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Cannes Lions

That’s Entertainment with Cannes Lions Jury President Debbi Vandeven

VML’s global CCO on presiding over the 2018 Entertainment jury

That’s Entertainment with Cannes Lions Jury President Debbi Vandeven

When it comes to the Entertainment category at Cannes Lions this year, jury president – and global CCO of VML – Debbi Vandeven is “eager to see if we have elevated the use of technology”. She’s taking previous experience of being on the Promo & Activation jury, where she thrived on learning from and listening to others, and doing heaps of research about work from all around the world. All of this should make for the great jury room atmosphere that she’s aiming for her and her fellow jurors. 

LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with her to find out more. 


LBB> How are you preparing yourself for your time in the jury room at Cannes?

DV> I’ve been doing a ton of research about work from across the globe. And I’m making every effort to prepare for a great atmosphere in the jury room. One of the best things about my past experience on the Promo & Activation jury was learning from and listening to others. So my hope is to guide the discussion and help everyone listen to and be open to other opinions. I believe the best work rises to the top, but with a global jury, it’s so important to discuss details about the ideas that can provide a better understanding of the region and the true power of the work.


LBB> What are you hoping to see from the entries this year? How has the pre-judging been going so far?

DV> I’m looking forward to seeing some original and genuinely great ideas. I would love to see some fresh work, while always keeping in mind that it should make sense for the brand. Pre-judging has gone well. I’m especially happy to see Cannes view work for good separately from brand work; it allows us to judge the work against the proper competitive set.


LBB> What words of advice will you be giving to your jury?

DV> The first is easy — would you be proud to have done the work, or are you jealous it wasn’t yours? Next, and this is very important, does the work make sense for the brand? If it doesn’t tie to a brand’s position or promise, then it could just be a film or a creative piece of content, but it is not truly doing its job for the brand. 


LBB> In your president’s message, you say that you are “eager to see if we have elevated the use of technology” - how do you think technology is affecting and shaping the entertainment category? 

DV> I am hoping we see work that is being thoughtfully designed for the platform as well as the audience. If you are truly connecting with an audience, the more you understand about the platforms they are using, the more meaningful your work will be to them. As an example, I think we’ll see better and more thoughtful storytelling in VR work this year.  


LBB> In the category in the past we’ve seen feature films, branded music videos and such are there any new kinds of entertainment media that you feel is particularly interesting in this space at the moment? What do you think will be the big talking points at this year’s festival?

DV> That’s what’s so exciting about being president of this jury! It’s all about having the opportunity to see and discuss the next great directions work will be taking. I hate to anticipate the big talking points — but I am looking forward to being in the middle of these intriguing discussions about the work that will move our industry forward as a whole.


LBB> How will you be spending the rest of your time in Cannes? Are there any events or talks you’re eager to attend? 

DV> On Thursday at 2:30 p.m., I’ll lead an Inside the Jury Room presentation on the Awards Hub Stage inside the Palais. It will give people an intimate look at some of the discussions and decisions from the Entertainment Jury.

On Friday at 1 p.m., I’m participating in a CCO panel on the Cannes Lions Beach, opposite the Carlton Hotel. Eliza Williams of Creative Review will moderate a discussion on creative inspiration, where the industry is headed, what talents up-and-coming creatives need to stand out and truly succeed, and trends in creativity.

I’m also really excited about a new book that just launched, ‘The Art of Branded Entertainment’. Last year’s Entertainment jury president PJ Pereira led the creation of the book and it was written by jury members, including current VML CCO, EMEA, Jason Xenopoulos. There will be a book signing and launch event on Tuesday evening at Vice HQ.

We also have several other VMLers participating in roundtables. On Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., executive creative director Tony Snethen and Gatorade head of consumer & athlete engagement Gina Hardy will participate in ‘Creativity at the Intersection of Sports, Brands & Fans’. On Wednesday, executive director, creative technology, Craig Elimeliah, will participate in ‘Driving Digital Innovation & Transformation’.