Gold and Silver Lions were awarded to representatives of China and France respectively last week. The lack of Bronze met with criticism from figures including ICCO CEO and PRCA director general Francis Ingham. ICCO was a partner of the awards.
The event did not initially respond to PRWeek enquiries on the lack of Bronze.
However, a statement provided by the jurors to PRWeek today, said: "Cannes Lions is extremely competitive and entries are held to a high standard. We honoured those standards and kept the spirit of the competition at heart.
"The Gold and Silver winners were clear. While we wanted to award the Bronze, the remaining entries failed to address a key part of the brief or fell apart strategically or tactically. That is not in line with the DNA of a Cannes Lions Award."
Ingham took issue with the judges' statement, saying he thought it was "exceptionally unlikely" to be correct and was "deeply insulting to the young people who spent so long on this process, and to the companies and associations that spent so much money sending them to Cannes".
He threatened that unless the Cannes organisers remedied the issues, "the temporary demoralisation felt by so many teams and associations will become a permanent disengagement".
Meanwhile, Daniella Graham and Andy Garner, the UK's team from Engine's Mischief PR, told PRWeek in response to the jury statement: "Like with any pitch situation, it’s what the judges like best on the day. Fair play to the winners, obviously we thought our idea was gold but hopefully one day we’ll be bringing a fully fledged Lion back to Mischief."
The contest was open to duos representing different countries, all aged under 30. Teams were given 24 hours to create a PR campaign in response to a client brief, with a panel of judges awarding first, second and third place.
The four-strong Young PR Lions jury was:
- Gina McKinnon, general manager at New Zealand-based agency Fuse
- Dawn Gipson, SVP and creative program director, FleishmanHillard (St Louis)
- Leila Mountford, global creative manager, Amnesty International
- Ann Maes, head of influence, Ogilvy Amsterdam and MD, Ogilvy PR (Netherlands and Belgium).
Gold, Silver and Bronze awards were handed out across a number of other categories at Cannes, including Print, Media, Marketer and Design.