Cannes Lions Evolves: New ‘Effectiveness’ Category Resonates

cannes-lions-orangeAmong Cannes Lions Festival goers the question has loomed larger in recent years: Why are entries judged primarily on their creative merits, and not on their ability to move the needle for clients? After all, the greatest measure of a job well done in advertising is a discernible shift in consumer sentiment or a boost in sales. These and other factors are more traceable to ad creative than they used to be thanks to improvements in research.

Cannes Lions organizers have taken the hint, debuting a new Creative Effectiveness category and stacking the jury with a higher than usual number of client representatives. The list includes execs from Kraft Foods, LG Electronics, P&G, and Brazilian telco Vivo.

The response has been strong. The Festival received 142 submissions from 33 countries by the March 4 deadline, with the U.S. and U.K. dominating. While the number of entries is not high compared to some other broad categories when they were introduced (e.g. Design), the number surpassed Cannes officials’ expectations in light of the intensive submission process, a Cannes spokesperson said.

Among the requirements: agencies and clients are asked to provide extensive support documentation linking the creative work to an impact on consumer behavior, brand equity, sales, and profit. Alongside the usual creative presentations and flashy videos that accompany a typical Cannes entry, they must embed charts, graphs, and tables presenting that data. Cannes Lions has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to ensure submissions are consistent, mathematically sound, and accurate to the source data provided by agencies and clients. It’s partly to pay for PwC’s services that Cannes set the entry fee relatively high at €1,185 (U.S. $1,701) per category submission.

To ensure creative quality, organizers restricted submissions to campaigns that were either short-listed or Lion winners last year.

Entries are scored on four points and weighted to emphasize effectiveness. Those criteria are Strategy (25%), Idea (25%), and Results (50%).

Of the 142 entries, 27 came from the U.S. and 17 from the U.K., suggesting the value placed on creative effectiveness may be higher. Others to make a strong showing include Germany (nine), Autralia (eight), Brazil (seven), and India (seven).

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