Aden Ridgeway's Cannes Diary #3

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 7.46.32 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.

Why we Cannes. Diversity of thought, colour, perspective, gender, region and race. Diversity is more than a buzzword at #CannesLions 2018, it's defining how we do business -- and influencing how the PR jury room decides its shortlist.

Day #3 of judging and the heat is on. Inevitably, when decisions need to be made, differences arise. We all know that at this point we're not only deciding who goes forward but which entries won't make the cut.

Those that made it through to the shortlist are diverse in terms of content, origin and style. There's a good mix -- not all from Western nations -- but representative of many global regions. Sometimes a simple idea elegantly executed can deliver exceptional impact.
Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 7.45.55 am.jpgOne example on the shortlist is the campaign from the German supermarket Edeka. (Up until today I've been unable to name individual entries, so it's good to share!)

Edeka have a reputation for surprising stunts with a moral spine. In August 2017, as tensions ran high in reaction to the immigrant crisis in Europe, Edeka's supermarket in Hamburg emptied its shelves of all foreign food. No Brazilian coffee, no Greek olives, no chocolate.

Instead of food, Edeka put up signs: "This shelf is quite boring without variety," or "Our range now knows borders."

The stunt was powerful: it took a risk, it made a political stand and had impact.

It made me reflect on whether we do enough in Australia: how many of our campaigns shatter stereotypes? What if a flagship supermarket in Sydney cleared its shelves and only stocked bush tucker to highlight the immense wealth of Indigenous resources? After all, we have 60,000 years worth of knowledge to share.
 
Beyond the stereotype

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 7.46.19 am.jpgAmong delegates, in the Palais corridors, at sundowners, there's much talk about navigating through fake news, the breakdown of consumer trust, the search for meaning.

I heard that the session in the Forum on 'Rational, Emotional &... Spiritual?' had queues stretching up two flights of stairs.

In the PR jury room, we also discussed how best practice is no longer creating stuff for the sake of it, consumers will only buy things if they have purpose. Millennials will only turn up for work if their job has meaning.

But how brands walk this tightrope of morality is a challenge -- and it's obvious which companies are opportunistic and which are genuine.  

While some may complain that this is swinging the pendulum away from advertising as pure entertainment, for me it's about brands truly standing for something and companies following through on that belief.

A good example on the shortlist is how Latina TV, which has been active for years advocating against violence against women, ran a controversial campaign in last year's Miss Peru competition.  

Instead of the contestants announcing their vital statistics during the live TV broadcast, one contestant said a girl dies every 10 minutes due to sexual exploitation in Peru.

Another said, "My name is Karen Bueto... My measurements are: 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year."

The campaign, by highlighting gender violence on national TV, triggered a debate in the Peru parliament.

This genuine, long-term commitment to a cause compares to a well-known fast-food company which campaigns one week on net neutrality and the next against bullying of young people. In this case, the question around the PR jury table was: what is this brand's real purpose? Are they simply being opportunistic?

On Wednesday 20 June we'll be drawing the line between the shortlist and the winners. If the past three days in the jury room is anything to go by, we'll be looking for diversity of form and format, simplicity alongside tech, sophistication hand-in-hand with heart-felt belief. Stay tuned.

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