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Inside the Cannes Lions Jury: A Room with a (Point of) View

June 26, 2019

Bureau 42 is a modest, white-walled, fourth-floor room on the edge of the Palais des Festivals – simply furnished with a white rectangular conference table and 10 matching white chairs. What the room lacks in color is made up for by the panoramic window overlooking the Bay of Cannes. This unassuming room would in the course of four long, yet equally inspiring days give way to a collective point of view that effectively set the new creative standard for the PR industry.

We crossed the threshold as 10 perfect strangers, heralding from Brazil, Germany, Singapore, Sweden, Australia, UK and US. Seated elbow to elbow, together we studied and debated more than 350 pieces of work from 67 countries. And, as we did, something magical happened. The work made us smile, laugh, cry, and even feel ashamed or scared. It invited us to reflect on our individual experience and backgrounds. It made us care for, champion and defend work for which we had no affiliation. It made us debate and unpack religious, political and cultural beliefs. And when we did, minds were opened and sometimes even changed.

When it came down to awarding the work, we were guided by the words of this year’s jury president, Michelle Hutton. A protagonist for PR, Michelle states that PR is “a craft, not a channel. A craft that matters more today to businesses, to brands and society at large than ever before.” This standard was upheld as we ultimately awarded 26 Bronze Lions, 22 Silver Lions, 6 Gold Lions and the coveted Grand Prix Lion – each medal sending a clear message about why our craft matters.

PR Lions Jury President, Michelle Hutton

PR is indeed a craft. For this year’s jury, craft means work that is intentionally designed to earn media attention and influence – or, designed with PR input, not just output. It is work that is grounded in research, insights and data that drives the work and strategy and has real impact, not just impressions. It means an idea that is earned-centric; one that tells a story, mission or purpose and is made to live and travel across channels. And, above all else, it is an idea that is a brilliant example of creativity, the kind that makes you jealous.

The concept of ‘craft’ is perhaps best demonstrated by the PR Lions jury’s Grand Prix winner, The Tampon Book – A Book Against Tax Discrimination. It is an excellent example of what modern PR looks like, combining creativity with the craft of public relations. The campaign has public affairs at its core, illuminating a well-defined problem around taxation of luxury goods, one that positions a tampon unfairly as a luxury. It offers a simple solution, putting the tampons in an illustrated book that is taxed at a lower rate. And, it is expertly executed across channels with the intent to make change and influence lawmakers.

PR Lions jury’s Grand Prix winners

The Tampon Book demonstrates that a campaign that sets out to change a tax law can be ‘super-powered’ though creativity. As a jury, we loved that this campaign acts as a call out to the creatives of the world to show public relations has some of the most interesting challenges to solve. In all, we were proud to show that an agency with public relations in its core, along with other creative disciplines, is able to use craft to deliver such a beautiful yet impactful campaign.