As I write this from cold, grey and wet London, it’s hard to believe that in just a few weeks the world’s marketing and communications geniuses will descend on the sunny South of France in droves for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
The PR community has been making itself felt at Cannes with increasing numbers and influence for the past few years, and there is every reason to think 2014 may be the breakthrough year we’ve been waiting for. So while the creative are choosing which ironic t-shirts to pack and local restaurants are stockpiling crates of rose, let’s make a few predictions:
1. 2014 becomes the year many PR people say they “got” Cannes. While our interest has been mostly around the awards competition and the mainstage speakers, 2014 marks the first year of a Young PR Lions competition. Two-member teams from agencies around the world, thanks to sponsorship of ICCO and the underwriting support of global agency leaders Ogilvy, GolinHarris, H+K Strategies and my own employer, Ketchum, will answer a brief and demonstrate the problem-solving power of PR before a jury of global experts. This is not a prediction, but a fact, but I believe it will mark the beginning of a tipping point, when sufficient numbers of PR people – especially our young influentials – are engaged in the Cannes phenomena to make it part of their annual ‘inspiration diet’ for years to come.
2. A PR agency wins a Gold Lion in a non-PR category. I’m not sure – this may have already happened – but with the quality of PR agency submissions year on year, and with greater familiarity with the overall workings of the festival, I think this will be the year where one of us wins big in another category. And why not? Most great campaigns are designed to be shareable and newsworthy from the get-go.
3. AVE continues to decline as a measure of campaign effectiveness. Last year’s jury made a point of frowning on advertising value equivalency – AVE, the dubious practice of assigning editorial news coverage an advertising value as an evaluation metric. We urged future competitors to use real business, policy, behavioural or social outcomes as the yardsticks for effectiveness. I doubt AVE will die completely this year, but I hope it’s in in its last throes.
4. A PR agency will win the PR Grand Prix! Last year I predicted this would happen within two competitions, but that was a hedge. After visiting many top agencies and national ICCO member associations, I am convinced that this is the year one of us takes home the biggest prize of all from the festival’s Monday ceremony. Network agencies are finding their best work to enter, and smaller independents are stepping into the ring with remarkable entries; surely one of them will prevail this year.
In any case, this year’s festival promises to be a memorable and inspiring demonstration of global creativity, and for the first time ICCO will be on hand to welcome members of the PR community with hospitality and networking. Please look for the ICCO booth in the Palais for information on ICCO activities and events.