Musonda Katongo's Cannes Diary: Days 5 - 9

IMG_0525.jpgMusonda Katongo, head of design at Y&R NZ, is sitting on the Design Lions jury. Katongo, along with many other jurors is reporting exclusively for Campaign Brief.

After the long day before, in which we settled the short list, I was optimistic that awarding the metal would be an easier process. I was wrong.

We ended up spending 17 virtually uninterrupted hours voting and re-voting on each of the 240 odd shortlisted entries.
It became a fascinating study of the dynamics of group psychology. Sometimes certain people would speak up for or against an entry, and you could instantly feel the mood of the room swing in behind them. Other times you could tell people didn't buy it. Sometimes we'd discuss something, and there'd be an apparent consensus, then the vote (on our tablet system) would come out very differently.

There were some clear standouts, like 'Not a Bug splat,' a human rights campaign in which a massive 20 metre poster of a child's face was laid out in a field near a village on the Pakistan/Afghan border. It was designed specifically to be highly visible and striking to American drone operators - who have referred in the past to civilian and child casualties as  "bug splats."

Another standout was 'Volvo Life Paint' in which Volvo (and Grey London) took the brand ethos of driver safety even further by creating a spray paint for road cyclists that can be applied to any surface, is invisible during the day, but at night becomes reflective to direct light, like a car's headlights.

IMG_0526.jpgWe awarded 13 gold lions, including some simply beautiful Japanese designed posters. From these we needed to find a Grand-Prix, and as non-profit work (including 'Bug Splat') is ineligible (but is eligible for the Grand-Prix for Good), we had trouble arriving at a consensus.

We'd already said that we wanted to uplift work that solved real problems, at genuine scale, so in the end 'Life Paint' was the clear winner. It had great extensions at point of sale, and digital, and has been a wide and ongoing real-world success.

IMG_0539.jpgSo the hard work was done. We emerged from our isolation into the festival heaving at full capacity. It was quite a shock to go from days of just seeing our group of 20 to being amongst the 15,000 or so attendees that were now swarming everywhere. All that was left of our official duty was to attend our category award ceremony the next evening. Each category's show is held in the main Palais theatre, and we were there early, so we got the best seats in the house; front row, middle. It was crazy to think of all the cinema legends that IMG_0567.jpghave sat in those seats as they premiered films on that same screen.

All the Gold winners had someone there to pick up the award. And even for the most cynical there were reminders of how powerful, and culturally affecting, creativity can be.

The guys from BBDO Pakistan were there to collect their 2 golds for 'Bug Splat,' holding up their flag as the MC mentioned they were the first ever Lions won by Pakistan. That's pretty cool, but hopefully it'll help make civilian collateral damage something more talked about, and ideally unverified drone attacks will end.

'Like a girl' also did well, and is something that personally resonated with me. The original ALS sufferer who inspired the 'Ice-Bucket Challenge' was there too, and was helped to the stage, which was pretty moving.

Then it was all over and we were out on the Croisette in the warm night air. Our jury went for a last dinner to celebrate an amazing week.

Over the next couple days I managed to catch 3 interesting talks. RG/A revealed how they've taken innovation development to the next level by becoming a start-up icubator. Finding and investing in new product companies, not just for future revenues, but for ideas pollination and connectedness.

The creators of the 'Serial' podcast were funny and smart, and Al Gore was also great in his chat with Sir Martin Sorrell.

It's been a mind-blowing and inspiring experience, and I've loved every minute. But right now, I can't wait to get home.

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