5 Trends I’m Seeing as a Cannes Lions Judge

This post is part of Ketchum’s Cannes*ectivity – insights shared from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Click here to read additional posts.

As part of a truly global group of seasoned PR professionals (including representatives from Japan, Brazil, England and Dubai, among others), I’ve spent the past few days reviewing 250 PR case studies from around the world. These were the cream of the more than 1,130 cases our panel is judging for the PR category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.


Some of these cases have been stronger than others, but all of them offer the opportunity help define what world-class PR looks like today. Without breaking my confidentiality as a judge – and bearing in mind that I am just one of many – here are some emerging trends I’m seeing as a judge at Cannes:

Natural Disasters

Many of the best cases show different creative responses to the Japanese tsunami, the Asian floods and other tragedies. How companies used their creative juices (like using electric cars as emergency energy sources to uploading satellite info in real time) is really amazing.

Lions as Lambs

At least a third of the entries are little more than a clever Facebook or mobile app. It’s important to remember that tech alone is not a PR plan.

Let’s Drink Beer

An unusual number of cases are beer-related. From rebuilding a city to creating a mobile distillery, beer companies have embraced PR as a strong marketing tool. It’s likely that this shift has to do with legislation regarding alcohol advertising, but nonetheless, the creativity is excellent.

Will You Still Love Me When I’m 64?

A significant number of cases have started off with something like, “This well established brand’s clients are getting old (translation: over 40), so we have to reach new generations. Therefore, we cancelled our advertising budgets and devised this amazing online Facebook app (or university student outreach or…) that engaged lots of young under-25 kids…”

In my opinion, this is way off the mark, but don’t faint yet – several great cases are built around “oldies.” For instance, one that I loved gave free tickets to a coveted rock concert to people over the age of 60.

Freebies as Success Cases

Some cases have positioned car companies that provide free loaner cars to people who ask for them on Facebook and/or Twitter as examples of successful outreach. In the midst of all the amazing creativity on display, these smaller types of cases easily get drowned out.

At the end of the day, creativity is most certainly king at Cannes. More to come as we dive deeper into the judging process…