What it's like to be a judge at Cannes Lions

Will O'Rourke EP and head of projects Josh Mullens
By Will O'Rourke EP and head of projects Josh Mullens | 27 June 2018

Brand Experience & Activation was a new category at this year’s festival focused on experiential led ideas and projects. So it was great to be a part of the jury that helped define the category for the years ahead.

Some other categories were retired from the festival last year, including Integrated and Promo & Activation, and some elements of these two live on in this new arena, now focused on experience.

Wide arrays of different projects encompass this experiential wheelhouse. Installations, retail, live events, social media, live games, product design, mobile, devices, mixed reality, AI, digital installations, touchpoints, tech-led, standalone, sponsorship, partnership, I could go on. The breadth of the projects that made it into the shortlist was testament to this. Any work that gets shortlisted, or goes on to receive metal at Cannes, should be celebrated, as the bar is set very high.

In terms of our judging criteria we placed a heavy focus on how these experiences activated (and integrated) into people’s lives. How it showed up in culture. Creating more valuable user experiences for the public. Doing not saying. Making an impact and getting results.

The final awarding jury was a fun group to work with from the USA, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand, the UK, Spain, France, Germany and Australia. And the pre-judging phase prior to arriving in Cannes was completed by a larger 45-person strong jury from 42 different countries. The metal awarded this year helps define the category, so it was important for us to be varied in the delivery across golds, silvers and bronzes, to demonstrate the versatile style of work that is done in this space.

Some pieces also did well in other areas of the festival, which is testament to one juror’s comment that this category is like the modern version of Integrated. The best experience led work needs to be multifaceted and far-reaching. 

Knowing you are all busy people, I encourage you to look up at least the Gold and Grand Prix awarded work if you haven’t seen them before. Golds were given out to Skittles Exclusive The Rainbow, Burger King Scary Clown Night, Carrefour Black Supermarket, MGM Resorts Universal Love, A/R Jordan, Downtown Records Live Looper, Intel Drone Light Show at the Olympics, Microsoft Xbox Design Lab Originals: The Fanchise Model, Diesel Go With Fake, Lacoste Save Our Species, and Host/Havas’ Palau Pledge. All of these golds were amazing experiential ideas and projects 

The Grand Prix went to Today at Apple. The project was an inspired reimagining of how Apple activates within their 501 stores globally, to create more of a community hub. At the press conference our jury president Rob Reilly said, “In a time where retail is dying, this brand is figuring out to be meaningful in people’s lives today, and I think, for another hundred years.”

Given governments and councils around the world have less time and less money to give back to their communities, brands now have an opportunity to give back with experiences in very important ways. That’s an exciting prospect.

Will O'Rourke EP and head of projects, Josh Mullens 

comments powered by Disqus