Tim Hawkey is the ECD of FCB Health’s Area 23, Lions Health and Wellness Jury member, and winner of the Cannes Lions 2017 Health Agency of the Year.
As I reflect back on my experience judging Lions Health and Wellness, I emerged better equipped to evaluate and develop great work. But I also emerged wiser and more savvy about the process of entering Cannes Lions. Allow me to share with you my observations, with an aim to share important knowledge and increase the penetration and impact by dedicated-health agencies at Cannes Lions.
Quality Beats Quantity
Don’t over submit your work. Put yourself in a jurors shoes for a minute. Six weeks of pre-judging squeezed into all the “free” time you have in your life, then a week of in-person judging for 12-16 hours a day. Now imagine that every 20 minutes, the same piece of creative pops up on your screen, or the same video starts playing. Doesn’t sound like a good way to make an impression, does it? Certainly, there’s a point to capitalizing on more categories for your entry, but there is also a point of diminishing returns after which a juror simply begins to hate your guts. My agency fell victim to this a few years ago. In our eagerness, we submitted Free Killer Tan 8 times in Health and Wellness. From what I hear, by the fourth time the jury had to hear a street barker yell “FREE TAN, JUST FOR YOU!”, we were toast. If you still want a hard number, I’d say 4 entries for a campaign per jury would be more effective than 8 entries of the same campaign.
You look familiar
We saw a lot of oversaturated trends in the jury room. There were probably 20 Apps/Tools/Games/Chat Bots/Storybooks/Toys/Mobile solutions all designed to teach a child a new healthy behavior or trick them into doing something healthy. These are everywhere, and it becomes harder and harder to distinguish one from another. Don’t get me wrong. These are important projects. Agencies and clients should most definitely be doing this good, positive, socially-responsible projects. Just think twice before sending them to Cannes.
And this just in from the jury room… VR/AR is already old. Saying “we’re gonna do VR” is like saying “we’re gonna do a print ad”. VR is no longer an idea. The idea has to drive the VR, and the idea has to be fall-out-of-your-chair phenomenal if you want a judge to look twice at it.
No quieres que ser Señor Trucho
Hablas español? Our South American friends have a word for scam advertising. Trucho. It’s a wonderful word. Almost onomatopoeia for the act in question. And Trucho comes in many flavors. From work that never ran, to work that only ran once (as in, it got hung on one telephone pole in Takahatchee, FL), to work that ran but that the client never even saw. And then there is Major League Trucho which I wont get into because I don’t want to scare you out of advertising.
Look, the Cannes Lions official are really sharp. They spend months on all the entries looking for inconsistencies in the write up. They check your media plans. They will search the internet for instances of your creative that don’t match up with the creative you submitted. And beyond the officials, the jury has a really good nose for sniffing these things out. So don’t do it.
What’choo talking about, Wellness?
Before you spend thousand to send your entry to the wellness jury, really ask yourself if you’re a wellness brand or if you’re a brand who is trying to smell like wellness for a hot second. In prior years I believe people were calling it “healthification” . Our jury wasn’t as generous. We called it Health Appropriation. If you’re not clear if you fit the exclusion criteria, lemme give you some concrete examples. If you are a sugary orange soda who does a great activation regarding teen suicide… you might not be a health and wellness brand. If you are a beer brand who executed your government-mandated drink responsibly message in a clever way… you might not be a health and wellness brand. And if you are a chocolate milk, or a corn oil, or any combination of these two liquids, fighting sedentary lifestyles with a go-out-and-play message… you guessed it. You might not be a health and wellness brand.
And now for a word from our sponsor…
Purchase a Cannes Lions Archive subscription (hopefully this will make up for my above statement about submitting fewer entries). But seriously, the archives are a gold mine. We use it at my agency every day. For the 22 weeks after Cannes, we lead a session with the creative department and all comers to go through each of the 22 lions juries, each week, examining the Grand Prix and other top winners, and discussing as a group what set that work apart and what the implications are for our agency’s work. The archive has every single entry, not just the shortlists and lion winners, so there are tremendous competitive intel possibilities as well.
I think that’s it for me. Its been a pleasure to share with you my judging journey. And keep the questions coming in, its been great to keep the dialogue going.