Cannes Fest Intros 'Innovation Lion' With New Judging Rules

Ten-Minute Presentation and Q&A Session Required for Shortlisted Entrants

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It's a new year, and for ad agencies, that means another Cannes category.

Shops that enter the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity will need to weigh whether they want to compete for "Innovation Lions" -- described as "a new awards category to honor the technology and innovation which lead to the creative idea being possible."

Annual Cannes ad fest will take place June 16 to 22.
Annual Cannes ad fest will take place June 16 to 22. Credit: Sam Faulkner

The addition of the Innovation Lions brings the total number of separate competitions at Cannes to 16. Last year, the festival added branded entertainment; in 2011 it added a Mobile Lions category.

On the one hand, the new category brings with it an opportunity for firms with strong expertise in building technology to show off what they do best. On the other, it means a more complex set of rules under which they'll be judged.

The show, celebrating its 60th year and taking place from June 16 to June 22, will select a dedicated jury composed of a unique set of participants compared with other Cannes juries. According to a Cannes spokesperson, a president will be announced shortly to preside over a 10-person international jury that will be a mix of technologists from both within and outside of the ad industry, including execs from agencies with technology departments, startups and Silicon Valley figures.

The jury's remit is to highlight "pioneering forms of technology, including, but not limited to, apps, tools, programs, hardware, products and other radical software which have been developed to help facilitate creative excellence in commercials," according to a statement.

Innovation doesn't have the same clear parameters that other categories, such as print or film, do so figuring out what qualifies, and how best to judge it, might be a challenge. That's likely why the category boasts unique entry requirements, including a written proposal and proof of concept, a 10-minute presentation and a Q&A session for shortlisted entrants, which will take place on June 16.

Festival Chairman Terry Savage noted that big ideas that are executed using innovative forms of technologies are already being honored at Cannes. For example, the Nike+ Fuelband won the Titanium Grand Prix, and Mercedes-Benz' Invisible Car won the Outdoor Grand Prix, both in 2012. However, the Innovation Lions are different, he said in a statement. "They will pay tribute to the actual technology that is driving the industry forward and making it possible for these incredible award-winning ideas to come to fruition."

There will be no categories in Innovation, similar to the Titanium Lion. A Cannes spokesperson said examples that might qualify for the category could be something like Thunderclap/De-De, a platform that lets groups of people share a message at the same time, automatically, or Google's Jam With Chrome, a web app that lets users play music with other people, in real-time, within the browser.

The jury will award an Innovation Grand Prix and Innovation Lions on June 18. Deadline for submissions is April 19.

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