Aden Ridgeway's Cannes Diary #1

Aden01 (1).jpgAden Ridgeway (left), partner at Cox Inall Ridgeway, is representing Australia on the Cannes PR Lions jury. Ridgeway, along with most of the other Australian and NZ jurors writes for CB.

Yes, we Cannes! Over 2000 entries, 10 jurors, 11 hours. Day #1 as a juror at Cannes Lions for PR has been epic -- and it's only Sunday.

For the past fortnight back in Australia I've been viewing and judging a significant portion of the entries as a member of the global jury. Now I'm here in Cannes as one of 10 on the award jury. It's up to us to decide the shortlist as well as the winners for PR in Cannes Lions 2018.
file-3.jpgAhead, lies the mammoth task of choosing which entries make the cut. Our job is to reduce the entries to 10-15%, all the while considering the following four criteria: Idea, Strategy, Execution and Impact and Reach.

This year at Cannes Lions there are nine tracks and PR is covered under the Reach track. Reach is defined as, "The insight, strategy and planning enabling brands to effectively engage consumers, at scale, and be heard amid the ongoing battle for attention."

The entries within PR cover a range of sub-categories varying wildly from food and drink, to public affairs and lobbying, not-for-profit, leisure and use of technology, to name a few. The issues covered in the entries are current and hard-hitting. They represent what people care about, reacting against and wanting to change. Issues like climate change, saving the whales, getting rid of plastic bags, gun control, gender equality or violence against woman. They are issues that we are all talking about.  

Inside the jury room
The gender division in the the PR jury room is equal: five men, five women. My fellow jurors represent the major regions in the world from Latin America, to Asia, to northern Europe and the US. I'm the only Australian.

Certainly, I'm impressed by the caliber of the other jurors. They all display a deep professional commitment and everyone takes their role seriously. We all know the importance of judging and want to ensure we identify what represents best practice in the creative industry right now.

Short breaks are taken on the terrace with a view over Promenade de la Croisette.  Preparation for the rest of the festival is in full swing. Along Cannes beach the flags of Google and Facebook are flying, vans are unloading flowers and PA systems, and delegates walk with their blue passes flapping in the balmy afternoon breeze.

Back in the PR jury room, the atmosphere is focused, collegiate and collaborative. It's not just the process that matters, it's also the discussion and debate which will allow us to work towards a consensus.

As I sift through the entries with my jury colleagues, I'm cognisant that the process is not only to find what is the best standard for the creativity industry but also that each of the entries need to take you on a journey, have dynamic impact and encourage you to think about an issue in a different way. The entries must ignite and then sustain the conversation. This is what makes them compelling.

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 8.16.33 am.jpgFirst-time to Cannes Lions
Yesterday, as my plane ducked beneath the clouds, I was struck by the built-up coastline of the French Riveria -- like the Gold Coast meets Miami. Once driving from Nice airport to Cannes, it is more spacious. Tall cypress trees are dotted in between Mediterranean blocks of flats.

Cannes itself is a fascinating place and I can see why it's chosen to host this festival of creativity. It lends itself to the expression of creative freedom. The centre of the town is smaller than you might think. All the action is, unsurprisingly, on the beach which is a more exotic version of Manly.

My personal approach
I'm looking for projects that are authentic and meaningful, that convey something that is not just a passing thought but offers true connection. This reflects my Indigenous way of seeing. I think more and more people want real, values-based experiences and PR needs to reflect this.

It's a great honour to be chosen as a juror. As Jose Papa, the managing director of Cannes Lions said, "The job of the Cannes Lions jury is to act as the custodians of creativity and celebrate work that demonstrates the value of creativity in all its forms."

For me being a juror is about finding the dots that make up the painting as well as the richness of the canvas on which they sit.

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