This year, Cannes Lions organizers are introducing Lions Entertainment, a new two-day "festival within the festival" that comprises the Entertainment Lions, a newly rebranded category formerly known as Branded Content and Entertainment, and the Music Lions, highlighting the critical role of music in marketing and advertising.
Jae Goodman, chief creative officer and co-head of CAA Marketing, a division of Creative Artists Agency, won the inaugural Branded Content Grand Prix for Chipotle's "Back to the Start" when the category was introduced in 2012 and this year serves as Entertainment Lions jury president. He spoke with Ad Age about the evolution of Entertainment Lions and what it means for the category and festival going forward.
Ad Age: What was the mandate Lions organizers gave you?
Jae Goodman: I wouldn't say it was so much a mandate as the conclusion of an 18-month-long conversation that a few of us in the creative community were having with the executives at the organization. On the heels of no Grand Prix in Branded Content and Entertainment, we had a really strong point of view that the categories were overly reflective of the advertising industry and underrepresentative of entertainment. We went back and forth and essentially concluded together that every entry would be work by and for a brand, but that work should reflect the type of ideas that we find in entertainment and culture. Then Cannes came back with the idea that therefore we should change the name to Lions Entertainment.
Ad Age: In the last two years, the jury decided not to award a top prize in the category. Has there been a crisis of creativity in branded content?
Mr. Goodman: I think there was a crisis of definition, and what was happening is marketers and agencies were submitting things in both the advertising categories and branded content and entertainment categories and hoping for the best. I've spoken to jurors in the past, in cases when we had work that won a bunch of Golds and there was still no Grand Prix, so I had a strong bias behind my line of questioning. They said it wasn't that the work wasn't great—our work and anybody else's—it was that it wasn't so markedly different as work that had won in other categories. And they felt like in order to give it a Grand Prix in the category, it had to truly represent branded content and entertainment. I think there was a crisis of definition, which is why we worked so hard to move it toward "entertainment."
Ad Age: But so much of advertising is entertainment now. Even a 30-second spot can be entertainment, judging from how much pass-around it can get on social media. How are you making the definitions more precise given this landscape?
Mr. Goodman: Forgive me for getting into semantics, but I would say a 30-second commercial that gets passed around on YouTube is "entertaining," but I wouldn't define it as "entertainment." That piece of content was created to be interruptive in the midst of entertainment that a person tuned in to enjoy. On the other hand, a great clip from a television show that happens to be created by a brand that gets passed around in the same way, I would say that is entertainment.
Ad Age: Why does Cannes Lions need a separate show for entertainment?
Mr. Goodman: I'm hyperaware of that criticism: As an industry overall, that focus on awards, for some, sometimes supersedes focus on clients' business results. I don't necessarily share it. I think for any great marketer or agency, job No. 1 is to deliver business results. I think marketing in general is in a moment of wonderful turmoil. The established media model and the metrics associated with it are less relevant than they've been in the past 50 years. I see an industry redefining itself and part of that necessitates new categories, yet holistically I can understand why agencies writing checks for awards shows might say, "Enough, already."
Ad Age: Can you talk about any of your favorites going into this year?
Mr. Goodman: I can't because we're now in prejudging, but what I can tell you is that I have been really pleasantly surprised. I can also tell you that with the new category, the jury is taking definition very seriously, of course, as we are quality. But yes, I have total favorites. I just can't tell you what they are.
Ad Age: One of the complaints I've seen in this category is that the judging process is flawed, that you may sometimes be subject to judging something that's hours long through a case study video—like rewarding an Oscar from a movie trailer. What's changed this year?
Mr. Goodman: This is not in the official rules, but I asked for permission to make an additional rule for our category, that if any one judge wants to watch the entire piece of content, then we all must watch it, and only when a majority of judges says stop, do we stop watching. So if one judge thinks something is in contention for a short list, then we will all watch it until a majority of the judges says, "No, it's not."