The PR Show: How did PR's creativity really measure up at Cannes?

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity could potentially ditch categories because "everybody is eating each other's lunch" and PR agencies need to consider how they are showing up, according to panellists on a special creativity episode of The PR Show.

The PR Show: Hickman, Ratcliffe, Nester, Hutton
The PR Show: Hickman, Ratcliffe, Nester, Hutton

Edelman’s Michelle Hutton, who was this year’s Cannes Lions PR jury president, Weber Shandwick ECD of the UK and EMEA James Nester and The Romans associate creative Ottilie Ratciffe joined PRWeek news editor Arvind Hickman to discuss how PR agencies fared at Cannes and broader issues such as woke-washing and whether PR is getting more or less creative.

"I think there is an important conversation to have around how PR agencies are showing up in Cannes because some have a strategy of being the main entrant and others don’t. Some agencies turn up and look to be seen and awarded as a partner agency," Hutton said.

"It’s horses for courses, but if you look at the ranking of agencies – we showed up well as discipline this year but not always as the main entrant."

Hutton pointed out that half of the top six entrants in the PR Lions category had "PR attached to it – and that’s a huge step change for years prior".

Ratcliffe, who is one of the leading young creatives in the UK and a Cannes Lions Silver winner, believes there is such a "blurring of the lines" between disciplines that "everyone is just a creative agency".

"If you look at a lot of the Grand Prix winners, you couldn’t tell whether that was an ad agency who did that or a PR agency or production agency," she added. "It’s all one big mix now…to separate now into ‘this is PR, this is advertising, stay in your lane’ won’t happen going forward."

Nester points out that the best creative ideas have always blurred the lines between disciplines.

"If you take very old TV ads, the best ones have been earned ideas, something like Orange Tango Man from the early-80s, which got banned because everyone was going around slapping each other in the air in the playground. That’s a proper social PR idea and there were no social channels available."

Ratcliffe believes that increasingly there won’t be a need to separate disciplines into categories at awards events, but not all panellists agree.

The panel also discussed their favourite campaigns at this year’s Cannes, some of the trends and lessons for the industry, creative opportunities, and Hutton delivers a plea to the PR industry.

You can listen to The PR Show below.

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