July 21, 2021

Unpacking Cannes: Ep. 14 of Red Sky Fuel for Thought Podcast

by Aalastair Sibley in News

What You’ll Learn in This Episode: 

  • How the pandemic changed Cannes—both the festival’s format and its content 
  • What work stood out from the PR Lions in 2021 
  • Advice for brand marketers who want to win a Cannes Lion next year 

Even though the pandemic had most of us homebound for a year, that didn’t stop some movers and shakers in the communications industry from dreaming up world-changing creative ideas. That’s why, for our 14th episode, we travel virtually to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity—considered the largest gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry.  

After being canceled in 2020, the festival was run as a fully digital experience and took place June 21–25. It received 29,074 entries from 90 countries, down only about 6% from 2019. 

In this episode, roundtable panelists James Wright, global CEO of Red Havas and global chairman of the Havas PR Global Collective, and Rachael Sansom, managing director of Red Havas UK, reflect on standout entries in the PR and health categories, in a conversation moderated by Linda Descano, CFA®, EVP and head of corporate communications and executive visibility.  

Rachael also shares what it was like to be a first-time juror for the PR Lions and how COVID played a surprisingly small part in most of the entries she judged. Rather, the two discuss the prevalence of entries focused on issues beyond the pandemic, such as authenticity, unconscious bias and racism. 

As James says, most winning campaigns sprang from a very simple idea that was executed incredibly well. “That’s what all great campaigns do,” he says. “They make you feel something, make you want to act, make you want to laugh, make you angry, make you happy.” 

Both agree that a campaign is only as golden as the measurement that supports it and the purpose that inspired it. Says Rachael, “You can’t really get on the shortlist or have an award unless the measurement is there. And particularly this year, unless there was true purpose at the heart of the campaign, it wasn’t going to go anywhere. On the PR jury, at least one of our key criteria was not just immediate impact, but how the program benefited society or the audience that it was talking to on a long-term basis.” 

The episode wraps up with a Red Questionnaire interview between Ellen Mallernee Barnes, our vice president of content, and Josh Richardson, our new London-based creative director. Versed in multidisciplinary platforms across TV, print, digital, social, radio and DM, Josh is a well-rounded art director and copy writer. Ellen and Josh talk about everything from Josh’s first job—as a lumberjack, no less—to how he works efficiently across time zones to the importance of authenticity in creative work.  

“Don’t be scared to tell the truth,” Josh says. “Even if it’s not brilliant or positive, the truth resonates with people a lot more than any cliché.”  

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