Aden Ridgeway's Cannes Diary #4

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 7.46.31 am.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.
And the winner is... After four days in the PR jury room, finishing at 1am on the last day, the PR winners for #CannesLions 2018 have been announced. I'm exhausted but am satisfied with the results and the process.

We awarded 86 Lions out of 2087 entries and the Grand Prix went to LADbible's Trash Isles campaign that reached half a billion people. The campaign focused on turning the France-sized-area of floating trash in the Pacific Ocean into an official country, with bank notes, stamps and a passport, and submitting an application to the United Nations. This obliges other countries to help clean it up.
file-4.jpgI think this deserves the Grand Prix accolade. It's a simple idea amplified through an integrated campaign where the environment is given voice at the UN. Endorsed by big names celebrities such as Al Gore and Sir David Attenborough, the Trash Isles literally puts itself on the world map.

PR jury process

During the judging there was some concern that we may not have a vintage year. At times painstaking, what was beautiful about the process was that, although the jurors have different experiences and come from different global regions, the process allowed us to arrive at a consensus.

By day #4 you start to see patterns, trends and themes. It is both organic and structured, and through the process of cooking the stew with the right ingredients, things start to rise to the surface. Literally, in the case of the Trash Isles.

file2-1.jpgThere's a satisfaction knowing that the winners you've identified are the best of the best, in terms of craft, excellence of creativity and messaging, and representative of current industry trends.

As I suspected, the winners are those that are prepared to be more purpose-led in their branding campaigns, from the top down and the bottom up, connecting influencers, communities and corporates together at the same time.

We also ensured that the campaign was PR-designed and there's understanding and love -- that is, an emotional response -- to the campaign. We were looking for campaigns that have a deep impact in real life, either earned or reputation-focused but not gimmicky.

Lastly, we chose campaigns that deal with behavioural change and create awareness (this can be either / or, not one over the other) not simply drumming up noise.

file3-1.jpgInitially, the Grand Prix winner didn't leap out admitted our jury president, Stuart Smith, Global Chief Executive Officer from Ogilvy PR, in the press conference. "But through the process we ran, the work emerged. This particular activation gave rights to nature in a way we hadn't seen before."

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 7.46.44 am.jpgIn his opening remarks Smith singled out the BWM Dentsu Group campaign, Project Revoice which has given Pat Quinn, co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, his voice back. Smith also credited the PR jury of behaving "with the highest ethical standards, excluding themselves when they needed to, not talking the work down and always focusing on the creativity of the work." It's certainly been a pleasure working with Smith and the rest of my jury colleagues.

In a departure from previous jury proceedings, Smith also mentioned that, "We put to death the idea that this campaign is from a PR agency but made sure that the ideas are at the centre of everything."
Indigenous perspective

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 7.46.52 am.jpgCannes Lions has been a fantastic experience. As the first Indigenous person to be on a Lions jury panel, I'm there like the other jurors but I also bring a dimension of diversity to the process.
I'm representing First Nations people, in this case from Australia. What I bring is a cultural lens and I think that's been useful in the process.

There have been numerous cases when Aboriginal cultural and sacred designs have been appropriated for t-shirts and tea towels, disrespecting the original artists and undermining our cultural integrity.

In one case study we discussed in the PR jury room, a Romanian fashion label, Bihor Couture, raised awareness about this issue after an iconic global label appropriated the traditional ethnic designs in their colllections.

file1-1.jpgPersonally, this acknowledges the importance of not just fake labels, but cultural appropriation. It's important to challenge and tackle this, just as it is to address any tendency to unconscious bias so that the final group of medal winners doesn't only reflect an Anglo, Western view. This adds to the richness of the conversation.

To quote Omnicom chief diversity office and Adcolor founder and president Tiffany R. Warren, who spoke on the Diversity session with British Vogue's new black editor Edward Enninful, HP marketing chief Antonio Lucio and Westworld actress, Thandie Newton, "So often the marginalised are asked to make a business case for diversity, but have you ever heard a business case for sameness?"

Two months ago, HP announced its #MoreLikeMe initiative designed to build and strengthen diverse creative talent. This sees 15 ethnically diverse rising stars attend Cannes Lions this year for an immersive experience and there's no reason why an Indigenous creative can't be part of next year's programme. I'll be toasting to that tonight as the winners claim their Lions.

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