Doug Zanger | January 04, 2019

Here’s What 7 Cannes Lions Jury Presidents Will Look For in 2019

John Patroulis of Grey gives his predictions.

While it's yet to be seen how specific industry predictions will present themselves at the Cannes Lions this June, it's clear that this year's jury presidents have their eyes, ears and brains trained on what could emerge as Grand Prix victors. Listening to jury presidents share their experiences with their judging colleagues during the festival is fascinating. There is constructive dialogue, some back and forth and a few arguments that happen in the hallowed halls of the Palais. But it all comes down to each jury president setting the tone and bar of expectation for the work, which is very high. To that end, we asked some of Cannes' 2019 jury presidents their thoughts on what they expect to see, and what they look forward to most in their category. 

John Patroulis, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer, Grey 

Category: Outdoor 

What excites you most about the past and present work in your category? 

“First off, there’s room for every single tool of creative expression: from social media-driven activations to interactive video to live theater experiences to simple, beautifully crafted posters.

Creatively it’s as wide open as it gets but demands simplicity, an understanding of the power of context, and what it means to exist in a public space (versus our increasingly secluded, virtual experiences). It’s one of the few places we create for groups to experience together at the same time and has led to some of the most powerful, irreverent, emotional, intelligent and talked about work to come out of our industry in the last few years. 

And it’s a category that constantly pushes what’s possible while also celebrating the value of traditional craft skills. There are always a handful of ideas everyone walks away from Cannes remembering. This category usually holds at least one of them.”

What do you expect to see in Cannes-worthy work this year in your category? 

“Simplicity. When you’re pretty much saying “anything that happens, appears, or exists outside is fair game,” simplicity and clarity of idea is your only chance at having an impact. I’ll also look for executions that take advantage of their context - physical, cultural, societal, etc. 

And craft. Outdoor has always been a craft category, whether that’s an image, a piece of writing, an experience or innovative use of tech - craft matters in this category. But ultimately, Cannes-worthy work always comes down to the idea. I think the best ideas are surprising but feel inevitable. That’s what we’ll expect no matter how they’re brought to life.”

Trevor Robinson, Founder and Executive Creative Director, Quiet Storm 

Category: Industry Craft 

What excites you most about the past and present work in your category? 

“What I’ve always enjoyed most is the way that a great piece of work can make time seem to slow down, and it’s as though I’m observing a piece of art. For me, this is the exciting difference between looking at a concept for a TV script - or even watching a piece of film - to when I’m looking at brilliant pieces of typography or graphic design. I hope to see this across the category this year.”

What do you expect to see in Cannes-worthy work this year in your category? 

“I expect to see a high quota of brilliant work from all over the world. But to be quite honest, I hope to see something unexpected. What I’m hoping for is some courageous, brave, thought-provoking work; something that veers from the norm. I’m forever looking forward to seeing things that I’ve not seen before, executed beautifully. In the past, we’ve always been spoilt with an abundance of excellently laid out and well-crafted executions, but what I’m also looking for in the future work is the added potential of ideas, interwoven with powerful displays of artistry and skill.”

What do you hope you’ll see in the overall work at Cannes in 2019? Conversely, what do you hope you won’t see in this year’s entries? 

I’m hoping to feel a pang of envy, that feeling of “I wish I did that,” which most creatives reluctantly admit is the best barometer of a good idea. What I don’t want to see is repetition. I’m hoping the work will be bold, very bold, this year. 

Jose Miguel Sokoloff, President of MullenLowe Group Creative Council and Chief Creative Officer, MullenLowe Group UK 

Category: Radio 

What excites you most about the past and present work in your category? 

“Radio is one of those categories where budget is not a constraint. It can be done relatively cheaply by anyone, anywhere. However, we’ve heard many times before that it’s hard to make good radio, and the lack of “bling” to hide behind makes it even harder. It is purely about the idea - how smart, how relevant, how entertaining and how different it is, which is the most exciting thing about this category to me. Radio starts hyper-local and sometimes can become truly global, but sometimes when radio spots are very local, fundamental parts can get lost in translation. Having an open mind and giving every single entry the respect it deserves should help and is the least we can do for the teams around the world who submit their work. I hope we find the next big thing in radio this year.”

What do you expect to see in Cannes-worthy work this year in your category? 

“I expect to hear things that capture my imagination and reward me for the time I’ve spent listening to them. I’m looking for clever stories that make a point while using the platform in a way to make it more relevant. It is about the use of sound, about audio, about what we hear. And while technology has made it easier to realize an idea, it still has to be strong enough to tell a story without any visual aid. Most of all, I’m looking for entries that allow me to enter their world, capture my imagination and never let me go.”

What do you hope you’ll see in the overall work at Cannes in 2019? Conversely, what do you hope you won’t see in this year’s entries? 

“I want to see big work for big brands that are making a difference. Frank Lowe used to say “our best work for our biggest clients,” and I hope to see this realized with more and more of the best work we as an industry produce for our best clients. I certainly don’t want to see work created only for the show.” 

Scott Donaton, Chief Creative & Content Officer, Digitas 

Category: Entertainment 

What excites you most about the past and present work in your category? 

“When done right, the work in the entertainment category helps pave the path forward from a world of interruptive, brand-first messaging to one where we create content that people seek out and share. That’s exciting, and it’s the direction we should head in with everything we create, from 30-second spots to 90-minute documentaries. 

