Judging the PR Lions at Cannes: Day 3

Today we finished the second round of the overall judging. Our team of five, again a new mix of judges, hail from Singapore, India, Germany, Argentina and USA. Lively debate continued, although overall, we were disappointed by most of the submissions in the following categories: internal, integrated programs and travel/tourism and leisure.

While I can’t divulge those I liked today, countries capturing my highest votes included: Japan and Australia.

To aid our deliberations, and to add more context to our numerical scores, we gave brief descriptions to each number. So, our “unofficial” characterizations follow below (Remember, 1–3 means drop from further review; 4–6 may make the final review; 7–9 absolutely in the finals.):

1 = No comment. Just silence. We were surprised these passed from the first round   of judging we did at home

2 = Nix it. (In many cases a stunt – that really turned us off)

3 = BORING!!! (In many cases a stunt plus something else. Very unoriginal)

4 = Barely ok

5 = Cute

6 = Solid (There were a good many solids awarded. Strategic, ok creative, thorough execution, ok results – just not great)

7 = Very good. Just one or two of the four criteria weren’t superior

8 = Close to Brilliant. A hair off of all criteria being fulfilled and then some

9 = Brilliant. Lively “ahs.” Gave some of us chills. May also be considered for the Grand Prix!

Insights to future entrants: success comes from really original ideas developed from keen insights and ideally some research, with stunning creative, thoughtful execution and results described qualitatively and quantitatively. Again, make sure the goals are crisply defined, ideally quantitatively, and as specific as possible, AND the results round back to address the goals.

A video summary, I predict, will be absolutely critical to win, helping judges sift through the hundreds of entries. Even more important, the video adds emotion, color and vivid results. It is really HARD to judge so many entries. Standing out is extremely important. These don’t have to be high cost, but should be done well. And, pay attention to the design and voiceover.

Another hint: we really disliked clip books as evidence of results. “Aren’t we beyond this?” commented more than a few judges.

At lunch, I had a few minutes with Cannes Lions CEO Philip Thomas. “How was this category added?”

Cannes Lions desires continuous evolution; each year, or so, a new category is added. Design joined a few years back. PR was in discussion for some time, he commented.

“What do you want from the first year of the PR Lions?“

“To be taken seriously and embraced by the PR industry.”

Another prediction: the PR Lions will at least double in entries next year as the word travels regarding these new, prestigious global awards. Thus 422 entries will look more like 1,000 and will continue to grow over time. Total entries to the awards here surpass 22,000, so hats off to the Cannes organizers for a very smooth-running event thus far and to the judges who take their jobs very seriously.

Cheers. Off to dinner.

Need excellent energy for tomorrow’s and Sunday’s BIG debates to award Lions and the Grand Prix.

- Carol Cone