Cannes Diary: ‘Chaperoned to the Jury Room Like Naughty Children’
I arrive in Cannes at 19:00 and I’m picked up and swept into the Martinez for welcome drinks. I carefully slide round the event reading name badges well beyond my focus range looking like a strange squinting old woman. We politely all shake hands and get excited when we find another Cyber judge. The journey ahead is unknown and people are fresh and buzzing.
A chaperone picks us up every day at 8:30am. Twenty keen jurors walk to the Palais des Artistes. It’s hilarious, a bunch of over 40s needing to be chaperoned to the judging room like naughty children who might get lost, behave badly or get distracted by a beach. I think Cannes Lions has years of experience under their belt. We are all introduced to the Cyber room which has 20 computers with headphones and start to watch and score 2,800 pieces of work for the shortlist. Lunch comes and goes and we plod on until the early evening.
Exactly the same as yesterday. The two days have blurred and I have lost track of the days already. We are split into groups of four to get through the waves of work. Today we had boeuf and sunshine and ate outside under the Cannes blue sky.
More headphones on my own. I feel insane. I can’t believe how much work we have to get through. I have seen great stuff already but I keep finding better and have to go back and adjust all my scores. Every day we discuss what filters we are using to judge the work. Does it have a good idea at its core? Does it have a high level of craft? Does the idea have no dead-ends? What does this say to the rest of the world if we give this an award?
More discussions about our filters. Should we separate “the cause” from “the idea”? We have cried and laughed through the work. A huge body of emotional charity and social purpose films keep reminding us how lucky we are. Refugee loss and Syrian journeys. Premature babies and bullied teenagers. Breast cancer and texting while driving campaigns. Child brides and animal influencers end the day with Keyboard Cat showing us the way home.
There’s a change of room layout and we open up discussions. At last we talk properly about the work. The shortlisted work is being pulled apart and tested against our instincts, our morals, our international creative styles and YouTube data. Often just talking about the work and listening to different perspectives or local information can completely change your opinion. We have to raise our hands to talk and stand up so everyone can hear. We are often lost in translation so having respect and time to be heard is important.
The final shortlist is ranked by voting numbers and we study the results of our hard labour. A large collection of 300 pieces of work and we have to break that down into about 80 awards in a pyramid of up to 40 bronzes, 25 silvers and 15 golds. As we start to review, our awards start to disappear at a high speed. We nip and tuck until we balance our inspiring collection of awarded work.
A final tidy up of awarded work allows us to select one upgrade entry each. This is really satisfying and clean. We tend to find harmony amongst the jurors as the hunt for good work has turned and the good work has found us. The instinctive decisions feel right. We end up with a wonderful collection of awards that we all feel very proud of. After a snappy 30 minute lunch we return to take the final step of awarding the Grands Prix. This was the most surprising part of the journey and in fact we selected two Virtual Reality pieces that did not sit comfortably with the group. I think VR is drifting in this year but it is not quite ready for Grand Prix status. We have our four filters and a special Grand Prix filter that says it has to be iconic, connect us and make us more human. We eventually find our two GPs at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Next Rembrandt data painting sits at one end and Justino’s emotional Christmas journey at the other.
The press conference first thing reveals our hard decisions and long awaited speculation. The eloquent Chloe Gottlieb delivers clear confident stories of how, what and why we have what we have. Her excited face pours energy into the room. The Brazilians are snapped by the paps and crowed by press. The rest of us bat off a few comments from local press and we pose for a group shot. Our job is done. We return at 18:30 for the Cyber awards ceremony. It’s very satisfying seeing all the awards collected by teams of people emotionally bursting with pride and happiness. I feel the same. I feel I have been part of that joy and I am amazed at how many people do come and say thank you to the jury. Well, it was a pleasure and an absolute privilege to do this job. It was like a ten day pitch of intensity but it was also like an amazing creative training course, one you could never normally get access too. And I walk away with 20 brand new amazing friends.