Steve Harrison, Direct jury

Steve Harrison, Direct jury president

Worldwide creative director, Wunderman; chairman, Wunderman U.K.



June 20: I knew things were going to be tricky when I learned that this was the biggest jury ever at Cannes. To keep them focused from day one, I imposed a strict “No Drinking, No Sex” regime. This immediately made me popular, particularly with the Australian judge on the former issue and the Italian judge on the latter.

I also told them what I was expecting of them. I said, for example, that there’s a difference between doing a pan-European mailing for Hewlett-Packard and an ambient campaign for their local florist. Too often, awards judges don’t make the distinction. So I wanted them to look out for tough briefs done brilliantly.

I was also anxious to avoid something else that blights international shows like Cannes: regional voting. In the past, factions have quickly formed. For example, you might get a North European bloc vying to control proceedings. Thankfully, my colleagues were mature enough to avoid this. No mention was ever made of which country a piece of work came from. And I made sure that, unlike in other years, the shortlist (with country of origin) was not made available to the judges while we were still working.

This neutral approach did not mean, however, that there was peace and harmony. Far from it. But it was ideological rather than national differences that separated us. Most proceeded from the definition of direct marketing. Some clung to a traditional one that started with data and ended with results. Others concentrated solely upon the impact of the creative idea. Thankfully, with a couple of exceptions, most gold Lion winners combined elements of both.

And it wasn’t easy when, finally, the Grand Prix came down to two excellent pieces. The first was “Need a Job,” a direct-mail pack aimed at persuading HR managers to buy a booklet that helps their workforce deal with retirement (dry stuff, indeed, and not the kind of brief anyone would fight for). The second was a multi-media campaign for Lynx, aimed at promoting a (fictional) LYNXjet airline complete with voluptuous air hostesses and a Mile High program.

By the criteria I cited above, “Need a Job” was a worthy winner. However, I must admit that I voted for LYNXjet. Why? While “Need a Job” was driven by a brilliant creative idea, LynxJet came from a great campaign idea that, importantly, reinforced and refreshed the Lynx brand idea. The creatives quite simply put together the best brand response campaign I saw all week. And, as it is my opinion that brand response is the way forward for our industry, I felt it was a worthy winner.

Was I disappointed? Nah. Like the other judges, I had my say. Indeed, I made sure everyone was able to talk up any piece about which they felt passionate. That way, I hope all the judges went away feeling they’d been heard and that no one had imposed a diktat upon them. After all, while I was keen on them following my “No Sex” rule, I didn’t want anyone to go home feeling they’d been screwed.