Alan Kelly has the foundation of 10 years of copywriting experience, after which he moved from CD, to ECD and now to CCO of Rothco, part of Accenture Song. During his time at Rothco, the creative agency became Ireland’s biggest and most successful one, and historically has scored big at Cannes, as well as at D&AD and The One Show.
Alan is thrilled to be this year’s jury president for Creative Data at Cannes Lions and is prepared for all the surprises his category might dish out tomorrow. As one of the newer categories, Creative Data to Al is one of those competitors that really set the precedent for the years to come and the one thing he will be on the lookout for this year is true, authentic purpose. LBB’s Zoe Antonov caught up with Alan to find out what else is in store for Creative Data this Cannes Lions.
LBB> How are you preparing for the jury room this year?
Alan> I have been preparing for the jury room by making my kids call me Mr President for the last few weeks. They didn’t want to at first but then I unplugged the wifi so they soon saw sense.
LBB> What is it about the Creative Data category that really excites or interests you?
Alan> Creative Data is one of the newer competitions, so it feels like we are setting the bar and the parameters for the category for years to come which is pretty exciting and a bit daunting.
LBB> And what are the current big debates within that specific category - or more generally across the industry - that you expect to see coming through in the judging?
Alan> In a word – purpose. Over the last couple of years if the cheese or cola brand you were working on wasn’t trying to save the oceans - were you even working in advertising? I think juries are getting more and more sceptical of brand purpose that feels inauthentic.
LBB> It’s the first in-person Cannes since the start of the pandemic, a pivotal moment for an industry that’s been massively disrupted - how do you think that’s going to shape your thinking about your category in particular?
Alan> I don’t think it will shape my thinking, to be honest. I have been judging the early rounds online and as always the best ideas score big and the not so good ideas score small – pandemic or no pandemic and that’s the way it should be. I will say this though, I’ll have a smile on my face when I’m judging in Cannes this year. It’s such a thrill to be asked to be part of the jury and it being the first in-person Lions for a few years – I, like many others, will be extra grateful to be there.
LBB> Data and creativity are usually thought of as polar opposites, so how do you believe they reconcile in the best ways possible to reach some untapped resources within the creative?
Alan> I think we all need to think of data as something bigger than a piece of information that leads to an insight. Data can be little building blocks in themselves, little building blocks that can build something, something amazing - as we proved with all the tiny pieces of data that built JFK Unsilenced. The data category is getting reimagined every year and the previous parameters are getting stretched and in some cases smashed.
LBB> Do you believe data will dominate the coming ten years in the industry and why?
Alan> ‘I have no idea’ is the only truthful answer to this question. Nobody knew about stupid Monkey Pox until three weeks ago - so I don’t think we as a species are particularly good at predicting anything.
LBB> What are you hoping to see in your category this year?
Alan> Something unexpected, a curveball…something that will take the category in a completely new direction for next year’s lucky jury to get excited about.