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July 27, 2023
Christian Di Virgilio

Five heavy-metal thoughts following Cannes ‘23

And… breathe. Cannes 23 is now done and dusted. But if you’re like me, you’ll be feeling a tiny bit of envy and wondering how everyone on your LinkedIn won all those shiny metal awards.

It got me thinking about all the ways our industry shares work, and how studying it could get me closer to winning next year. So here are five of my thoughts, along with a bunch of resources so good, they’re practically illegal.

One - We can get more judge-y with our thinking

It’s amazing how creatives are making valuable resources to help each other learn, and win. This year, a group of creatives put together an online game called The Loudest Roar. The platform gave everyone the chance to think like a Cannes Lion Judge. The simple by-line read: We believe the best way to create great work is by learning how to judge what makes it great.

The aim of the game was to predict which campaigns will perform best in each Cannes Lions category. Players were then ranked and scored on how right they were. It was a chance to improve your idea-judging abilities. And when you’re in the industry, those lessons are priceless.

Two - Case studies, for everyone!

In the past, access to award winning case studies was limited. But those days are long gone. You no longer need to be in the industry to ‘borrow’ a login (or an Award Annual).

The Loudest Roar, similar to Love the Work More, does a great job of giving anyone and everyone access to award-winning case studies. Personally, I’m not exactly sure on the legality of sites like these, but hey, that’s not my job. The point is, sharing truly is caring, and although we’re in a continuously competitive industry, there’s no reason we can’t compete in the right way: by pushing each other to be better.

And besides, Love the Work More is a such a fantastic piece of punk advertising. It was originally set up to circumvent the $2,000 fee that Cannes charges to access its archive – a steep price to pay when you’re a junior anything. Essentially, two creatives gathered the winner’s shortlist from Cannes. They then linked to the case studies that were floating around on agency websites, YouTube and other sources. No Cannes Archive (or $2,000) signup fee necessary.

As we know, advertising and marketing continues to change rapidly, and I think we (kinda) owe it to the legends behind sources like these. They keep the young talent of the industry fed, both in the literal and mental sense.

Three - Learning starts early and never stops

While studying the industry and its past is important (like any other industry), ingesting what’s currently happening is equally so. Sources like LinkedIn, Activation Ideas, The Deck of Brilliance, Julian Cole’s Planning Dirty, or organisations such as Advertising Council Australia all help to aid this constant waterfall of learning. They push us to do great, effective work.

We should celebrate open sources like these, particularly for the juniors of our industry. A large share of workers in the advertising and marketing industry are aged between 25 – 34, with a median age of 35. It’s one of the lower figures when compared to other industries.

We’re lucky at AFFINITY, where initiatives like Library Hour and Thinking Thursdays encourages the constant push to think smarter and create better work. It gives us time to explore these resources and really make the most of what they offer.

Four - Award season makes the advertising world seem like Disney Land

Just looking through The Loudest Roar, I was excited by the ease, accessibility, and breathing space of the site. It’s like YouTube for ad nerds.

This is the place where an island that’s being preserved on the metaverse, and an outdoor campaign for an airline both get to share the highest accolades. Everything suddenly seems possible in advertising and marketing.

Plus, it shares key lessons, opportunities, inspiration, and a whole bunch of other things we can draw on for next year’s award submissions, in a fun way. Who’d say no to jumping on that ride?

Five - But does cool shi* sell shi*?

From an AFFINITY point of view, all this cool shi* is cool. Our agency always asks: Yeah, but did it work? At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. The great Jef I. Richards once said, “Creative without strategy is called art. Creative with strategy is called advertising”.

It’s fun to get wrapped up in the joy of Cannes. But as this chart shows, it doesn’t always necessarily lead to the miraculous turnaround the slick case study claims.

Cannes Lion won - Ad Forum V's Annual Sales Growth graph

To wrap it all up…

It’s easy to look past resources like these. But they’re extremely useful for those in and around our industry.

Our work and thinking should be shared with pride. We’ll learn from each other and make the industry stronger (and therefore our brands more aligned to consumers). Plus, it’ll most likely just build your brand/agency reputation further.

Platforms like the Loudest Roar also act as a bit of a springboard for professionals of other industries to dip their toes into our industry. After all, what other field does stuff like this?

If you’re curious, I found time to vote for three of the five categories; two of which were correct.

See you at next year’s Cannes!


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