Meet the CMOs of Tomorrow: The Cannes Young Lions Marketers Competition

Young Markets winners Georgia IMG_055417 teams, representing the top young marketing duos from as many countries, converged at Cannes with just 20 hours to solve a creative challenge and present a marketing brief on a global stage before a panel of esteemed judges—all for the chance to win a prestigious Gold Lion.

Ketchum has sponsored the Cannes Young Lions Marketers Competition for the past six years. Just like the spirit of our training program Camp Ketchum, the competition brings together the brightest and most creative marketing minds from around the world to solve an important client challenge. Also like Camp Ketchum, the Young Lions Marketers Competition is a platform for our agency to mentor, inspire and develop young talent in the industry.

I had the pleasure of judging the entries for the second consecutive year, along with Michael Knox, Chief Creative Officer at Grey and Kelly Vanasse, Vice President, Communications at Procter & Gamble, Global Business Units (*client).

Here is a review of the creative challenge and some perspective on the competition’s rigourous brainstorming and planning process, straight from the teams themselves…

The Assignment:
On Wednesday the competitors were presented with their creative brief. Their client was the United Nations and The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda for Sustainable Development focuses on economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Both universal and transformative, the Agenda also specifically aims to spur actions that tackle climate change between now and 2030.

The Agenda is a plan of action for people, the planet and prosperity. But public support is essential. Competitors were asked to: leverage their companies’ brands, products, stakeholders touch points, social media assets, and employees to create a product, campaign or movement that helps achieve the practical goals of the Agenda, while also raising public awareness. They were also asked to focus particularly on the 1.8 billion strong Millennial generation. As Millennials inherit our cities and workplaces, competitors were asked to focus on first time buyers and renters in the developed world who are establishing a home and forming new habits that impact change.

This was no small task. As Dr. David Nabarro, UN’s special advisor for the Agenda, underscored, “You have the opportunity to create the biggest campaign ever for humanity. For the future of our people and the planet.”

The Competitors:
Nino Ungiadze
(project manager/retail communications) and Ana Markozashvili (online lead manager/marketing), Bank of Georgia

Gold winners representing the Republic of Georgia Nino Ungiadze and Ana Markozashvili took home the grand prize. They created a locally impactful idea that allowed their brand, Bank of Georgia, to invite Millennials to support a sustainable cause of their choosing by opening a savings account where the bank matched the interest earned for a cause. The customers were able to crowd source the organizations supported and follow the progress as they are encouraged to save for the future.

“It’s a very big surprise!” said Markozashvili. “We tried not to set our expectations so high, so we didn’t disappoint ourselves. Any kind of appreciation would have been a big surprise. And suddenly we’re on the stage getting gold. It’s very unexpected, but we are so grateful.”

“The cause and creative challenge is so big and so serious.” added Ungiadze. “When we were briefed by the United Nations themselves, we felt inspired and hopefully inspired the judges.”


Erika Gamero
(manager, fabric brands) and Natalia Sánchez de León (manager, dish care brands), Procter & Gamble

When asked about how they break through among a high level of competition in Young Lions, Sánchez de León explained, “I believe that something that represents us as a team is that we are both very passionate. We are passionate in both the ideas we are creating and in delivering the ideas. That’s something that we think comes through when presenting to the judges.”

Teammate Gamero agreed by saying that the Cannes Lions Festival was also an inspiring backdrop to the competition: “It’s an inspiring place with inspiring conversations happening everywhere. We’ve learned about the importance of technology and making sure our brands keep pace with new technologies because the world is changing every moment.”

“We’re not going to settle for mediocre. We want to aim for excellence in everything we do,” added Sánchez de León.

Jean Vargas
(marketing and strategy) and Paola Garces (market researcher), Desarrollo

The Dominican Republic team from Desarrollo emphasized the gravity of starting with good insights. They underscored that a strong insight helped them stand out in their local country’s competition as well as build their presentation for Young Marketers. Although faced with a short time frame to develop a program, Garces said, “To put together a nice presentation in such short time with the right words to say, you have to start with a strong insight.”

Vargas also added that Cannes Lions contributed to his team’s planning process by illustrating how brands can have purpose and support a greater cause. “The Dominican Republic is a developing country. But we can still make a difference. We can use communications to change our country for the better,” said Vargas.

The Young Lions Marketers Competition is a monumental commitment of time and energy from all 34 competitors. And it’s clear that each Young Marketer has enthusiasm for the industry as well as passion for infusing diversity of thought and innovation in communications to instill positive change in their countries and globally. As a judge and a mentor, it was inspiring to be a champion for this powerful global force of creativity. Seeing the CMO’s of the future in action left me excited about the ways marketing can innovate for global good.

Get to know the CMO’s of tomorrow! Discover our competitors’ POV on everything from their personal life goals to what they believe will be the next big disruption in marketing.

Remember to check out’s Cannes social hub for the latest from the festival and join the conversation with #KetchumCannes.