Clems Melbourne’s Stephen de Wolf: Reflections On Cannes

Clems Melbourne’s Stephen de Wolf: Reflections On Cannes
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Clemenger BBDO Melbourne ECD Stephen de Wolf (pictured below) was a juror at this year’s Cannes. Here, he muses on the unique week the festival manages to throw up each and every year…

It’s been just over a week since Cannes wrapped up and like many jurors and festival goers I’ve been reflecting on the event.

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If you’ve ever been to Cannes, you know it’s a unique experience. If you’ve been more than once you also know, no one year is the same. And this year’s festival was definitely another unique experience for me, because this year I had the humbling opportunity to do it as a juror in the Direct category.

This year our jury was made up of two Americans, a Brit, a Frenchman, a Spaniard, a Swede, a Brazilian, a South African German, a Kiwi and of course me, an Australian.

We entered day one of judging with a niggling question, “What makes this direct?” Some might think it surprising – we were on the direct jury after all – but I can assure you after watching hundreds of case studies in prejudging, it felt more like a lot of entries were there to ‘give direct a go’ rather than being a direct idea.

With that, our brilliant Jury President, Nicky Bullard – chairwoman and chief creative officer of MRM//McCann UK – made sure we’d aligned and agreed on the criteria we wanted direct to live up to this year: “do you know me?”, “does the work move me?”, “did you make me do something”, and “can you prove I did it?”. Then, we reminded ourselves of the Direct Lions voting criteria – 30 per cent idea, 20 per cent strategy, 20 per cent execution, 30 per cent impact and results.

Our diverse group of jurors made the judging utterly unique as cultural insight, taste and experience made for some of the most intense, robust, refreshing conversations around ideas I’d had in a long time. Even with that, our decisions we’re almost always unanimous.

From a short list of around 250 we awarded 24 bronze, 12 silver, five gold and of course one Grand Prix. While we were fairly confident in our choices, we had been in a dark room for days and it wasn’t until I’d finished the last of my judging duties, ‘The Inside the Jury Room Presentation’, it was made clear by the attendees’ reactions we had curated a compelling and strong list of Direct Lions.
What did I walk away from the room thinking? I left thinking the Direct ideas that rose to silver and gold, while sometimes tonally light-hearted and over-indexed on burgers, were in fact very sophisticated ideas. They are all brilliant in understanding themselves as brands, their audience and their behaviour. In my mind Whopper Detour, our Grand Prix, showed us what direct could and should be today and threw down the exciting challenge of where someone will take it to next year.

For me Cannes is always about celebrating the best of creativity, but this year it was something more. 11 jurors who had never met, came together from all over the world to judge Direct. Today, I can honestly say 11 jurors finished the festival as great friends. That’s what makes Cannes Lions so unique. Amazing minds from all over the world, in one place, for one week, for one reason… creativity.

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Cannes 2019 Clemenger BBDO Melbourne Stephen de Wolf

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