Going forward, if you don’t add value to people’s lives, you’re gone. Every brand and every creator should want to put things out in the world that people want to spend time with.”

What do you expect to see in Cannes-worthy work this year in your category? 

“I was fortunate enough to serve as a juror on the first-ever Cannes Branded Content jury and to serve as the head of that jury the second year. That was fun because it was the Wild West and we were helping to define what “best” looked like in a new category. Since then, this category has been refreshed as Entertainment and has been led by jury presidents I genuinely admire, like Jae Goodman and PJ Pereira. What I expect to see is a bar that has been raised and work that reflects how far the content space has come over the last five or so years.”

What do you hope you’ll see in the overall work at Cannes in 2019? Conversely, what do you hope you won’t see in this year’s entries? 

“What I hope I’ll see is work that is worthy of both a person’s time and a brand’s dollars. It’s a tricky balancing act to get that right. What I hope I don’t see a lot of is extended, brand-first ads and product placements masquerading as entertainment.”

Yasuharu Sasaki, Head of Digital Creative and Executive Creative Director, Dentsu

Category: Creative Data 

What excites you most about the past and present work in your category? 

“Every year a new configuration of work is discovered. Creative Data is still a relatively new category, and I find the existence of this very exciting. Originally, creatives embedded invisible data into an idea. With the power of technology, we can make data daringly visible, creating new value for the receiving side. I like the idea of using seemingly rigid and complicated data in fun and unexpected ways, as with, for example, Unilever’s “Gene Project” that captured a Gold Lion in 2018.”

What do you expect to see in Cannes-worthy work this year in your category?

“Not too long ago this category included works that just visualized the data right in front of your eyes or that only used AI. However, I think Creative Data is a category with greater potential. The question is, how do we mine data to create a new perspective that makes the idea a big leap forward? How do we go from just interesting data to data that moves people? What I’d like to see is a marriage of data and creativity never before seen. Not only data to improve efficiency, but data that sparks emotion that inspires people, makes them laugh or moves them to cry. I’m looking forward to the application of such work. To that end, we may need to organize a different kind of creative team.”

What do you hope you’ll see in the overall work at Cannes in 2019? Conversely, what do you hope you won’t see in this year’s entries? 

“Recently at Cannes, increasingly powerful ideas are being used to address significant social issues. Examples of this are “Palau Pledge” and “The Talk.” I think that this trend will continue. In keeping with this, what I would like to see in 2019 is not just big issue themes, but ideas that tackle local and near-term challenges that are facing smaller, micro-communities. I’m looking forward to meeting work that embodies a closer connection between societies, people and brands in such a way that truly reflects a brand’s character.”

Margaret Johnson, Chief Creative Officer and Partner, Goodby Silverstein & Partners 

Category: Film 

What excites you most about the past and present work in your category? 

“Last year, “The Talk” and “It’s a Tide Ad” tied for the Grand Prix in film, which shows the thematic range of work in this category. I expect, like last year, ideas that make a point to shift culture and great storytelling will win big in 2019.”

What do you expect to see in Cannes-worthy work this year in your category? 

“The world is such a divided place at the moment, and I expect to see films that reflect where we are today in culture.”

What do you hope you’ll see in the overall work at Cannes in 2019? Conversely, what do you hope you won’t see in this year’s entries? 

“I hope to see work for real, paying clients. The fact that P&G had two ads tie for the Grand Prix shows that creativity is alive and well. I also hope to see more ads like Tide, that become part of pop culture. I always gravitate toward ideas that have never been done before or take something taboo and make it worth talking about. I also hope not to see a lot of scam [work]!” 

Richard Ting, EVP, Global Chief Experience Officer and US Chief Creative Officer, R/GA

Category: Design 

What excites you most about the past and present work in your category? 

“Past Design Lions have always had a refreshing representation of work across disparate disciplines of design such as brand building, environment and retail, products, UX, UI, and journey mapping. Last year we saw a lot of great purpose-driven and impactful work, particularly the Grand Prix winner Trash Isles to the Save Our Species project by Lacoste. I’m excited to see more work like that this year. It will also be great to see work that is pushing design into the frontier edges of technology, like what Intel did with their drone light show last year, which was phenomenal. I can’t wait to see how the industry is pushing forward into areas like AR, AI, and machine learning, and in general to see the breadth and depth of the design world on display at Cannes. 

What do you expect to see in Cannes-worthy work this year in your category? 

“Cannes-worthy work should always start with clear, simple and bold ideas. Next, the craft of the work has to be impeccable. Once again, I expect to see a large amount of purpose-based work, but I’m hoping we see some humor and levity in the submissions as well. It’s important for us not always to be too serious. I also expect to see more projects where design is driving large-scale efforts to help brands build new businesses, products and services. Design is now center stage, and it’s become an innovation driver for brands, so I expect to see lots of transformational work in the Cannes-worthy submissions.”

What do you hope you’ll see in the overall work at Cannes in 2019? Conversely, what do you hope you won’t see in this year’s entries? 

“There are lots of problems facing humanity today - poverty, climate change, hunger, inequality and much more. I hope to see more work that helps brands provide meaningful value to consumers. It’s a critical time in history, and I think brands, agencies and designers are at the forefront of creating positive change. Let’s also hope to see a body of work that speaks to a diverse and inclusive audience. Any work that is tone deaf and marginalizes segments of society has no place at Cannes.” Featured in Adweek.