Noelle McElhatton, the former editor of Marketing magazine, spoke to Cannes Lions chief executive Phillip Thomas to find out.
1.Win across as many Lions categories as possible
The key indicators of a winner, Thomas explains, are a declaration of creative intent by brands followed by a significant increase in the number of Lions won across the different categories, geographies and with a variety of agency partners. “Spread is quite important,” he says. “For instance if a client had a huge year with one piece of work from one country and one agency, that wouldn’t be enough to indicate a systemic organisation wide belief in creativity.
2. Sustained creativity is key
What Cannes Lions wants to avoid with this award, Thomas says, is the flash-in-the-pan syndrome and instead looks for “sustainable improvement” in creative output over a few years.
“You do get these weird, one-off incredible winners and the obvious example is from last year – Dumb Ways to Die by Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia,” Thomas explains.
“And if you did it quantitatively [in one year] then Metro Trains would win Creative Marketer of the Year, but in fact what it did was one piece of amazing work. And that’s not what we’re trying to highlight.”
3. Size matters – but only to a point?
Global brands tend to win and Thomas admits that “it is more difficult for smaller, local brands to win because they quite often have one piece of work that makes them stand out. Global brands or advertisers can drive creativity right across their organisations through agency partnerships.”
That said, Thomas is at pains to point out that the award has a qualitative element to avoid “the same people wining because of their scale. So based on number of Lions won, [the likes of] Unilever, P&G and Coca Cola would win again and again. Which isn’t the point. The point is to encourage clients to do good work.”