Cannes Lions Day 1: Industry discusses crises & challenges of creating winning ads

Day 1 of the Lions packed in the insights into the big wins at the fest

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Published: Jun 22, 2021 9:26 AM  | 5 min read

After reams of conversations on whether the Cannes Lions should be an in-person event or an online-only one, the bestowing of the Lions finally resumed on June 21 with the return of the festival, albeit in virtual form. While azure seas of the French Riviera, the rose, the live networking sessions, and yacht parties were missed, day 1 of the Lions definitely managed to dish out some thought-provoking discussions. The day overall was marked by adland discussing creating through crisis, climate change and how a more diverse representation of the world through the industry’s works is of the essence during these times.

The day was off to a great start with Juan Senor, President, Innovation Media Consulting, announcing the Lions Health Awards from Cannes; including the Pharma Lions, Health & Wellness Lions, the UN Foundation Lions Health Grand Prix for Good, the Healthcare Agency of the Festival and the Healthcare Network of the Festival. Other categories like the Print & Publishing Lions, Design Lions and Outdoor Lions, and the Young Lions Print and Design Awards too were announced. 

On the awards front, among the many highlights of day 1 was FCB taking home 5 Lions, including the Gold Lion on day 1 of the prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2021.

This was followed by the Pharma Lions Debrief. Here, the Pharma Lions Jury President Anne de Schweinitz in London who is also FleishmanHillard, Global Managing Director, Health & Life Sciences Practice, Parixit Bhattacharya - TBWA/India and Sonoo Singh - Creative Salon who delved into all the winning work, along with some of the winners. With comments from the jury, the session unpicked some of the winning work in detail and what gave it an edge over the rest.

One of the most awaited and insightful sessions had the likes of Talent: Philip Thomas - LIONS, Mark Read - WPP, Maher Nasser - United Nations, Wendy Clark - Dentsu International, Amina Mohammed - United Nations, Conny Braams - Unilever and Matt Brittin of Google discussing climate change and the industry’s work in this arena. The panel delved into topics like how our industry is fighting climate change, and how we can do it faster, together. The session further discussed whether we are doing enough to reduce our own emissions and whether the creative industry through its work and efforts is doing enough to help people move to a more sustainable way of living while stimulating too much demand for non-sustainable products. It concluded that the industry needs to take the collective responsibilities seriously enough and keep at creating conversations and walk the talk when it comes to this discourse.

Another session- The Daily Agenda had Lisa Smith - Jones Knowles Ritchie, Paloma Azulay - Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Horton’s, Ellie Doty - Burger King set the agenda for driving creativity at this time of need. The talk called "How To Be Yourself (But Way Better)" discussed Burger King’s interesting branding journey. The year was 1999, when the folks at Burger King thought “Hey, it’s a new millennium, we should celebrate it with a new logo!” The session discussed how what happened to Burger King’s branding in 1999, was, well, wrong and how the team decided to fix the brand. They figured that it would be best to go back to when the brand looked their best, and start from there. And when people took to Twitter asking “Doesn’t this kinda look like your old logo?” the brand proudly said a yes!

This was followed by the Print & Publishing Lions Jury President Liz Taylor in Chicago who is also Global Chief Creative Officer Leo Burnett/Publicis Communications, Nkgabiseng Motau - Think Creative Africa, Jessica Wohl - Ad Age for a one-hour special show which featured data analysis, interviews with the jury and winners talking through their work.

The next session Meet Up hosted by Debbi Vandeven, Chief Creative Officer of VMLY&R gave a chance to the industry to connect with their peers and share their experience on how to navigate what works and doesn’t work for brands in the ever-changing social landscape. The Meet Ups drew from the power of collective thinking - something creativity needs more than ever. 

Another awaited session of the day was P&G presenting ‘Widen the Screen to Widen Our View.’ 

Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of P&G and an all-star line-up with Creator #OscarsSoWhite, April Reign; award-winning Writer/Director, B. Monét, Founder, Cartwright and Co-Founder SATURDAY MORNING, Keith Cartwright; Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Kevin Wilson Jr.; Artist and TikTok Star MegaGoneFree; and Chief Executive Officer at EBONY & JET, Michele Ghee shared P&G’s journey in making equality THE systematic way of bringing creativity to life and also the challenge and the need to share ideas to make the interventions needed for more equal representation in the creative and media supply chain. The panel concluded that when we make choices that ‘Widen the Screen’ to represent more of the world’s consumers more fully, we can widen our view to see and create a more equal future.

Next up the Health & Wellness Lions Debrief had Health & Wellness Lions Jury President Tom Richards in London who is also Global CCCO at Real Chemistry's 21 GRAMS, Charlotte Williams - LIONS, Prateek Bharadwaj - Lowe Lintas for a one-hour special show which had data analysis, interviews with the jury and winners talking through their work.

The Outdoor Lions Debrief featured Outdoor Lions Jury President Luiz Sanches in Sao Paulo for a one hour special show in conversation with Luiz Sanches - AlmapBBDO, Karin Onsager-Birch - Lyft, Fernando Scheller - O Estadao discussing the data analysis from participation, interviews with the jury and winners talking through their work.

The day ended with Lions Wrap Up that had Susie Walker, Vice President of Awards and Insights, LIONS pulling the 10 most important stories into a neat package for the audience to enjoy and stay up to speed.

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