The Cannes Case-Study Dilemma: Too Much Energy Being Spent on Presentation, Not the Idea?

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Tonight the final and arguably most coveted honors will be handed out at the Cannes ad festival, among them the Titanium/Integrated Lions. I've had the honor of serving on that jury -- alongside luminaries like the jury president, Wieden & Kennedy Founder Dan Wieden and BBDO top creative David Lubars -- with the responsibility for recognizing the industry's best examples of breakthrough ideas, like last year's Nike Fuelband.

Credit: Leo Premutico

I must admit I came into the judging process thinking we'd be looking for the piece that was going to mark a step up for advertising, something that really signified the progress the industry has made over the last year. A couple days spent watching case study after case study, however, made it clear that we need to think about how all this creative energy is being spent.

Somewhere along the way the case-study film, with its penchant for big, meaningless results, has gained too much influence. The need to create value for consumers is felt more acutely than ever, but still so much of our efforts are about spinning the fantasy that there are millions of people out there waiting idly to engage with brands. These case studies suggest that the public will follow a brand story with the same diligence a jury does a case study film.

According to the films we've seen the past few days, the only topics trending on Twitter are brands, social media was invented for advertising purposes, and consumers have somehow miraculously created more hours in the day that they dedicate to trumping up brands' engagement metrics.

One problem is that the metrics used to demonstrate success have gotten moldy. Being in every medium possible, coverage on the national news, getting one billion impressions -- all these things may be the stuff of the old case study film, but they're no longer the criteria of a jury room. A great insight brought to life through the right channel or channels and realistically told, however, is.

There is no industry better at identifying, distilling and articulating ideas and insights. That fact should give us the confidence that our ideas are bigger than gigantic tallies of impressions and likes. After all, some ideas are so new we don't know how to measure them yet.

My big takeaway from this experience? Our ideas have to take precedence over any presentation format. Because only they will ensure we continue to take brands where no one else can. The best ones make the path ahead visible. They light up the future.

Leo Premutico is co-founder of creative agency Johannes Leonardo.

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