5 Tips for Brands From an Entertainment Juror at Cannes

Marketers need to remember that authenticity is key

Brands at Cannes need to have courage to succeed.
Marian Brannelly

I’ve just spent 60 hours in the proverbial Cannes basement.

It’s traditional to bemoan the conditions in which jurors suffer in Cannes. Yes, it might be nicer playing volleyball on the beach but professionally there’s nothing to beat it. I’ve come away inspired and determined to push harder in the years to come.

Misha Sher

The Grand Prix Winner “Beyond Money” really demonstrates what Entertainment Lions can be and was agreed unanimously by a jury that was truly representative of our industry, with media, talent, production, creative, music and brand professionals all in the room.

What we learned from this Santander campaign is that entertainment can be truly transformational for brands—even the most challenged brands operating in some of the most challenging times. Spain was one of the countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis and it’s hugely impressive that a bank found a way through entrenched consumer resistance. This wasn’t just a great piece of work for Santander. It moved the entire category forward.

My five key learnings from my jury experience were:

1. Authenticity

Looking at all the work that was awarded the top prizes, authenticity was at their core. Not only was the content beautifully crafted, it felt authentic and true to the brand. The Lion winner “All That We Share” by Danish broadcaster TV2 was a perfect example of this. So many pieces of work tried to address the ‘we have more in common’ theme but TV2 managed to do it in a way that felt real and believable and was true to the brand.

2. Bravery

When there is so much competition, you have to stand out. Whether it’s the story or the way in which it’s presented, we wanted to see something that genuinely moved us. Gold winners “Love Song By a Murderer” and “Evan” are perfect examples. They shocked the jury to the core in how they crafted the narrative. They had us talking for days and it’s no surprise that both had such an impact on their markets.

3. Craft

Great entertainment is all about storytelling. It can be an incredibly powerful story but if the delivery falls short, it won’t get recognized. The question brands should be asking themselves is, will people interrupt what they’re doing to give you the time? Would they pay for it because it’s so good? Nowhere is this more obvious than in double gold winner “Lo and Behold” which was a branded entertainment piece pulled off by an internet security company. Let that sink in for a minute.

4. Brand/consumer impact

When you’re evaluating so much great work, you have to look beyond the surface and ask the hard questions. We liked the work, but did it deliver for both the brand and the consumer? More importantly, and this is where we separate the best from the rest, was the overall result better than the sum of its parts? If the answer is yes, and it’s rare, then you’re likely to be a winner. Beyond Money is a perfect example of this.

5. Consistency

One of the most critical components of brand marketing is crafting and communicating a clear and distinctive positioning. That positioning should come through everything the brand does and branded entertainment is an extension of that. While it’s tempting to attach a brand to some of the biggest and culturally relevant topics, it’s important to ask the question: Is this consistent with how we communicate our position in all areas? At times it felt that some brands wanted to be everything to everyone and in the end only confused and weakened their position. Own something that people know you for and will believe. If not, you risk being seen as trying to capitalize on something that doesn’t belong to you.