These days, it seems you can’t move for people enthusing about being creative problem solvers rather than mere advertisers. Well, in Cannes, the place to put those claims to the test is the Creative Business Transformation Lions.
This year’s jury president is Justin Peyton and he’s very clear that this isn’t the category for curious experiments with lots of PR value - it’s about lasting change.
“The thing that stands out as different to me about creative business transformation, is the definition of ‘transformation’. To me, at the end, you have something different than you had at the beginning. And it's going to stay different, right? It's not different just for the sake of being different for 15 minutes for a campaign,” he says. “Actually, a business transformation is not just an innovative experiment, right? ‘We can do something different. We tried it in a campaign. Now we're gonna go back to the way we were before’. I love experiments, and I have a huge amount of time for them. But there are a lot of categories to reward that already. When we think about transformation, this is really about how are we going to do things differently. And how are we setting up a platform that has longevity?”
Of course the other defining characteristic of the category is creativity. There are countless consultancies going into businesses and helping them with fairly standard, ‘best practice’ changes - maybe setting up a new call centre or reducing inefficiencies in a supply chain in a fairly standard way. That’s not what Justin and his jury are looking for.
“This is not the award for ‘who delivered who created the best CMS deployment’ or ‘who did the best call centre optimization service’.,” he says. “This is: ‘where are we seeing people taking a risk?’ People doing something that is different from what their business model might normally look at, but where one plus one truly wound up equaling three.”
So what does that look like? “To me, a creative business transformation involves taking a risk. Right? There were some really interesting partnerships that we saw last year, and that we are seeing come in again this year, where brands are entering business spaces that don't feel natural to them. But actually, when you look at the end value that they deliver to their customer, you go, ‘Oh, this makes total sense and I can see how you're creating a stickier relationship with your audience’.”
Last year’s Creative Business Transformation Grand Prix winner is, according to Justin, an ideal illustration of what creative solutions in business can look like. Pinatex for fruit giant Dole took waste pineapple leaves and turned them into a vegan leather alternative - a risky premise that unleashed a side hustle that’s now a nine figure business.
“That's a huge, big business that they're running. It's significant on the balance sheet of the company. And not only that, it helps the farmers because now everything that was a waste product that they used to throw away, they can resell. So literally, everybody won on that supply chain. Honestly being on that jury, I was so proud that we could award that work.”
Justin was part of the jury last year and is president this year - it’s fair to say that he really digs this category. And what he really digs is, well, the ability to dig in. It’s a category that encourages juries to get under the hood of a range of business and root around in the quirks and idiosyncrasies of a wide variety of industries and organisations.
Justin is filling his head with all sorts of fascinating ‘did you knows’, but there’s one insight above all other that has emerged from immersing himself in all of the entries.
“I learned just how much opportunity there actually is,” he says. “I’m reading some of the cases that focus on internal ops, people operations… This isn't necessarily what we all think about in the industry every day, but actually, there's a world of difference that can be made to the end product that brands deliver to their consumers when they get this stuff right. And in the way they actually think about the hiring process, the people process. To me, what you learn looking at this is that there is opportunity for creativity, to make a notable difference.”
It’s not just the cases that Justin is enjoying getting stuck into. The jury itself brings a wealth of insight and experience. “The jury that I have, I'm so blessed. We've got a super diverse jury with people from all over the world and all different perspectives. So I like to think that we're able to bring enough difference in perspective, to get to a really fair understanding [of the work].” says Justin, full of praise for the team at Cannes for their jury curation.