The mother of all creative awards just wrapped up this week. The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival ended June 26, and the PR category winner was not a PR firm.
I'm not even sure a PR person played much of a hand in the winning entry. In fact, 30 people from ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day were credited with the winning “Replay” campaign for client Gatorade, and only two Fleishman-Hillard folks were mentioned at the very bottom of the credits.
Look, either international creative awards are important to the PR industry or they're not. If they're not, it's probably because we have an industry stocked with people who are perfectly happy performing pedestrian work that yields questionable results. Personally, I suffer from a gag reflex when I sit around a table with these people.
If all we're interested in is understanding “best practices,” then all we're doing is producing work and achieving results that are on par with everyone else.
To be blunt, it means that we'll 1) always be listed at the butt-end of credits for creative awards; 2) we won't be perceived as true strategy partners among our clients and employers; and 3) we will never earn the respect of our kissin' cousins in advertising, digital, experiential, and other related marketing communications professions.
The first thing we have to do as a profession is overcome the tendency to follow the herd when it comes to how to create and sell in big ideas. Forget the “world's largest” whatever. I don't want to see a plan with the big idea being a “tweet up.” Nobody cares about anything with sidewalk chalk. These are overdone, stale tactics proposed by small thinkers.
I absolutely loved the Gatorade “Replay” campaign featuring a high-school football team from 1993 replaying a game that ended in a 7-7 tie. You can log on and read the problem, challenge, idea, and results for yourself.
All I know is when you reach a TV audience of 90 million people with a documentary series – emphasis on series, meaning over and over again – you've achieved something meaningful in consumer packaged goods. No “tweet up” reaching 1,500 Twitter followers will touch that.
Doug Spong is president of Carmichael Lynch Spong.