Daniel Morel, CEO, Wunderman Worldwide,Jury President, Direct Lions

Daniel Morel knows a thing or two about winning a Cannes Lion. After all, his agency took home the Grand Prix last year at the Cannes Festival’s first-ever Direct Lions competition.

A direct mail piece for the UK Automobile Association by Harrison Troughton Wunderman, London, offered subscribers who had let their memberships expire an alternative method of travel. The front of the card read “Something to get you home if you don’t restart your AA membership.” The name of the person’s hometown, printed as if handwritten, was written on the back, suggesting a sign to hold while hitchhiking.

“I can see myself at the side of the road in the rain [like that],” says Morel, chairman and CEO of Wunderman Worldwide in New York and president of this year’s Lions Direct Jury. “It’s a simple idea, and very memorable – you have accumulated fear in your target audience.”

It may be an unconventional idea, but Morel, who has been chairman and CEO of Wunderman Worldwide in New York for two years, isn’t looking for conventional pieces. A good direct campaign, he explains, is relevant to its target audience; it generates a reaction from its audience; it generates measurable results for the client and it reminds consumers of previous campaigns for the product.

In order to accomplish all of this, the creative has to “break through the clutter” to make the viewer stop what he or she is doing to give the campaign full attention, says Morel, whose off-work interests vary from the opera and cigars to backcountry skiing and rugby.

Morel, a native of France, has advised his judges to throw any cultural prejudices out the window before entering the judging room. “The flags should be left at the door,” says Morel, who in his three decades in direct marketing and advertising has traveled throughout offices in Europe, Asia and the Americas. “It’s the UN of creativity out there.”

Direct entries are up 5 percent from last year to 1123. Preliminary judging began last month, when Morel received a suitcase containing more than 1,000 booklets and CDs from around the world. The panel’s 23 offsite judges culled those down to about 700 to compete in the festival this week.

At Cannes, 21 other judges will choose the Grand Prix, Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions. Creativity will account for 40 percent of each entry’s score, with strategy, execution, and result each garnering 20 percent, says Morel, whose agency has entered seven samples from its New York headquarters and 50 overall from its network of 80 offices.

While he plans to keep nationalistic voting out of the jury room, he won’t discourage disagreement among his panel. “I want them to be passionate about what they support; we’re looking for a vibrant discussion with peers” rather than agreement, he says.