Steve Coll's Cannes Diary

Steve coll promo jury.jpgSteve Coll, ECD at Euro RSCG Australia is sitting on the Cannes Lions Promo and Activation jury. The Promo and Activation shortlist will be released around 3pm Singapore time tomorrow Here Steve reports on how the judging has been going.

Day 1
It's my first time on a Cannes jury. And I must say it's rather strange being here in the week before the Festival. Pre-festival Cannes is a completely different proposition from my previous experience. The major surprise is that French people actually live here, something you could be forgiven for missing once the advertising hordes have descended en masse. It's a proper Gallic frenzy of shugging and well-practiced nonchalance.

Our jury gathers for judging at 8.30am. There's a wonderful international contingent of genuinely likeable characters, reinforcing Cannes position as the pre-eminent international show. I've had a good stab at learning all the names of my fellow jurors, but its no easy task. My two favourites are the delightful Ulrika Good from Sweden, and a tremendously talented bloke called from Japan who is appropriately called Messiah. Genius. Our jury kicks off with a bit of a history lesson on previous promo Gold and Grand Prix winners from jury chairman, Nick Worthington. The list includes Gatorade replay, American Rom, Magic Salad Plate, and Matt Ryan's 4th Amendment Clothing. It's a reminder of how great the work in this category has been, and it's a perfect way to ensure the bar is set pretty high.

There's a good vibe as we break up to take on a fairly serious workload. Entries into this category are up massively, and the competition is fierce. After about nine hours judging, with a half hour break for lunch, we have looked at almost 300 entries. The jury has been pretty tough, but fair. Even after this first day of judging, I think making the short-list should be considered a very decent accomplishment.
We finish at about 6pm, then head off to grab dinner and watch the football/soccer. Germany beat their fierce rivals Holland in the Euro 2012. But the Dutch members of our crew seem to take it remarkably well. It seems nothing will upset our jury harmony.

Day 2
I do love listening to the French. French sounds fantastic. Even when the French bloke is on TV is celebrating Spain's fourth goal against Ireland at Euro 2012, I find myself persuaded to believe something wonderful has just happened.

I can tell the locals aren't quite as keen on listening to me speaking French, given the speed at which they break out their best English when I try to order 'deux bier'.

Oddly, there are no French speakers on our Promo jury. Today, I am teamed up with Peta from Argentina, Damon and Ove from Germany, and Pratap from India.

Nor do the French feature highly on the list of countries with the most entries in the Promo and Activation category. Surprisingly, it's the Brazilians who top the list with 273 entries, followed by the US. Australia has a decent amount of entries at 118, more than the UK, with NZ coming in at 42.

And, even though it would be easy for people to be drawn towards their local entries, everyone has been incredibly even-handed. There is a general agreement on the best ideas, although there has been a little bit more debate today than yesterday. Again, it's a pretty full on nine hours of judging.

We saw something close to 200 entries. Every single category has thrown up a few really excellent ideas, and I reckon it will be a pretty lively discussion for the shortlist on Saturday and the winners on Sunday.

Day 3
Day 3 and I'm getting to realize just how smart my fellow jury members are.

The strategic expertise comes from Masaya and Hiroko, planners at Dentsu and ADK in Tokyo, and Rafaella Bertini, head of digital strategy at Legas Delaney in Milan.

Then there are the creative entrepreneurs too. Pablo from Madrid is founder of Bungalow 25, one of the Spain's foremost independent agencies, Manuel runs a super smart shop called Human in Buenos Aires, and Rooney is one of the founders of VCCP, famous for their all-conquering Merkaht campaign. Jaysus! Even more impressively, Pablo tells me he sailed to Cannes from Minorca in the Balearics. Although he confesses the weather was a little rough, and his business partner spent the trip spewing over the side, Pablo still wins 'most glamorous journey to the festival' by a comfortable distance.

It's a room full of intimidating talent, but there's a friendly vibe, thanks in large part to the ever-smiling Gonzalo Figaro. And, despite all the different brains and backgrounds at the table, the jury has been remarkably united thus far. It's clear that simply relying on technology isn't going to cut it. QR codes and augmented reality feature heavily, and we've seen some clever uses of these technologies.

As you'd expect, there are a large number of campaigns with a user-generated idea at the centre. But again, you need to be come up with an original use of this approach in order to stand out. And simply demonstrating integration isn't enough either. Original, attention-grabbing, idea-led work is dominating as the short-list slowly starts to come together.

We've seen some great stuff over the last few days, and day three is no exception. I said earlier in the week that making the short-list would be a good achievement. I reckon picking up metal is going to be pretty tough.

Day three finishes with a trip to the pub, where Euro 2012 is looking like a much less competitive competition than ours.

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