Dominic Hofstede's Cannes Diary #1

0.jpgDominic Hofstede (left), design director at Maud, part of Accenture Interactive, is representing Australia on the Cannes Design Lions jury. Hofstede, along with most of the other Australian and NZ jurors writes exclusively for CB.

A unique bond manifests from the profound, and privileged process of award judging, somewhat akin to Stockholm syndrome. If you appreciate that judging at Cannes involves being locked in a dark cavernous space for hours on end with a group of strangers and only weird coffee for comfort, you will understand the hostage analogy. After just one day of judging, it's clear that sustained personal connections will be established which will endure long after our final judgements are passed next week. It's also apparent that strong opinions will be voiced throughout the days ahead, a recipe for an invigorating and educative experience.
design day one judging (1).jpgToday was all about shortlisting without shortcuts. Across Digital & Interactive, Communication and Packaging Design categories we reviewed hundreds of entries which many found challenging, given the time constraints and volume of work. Paying due respect to each entry whilst maintaining an optimum speed required rhythm and momentum. The day began with a call to arms from the professional and well-prepared Cannes Lions crew (coffee excluded). In the equivalent of an AFL coaches' pre-game rev-up, the motivational message here was that 'design can be used by brands for cultural impact (i.e. 'design can change the world'). These aspirational words resonated with me throughout the day. Unfortunately, in comparison to sustained and authentic efforts to genuinely make positive change, many brands see social causes as token opportunities for their own aggrandizement. In my view, there were too many cases of this in the work we reviewed on day one.

A couple of key trends appeared that are worth noting. Continuing the sporting theme, there were numerous examples of 'brand substitutions', where iconic identities temporarily replaced, or modified, their names or logos for specific events or causes. The first time you see this tactic it is surprising and compelling. By the fifth time, it loses some lustre. Outcomes derived from complex data extraction and manipulation were also prevalent, and not always completely successful; "first we did this, and then we turned it into that, and then we delivered it to them as an immersive OOH experience ...". This is the kind of work that leaves you wondering exactly what problem design is trying to solve. Simple ideas cut through for me, irrespective of medium. This is the work that stays with you because of its intelligence, appropriateness and execution.

Leaving the poster category until the end of my judging day was a masterstroke. The simplicity and directness of this form of visual communication contrasted sharply with much of the other work we had seen. It seems there is still a place (Japan, specifically) for a beautifully crafted poster, and the world is better as a result.

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