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I have never been to Cannes and therefore felt a bit inexperienced at the briefing session for the Guardian Young Lions winners.  I have judged in the UK but I have no experience of the fabulous festival of advertising and media that has been running for years in the South of France following the more famous film festival.  No sooner however have the red carpets been cleared of the likes of Brangelina and Paris Hilton then the hotels and yachts prepare for the crème de la crème of advertising.

Luckily a giant of the creative industry who has masses of experience of Cannes Bil Bungay – creative partner of BMB was there to give his advice to the winners who are going through to represent the UK in France between 21st and 27th June this year.  Bil’s advice to the competitors was succinct: judges will be looking for an “outstanding piece of thinking” and he added Bill Bernbach’s dictum “if your advertising goes unnoticed everything else is academic”.

The competitors are actually already UK winners having won GNM’s competition in either print or cyber creative or in media.  Aidan McClure and Laurent Simon from AMV, Alex Shapowal and James Hay from Lean Mean Fighting Machine and Asher Burrell and Jon Marchant from MediaCom go to fight it out amongst teams from 50 countries.  They will receive a charity brief and 24 hours to craft an ad or in media’s case to write a strategy and a 5 minute pitch (10 slides maximum).

My advice to them was obvious – be clear, simple and authentic.  You haven’t got long to impress the international team of judges.   But even so there is a difference between the output of an ad which has a couple of seconds to impress and getting across a media strategy which involves good story telling and a strong logical flow.  Young Lions awards are appropriate for creative display involving as it does a strong showing of a huge mane and healthy roar.  For media perhaps the award should be the Young Sharks  – obviously because sharks (like media planners) need to constantly move forward in order to survive and indeed because sharks are predatory and brands need predatory thinking in these troubled times.  Or maybe it should be the Young Octopus award – as 8 tentacles would be useful in times like these to keep up with all of the changes in media that are going on and to allow lots of plate spinning?  Really though I think the Young Bees awards would be best, as every good planner collects data and insight from as many places as possible and then turns it into a golden strategy – exactly like bees with nectar and honey.  Essential, hardworking and always busy.  And of course the cyber advertising award should be the Cannes Digital Cookie Monster award.

Wish the teams luck – let’s hope that Eurovision voting politics are in abeyance and the world is once again convinced that Britain’s got talent.

As seen at Mediaweek.co.uk

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