Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions Predictions From Former Jury Presidents: Joe Alexander

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Joe Alexander, Chief Creative officer, The Martin Agency
Joe Alexander, Chief Creative officer, The Martin Agency Credit: The Martin Agency

Each year before the Cannes Lions International Festival of Advertising, Ad Age asks creatives execs around the world for their thoughts on what will nab big honors this year. For 2017, we checked in with the festival's former jury presidents for insight into what they believe works best for each category and for their advice to this year's judges. We'll be counting down each day until the festival with their thoughts.

Today, we hear from Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander, last year's Film Lions jury president.

What must win a Grand Prix this year?
"We're the Superhumans" [from Channel 4 via 4Creative]. Hands down, the most compelling and perfectly executed piece of advertising of the year and maybe the last 10 years. I had the privilege to see a very early rough cut last year at Cannes and was immediately flabbergasted by it. Flawless is the word that sums it up best followed closely by joy. If it doesn't win Grand Prix in Film, Film Craft, Cyber and Titanium I will be floored. (The cut to the kid brushing his teeth near the end. Wow.)

Any other work that made you jealous, that you expect to win big?
Fearless Girl and "Meet Graham." Ideas that transcend what has been done before. Ideas that are bigger than any brief could rationalize. Courageous in their ambition. Impactful beyond the intended audience. What else could you ask for?

'Meet Graham' from Australia TAC
'Meet Graham' from Australia TAC Credit: Australia TAC

What's the most overrated idea of the past year? What work that's been getting a lot of attention do you think won't or shouldn't win a Grand Prix?
I hate trolling. So I will tread lightly here. All I'm going to say is there will be an idea that wins a Grand Prix early in the week and juries later in the week will almost feel obligated to consider it for a Grand Prix in their category. Peer pressure, buzz, whatever the reason. But it happens.

What trends in the work did you see from judging last year that you hope won't happen again this year?
Anthemic brand films for athletic brands. Bad-ass track under monologue about digging deep, overcoming obstacles, etc. Shot with a mix of epic wide angles and hand-held black and white. Pithy line at the end. Quick cut to tiny logo.

Any trends you do expect to see?
Every brand has Dove envy. How to stand for something bigger while still selling product. I love it but it just doesn't work for every brand. I'm sure we will see a toilet paper brand claiming to be a force for good.

If there's one category you had to eliminate from the Lions, what would it be, and why?
There is a ton of overlap now between Direct, Promo, Cyber, Media, even Outdoor. That's not Cannes' fault. Ideas are just different now than 15 years ago when the categories started. I'm not sure what the solution is. Maybe it's just updating and defining the categories with an eye toward clarity. But I know it's strange and confusing to all of us when the same execution wins in Direct and Outdoor, for example.

What needs to go away at Cannes? What does it need more of?
I would like to see it made easier -- and cheaper -- for us to experience all of the amazing content that happens. There's so much every day and it's way too expensive to send people. Could we get a deep discount on passes if we spend a certain dollar amount on entries? Could more of the content be available for free back home in real-time? More access plus more sharing equals more creativity. That's [the] Cannes mission.

What advice do you have to jurors and jury presidents for this year?
Jurors: The jury room is full of egos, healthy ones and fragile ones. Be sure to be inclusive. Make sure every judge is heard from and on the flip side, make sure the same voice isn't heard over and over. For presidents, on the very first day, be very clear about your expectations for winning work. What is the criteria? Also, make sure everybody knows the rules and process. You can't repeat the process enough because fatigue sets in and people lose focus. It just happens. You will have shorter days potentially and more time to drink rose.

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