Aden Ridgeway's Cannes Diary #2

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.32.15 am.jpgAden Ridgeway, 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.

The large black doors swing shut and day #2 of judging begins at Cannes Lions 2018.  One juror is starting to lose her voice (arctic air-conditioning) and another fights jet-lag. But as soon as we take our seats, the work begins. We're here to judge the PR track and our deadline is looming.

We've been through the first round of judging with each juror considering and scoring each entry on a scale of one to nine. Now, the focus is reducing over 2000 entries to around 10%.
Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.32.52 am.jpgThis review stage allows us to consider whether entries on our provisional shortlist are worthy of being shortlisted only, or deciding a possible or a definite winner.

It's intense as we scrutinise each entry. Our president, Stuart Smith, Global Chief Executive Officer from Ogilvy PR guides the process expertly with humour and candour. At dinner, later that day, he will tell us all how impressed that we all work well together.

I can imagine that some jury proceedings could be tense. However, in the PR jury room, there is a collegiate atmosphere.

While we may have different views and opinions, and come from different backgrounds, each juror listens to and takes on board others opinions. All the jurors take their responsibilities seriously to ensure that the shortlist is diverse, representative and sets the benchmark of industry creativity.

One topical issue is purpose, authenticity and meaning. Personally, I am looking for PR campaigns that are both authentic and legitimate in terms of doing good but are clear about their purpose. No longer is PR only about entertainment and brand, it's also about shifting culture, getting us to think about the social issues the world faces and having a positive impact on the places we live.

Sir Michael Perry, Chairman of Centrica PLC, puts it well, saying, "The brands that will be big in the future will be those that tap into the social changes that are taking place."

Among my fellow jurors we discussed how some campaigns seem to have the pretence of being a campaign for good and yet there were questions around the purpose and authenticity of that intent.

My impression is that creativity can't just rely on a digital platform, either. It has to be more than that and sometimes the simplest things can be the most powerful.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.32.26 am.jpgOn day #2 we were able to finish a little earlier giving me the chance to look around the festival. We also enjoyed a convivial jury dinner together in a nearby French restaurant. Accordion players serenaded us and festival-goers strolled past eating ice-cream.  

This created a pleasant transition for day #3. I've been warned that it only gets moreScreen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.32.42 am.jpg challenging from here as we get into the deliberation on the creative merits -- and otherwise -- of each of the entries that are shortlisted to enable us to make our final decisions on giving the awards.

However I am confident that through good, thorough discussion and thought, the best outcome will be delivered. I am a great believer in rigorous conversation and debate, this leads to positive and thoughtful outcomes.

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