines between a live news broadcast and a paid integration/commercial, for client Tide. Terry Bradshaw was a live commentator, and the idea to plant a huge stain on his white shirt during the live news broadcast drove massive engagement and media coverage.

Matt Neale, co-CEO, Golin

What are you looking forward to most at Cannes?

Hosting dinner on Wednesday night with Sir Ian McKellen and Jackie Stevenson to discuss why there aren’t more LGBTQ heroes in cinema.

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big?

Ford's Baby Crib is one of those ideas you punish yourself for not thinking of first.

Vikki Chowney, ‎director of content and publishing strategies, H+K Strategies

What are you looking forward to most at Cannes?

Outside of our own session with Fast Company and Huawei on China’s Age of Ambition, there are three topics I’m looking forward to exploring at Cannes. Firstly, Mario Testino’s talk on connection and integrity through imagery – what’s interesting here is that he’s being interviewed by Teen Vogue. You’d normally expect him to be up there with an editor of a more mature fashion magazine, so I’m keen to hear what the angle is for a younger generation. I’m hoping we start to cover a bit of 'influencer responsibility' here. I’m very interested in AI point of views as well, so I’m also keen to hear from Adobe, Baidu and the others covering this topic. Lastly, Brooklyn Brothers’ session with the legend that is Sir Ian McKellen on the craft of storytelling. That’s one not to be missed.

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big? 

Typically, the big winners are those doing high-impact stunts or with social good at their core. I doubt we’ll see much change there. With that in mind, I think we’ll see Fearless Girl, Meet Graham and The Swedish Number [below] all clean up.

Mattias Ronge, CEO, Edelman Deportivo

What are you most looking forward to at Cannes?

For me, more than anything else Cannes is a social event. I look forward to meeting brilliant people I know, and even more brilliant people I didn’t know. Last year we recruited two great creatives in Cannes, and I wouldn’t want that ratio to decrease this year.

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big?

The most interesting campaigns are the ones we just can’t stop talking about because when work gets enough fame, it creates a gravity of its own. Not even logic has anything to put up against it. I can, for example, never remember who the client is behind Fearless Girl and still it will be one of the big winners in Cannes. I really like the Danish TV’s All That We Share for its simplicity. From Sweden we have Los Santos Pride, where a Pride Parade was introduced in the game GTA; IKEA Retail Therapy [below], with a very emotional take on marketing furniture; and Åland index, calculating the environmental impact on every transaction with your credit card.

Alan VanderMolen, president, international, WE

What are you looking forward to most at Cannes?

Hopefully, the re-emergence of celebrating specialisation. In recent years, Cannes has bestowed honour upon generalisation – holding companies slamming their once great brands into the muddy middle of marketing services in order to pursue undifferentiated briefs. I will be searching for the return to celebrating specialist differentiation and how cooperation amongst specialist agencies delivers brand value.

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big? 

Tough question. In general, I am not a big fan of campaigns. I think the sustained efforts of brands to manage long-term relationships in a rapidly moving brand and media ecosystem is what should be celebrated. Brands that can manage their motion through this environment are the brands that I believe should be celebrated (versus specific campaigns). Let’s celebrate brands like Spotify, Cadbury, several of Unilever’s brands, and Tesla.

Hannah Pawlby, director, the Brewery at Freuds

What are you looking forward to most at Cannes?

The Awards, obviously, especially the LionHeart, which this year goes to Richard Curtis (below) for all his incredibly creative campaigning work.

[Note: Curtis and Freuds have collaborated on numerous projects]

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big? The Fearless Girl, created for International Women’s Day in Wall Street. No words were required; the campaign was summed up in one brilliant image that engaged the public, created a reaction and leaves a legacy of an incredible art piece.

Beth Williams, director, UK health team, Weber Shandwick

What are you looking forward to most at Cannes?

So many things, but I’m most looking forward to seeing who the shock winners might be this year – there’s always one! Like that talking fish – who’d have guessed it? [The Take it from a Fish campaign for Astrazeneca, below, was the Grand Prix winner in the Lions Health in 2015.]

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big? 

A trend in consumer is for campaigns that reflect our current political and social landscape, so I'm interested to see if this also wins through in health this year.

James Herring, managing partner, Taylor Herring

What are you looking forward to most at Cannes?

Getting some fresh inspiration from great creative minds from all corners of the globe and catching up with industry pals.

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big? 

Too early to say as we haven’t seen the entries list, but would expect Heineken’s Worlds Apart [below] to do rather well.

Rebecca Rhodes, chief creative officer, Virgo/Golin

What are you looking forward to most at Cannes?

The RB Innovation Hack of course! Last year, we brought a group of creative directors from across the globe together to solve a pollution problem for Save the children. This year we solve the issue for China. There are quite a few of these live brainstorm sessions on the agenda this year and I think it is a really brilliant 'in the moment' capture of the creative energy at Cannes.

Which campaigns (not your own) would you like to win big? 

Heineken's World Aparts campaign [above] will do well this year. Social purpose and social impact will still be a number one factor for judges and this campaign ticks that box, as well as delivering the obligatory Cannes entertainment factor.

Jennifer Risi, worldwide chief communications officer, Ogilvy

What are you looking forward to most at Cannes?

Cannes Lions provides one of the greatest opportunities to meet and network with new, talented and creative people from all over the world, to share ideas and best practices that help to expand our global community. That is one of the things I look forward to most. In addition to building relationships with some of the industry’s leading voices, I also look forward to learning new things and gaining new perspectives about innovations in communications, marketing, entertainment, design and technology that drive the industry forward.

Tomorrow we ask industry chiefs how they think PR agencies will perform against sister marcomms disciplines this year. They will also offer words of advice for 'Cannes virgins'.

Stay tuned to PRWeek in the coming weeks for extensive coverage of Cannes, including Awards news, showcases of the best campaigns, analyses of the big trends, and more.

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