Cannes Lions

No Grand Prix in First Year for Creative Data Lions

'We Just Didn't Feel Adequate' to Choose One Entry to Represent Category, Says Jury President Sable

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The first year of the Creative Data Lions produced no Grand Prix winner. But it did yield steps toward clarifying what the category is all about and some advice future entrants can put in their databases to maximize return on entry-fee investments.

"We felt this was year one, and that in a category with 11 subcategories that were quite different -- from the notion of data integration to enhancing a story -- we just didn't feel adequate" to identify a Grand Prix winner, said Jury Chair David Sable, Y&R Global CEO. "We felt there wasn't anything that was representative of everything."

Much of the jury's work the first year was defining what the category was about. Mr. Sable said the jury spent two months beforehand sharing articles and thought pieces about what the category should be about.

"It was really quite challenging," he said. "We were very cognizant of the fact that you're setting a benchmark, making a statement, you're hopefully creating a bar you raise next year and the year after."

What won:
While there was no Grand Prix, the jury awarded six Gold Lions. One Mr. Sable called out from the press conference was "Run That Town," a digital game created by Leo Burnett, Sydney, for the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It takes data from the country's 2,500 post codes and lets people see the effect of such things as adding a casino, airport or prison to their towns. The goal was to make census data relevant to people. Mr. Sable said the work took "the most shit-boring stuff you can ever imagine in your life, and turned it into something so compellingly interesting."

Winners didn't need to use the latest tech. Grey, Mexico City, won Gold for a program using SMS text for the Mexican Red Cross, allowing emergency workers to retrieve basic medical information from people they treat.

Why it won:
"The key we were looking for in every entry – is the linkage to data clear," Mr. Sable said. "Everything today uses data some way or another. But was it something [that] if you see it you just get it? We looked for things that made personal data into living data."

The jury:
Mr. Sable chaired a panel of 10 agency executives and one research-industry representative, Eric Salama, CEO of WPP's Kantar. Agency representatives were a mix of creative executives and people in data, innovation or senior management roles. Getting the research industry involved at Cannes was one reason for adding the category, said Philip Thomas, CEO of Lions Festivals.

Hot topic:
Five of the six Gold Lions went to government or not-for-profit organizations, including Local Projects, New York, for the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. The jury turned on its head the usual resistance to non-profit work, which includes a rule against such work winning a Grand Prix, based on the idea that non-profits tend to allow more creative freedom than for-profit clients. "We found here exactly the opposite," Mr. Sable said. Non-profits "need that data to stay alive," for example, by raising money.

Lions awarded:
The jury awarded six Gold, 10 Silver and 12 Bronze Lions across a fairly representative sample of the advertising world, with some tilt toward the U.S., which got six. Four each went to the U.K. and Japan; three to Germany; two each to Russia, France, Australia, and Turkey; and one each to Mexico, Brazil and Hong Kong.

What they didn't like:
"We stayed away from the entries that said, 'Never before seen in the history of mankind,'" Mr. Sable said. "When the entries started that way, you knew you were going in the wrong direction. And we kind of stayed away from entries whose primary data collection device was the Apple Watch. We figured the three people in the world that applied to may make that un-scaleable."

What's next:
"We hope that next year the jury will learn from what we did and as the bar is raised and the work will be better, as it is every year, that the jury will be able to award a Grand Prix," Mr. Sable said.

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