Dave Bowman's Diary from the Direct jury

DaveBowman-thumb-400x300-116852.jpgDave Bowman, joint ECD of Whybin\TBWA Sydney, was a judge on the Cannes Lions Direct jury. Here he gives several day by day insights into this year's judging.

Day One: So, first things first. Traditionally this is the bit where people in my shoes have previously complained about being inside under fluoro lights in front of a telly while it's 23 degrees and sunny directly outside on the Riviera. I won't be complaining about that because it's still awesome. An overused descriptor, but in this case blindingly accurate. This city knows how to accept an overnight dump of 12,000 egos, most of whom haven't had a day (or night) out of their office in months. I've been put up at a strange hotel with a Moroccan theme. Some jurors are moaning about it already. Some find it amusing. I'm with the latter. 

On the Direct Lions Jury this year we've got 2528 pieces of work from 67 categories to get through over the next three days in five groups of five judges. So, at best, in the first three days I'll see around 500 pieces of work.
We get off to a quick start and after brief introductions are right into it. The quality is disappointing at the very beginning, but there are flashes of brilliance that truly humble everyone in the room and let us know immediately where the standard will sit at the pointy end of proceedings. The quality stands out from the word 'go.'

A couple of early observations; I have never seen so many vending machine ideas in one advertising show and about 85% of the entries in the flat mail category now come with a case study video. In fairness we give the entries that purely had a board accompanying them a generous amount of time and observation and in some cases, they stand up more than those with elaborate hype tapes to sell the idea. Reassuring, really.

We finish up after about 12 hours and get an early night.

Day two starts earlier and with more intensity. Some jurors were still in the room close to midnight last night and we're under instruction to maintain a pace for this first stage, as we will see all the work that survives again in the coming days. Sounds good, more time to discuss the ideas when we're down to a more manageable number of a higher quality.

But if I type any more, I'll be making it up, as it's now day three.

Day Four: Okay, so where was I? Over the course of day four, we've somehow gotten ourselves a shortlist. There have been more than a few heated discussions about certain entries. Some were filled with arguments that seemed to carry water from both sides of the fence, others not so much.

I learnt that the idea of friendship is particularly strong and powerful in Latin America during one such exchange, for example. As it turns out, friendship is far more important there than in any other part of the world. This was a supporting argument for one of the stranger campaigns I've seen this week.

Anyway, with 27 opinions in the room you're always going to get some strange results further down the list. But, by the time it gets to the metal conversation we really do feel we're starting to find the best of the bunch.

The agreement at this end is pretty much universal. "Dumb ways to die" is certainly a favourite for all. As is the Starhub "third eye" campaign out of Singapore. So simple, and powerful. Just can't help feeling it would have had even more impact had it enjoyed a few more months to build it's ever-growing army of micro-volunteers. But, we're spoilt for choice.

When it comes time for Grand Prix judging, Mark Tutsell, our jury president really does do us a credit by maintaining order and encouraging all of us to think long and hard about our final decision.

The vote ends up happening three times (by secret ballot) in an effort to break a deadlock between the two campaigns I've just mentioned and finally we have a result. That you already know by now as I've been hopelessly late in getting this diary entry to Campaign Brief.

McCann takes it out and by the time they do, the gents already have another Grand Prix trophy in hand. I suspect that Mr Mescall and friends from Melbourne are going to have quite the week. And deservedly so.

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