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Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

5 questions with Cannes’ MENA jurors

Cannes-Lions

Events & Awards

5 questions with Cannes’ MENA jurors

This year’s Cannes jury has 16 experts from the region and so we caught up with some of them for a little tête-à-tête.

 

Alex Malouf, corporate communications manager, Arabian Peninsula, Procter & Gamble, UAE 

Alex Malouf, board member of MEPRA and IABC; corporate communications manager at P&G

Is this your first time judging at the Cannes?

Yes, and it has been an honor to be the first person from the region to judge the PR awards.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’ve wanted to see where the industry is headed when it comes to issues such as engagement and measurement, as well as the issue of how brands are tackling issues-based communications. It’s been fascinating to understand how similar and different the work is across geographies and industries.

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year?

AVEs/EMVs – we’ve got to move away from these measures.

I was hoping to see more work from the Middle East. But after judging over 300 entries, I’ve only judged two from here (one from Lebanon and one from Saudi). This has been disappointing. For all those people who say we produce some amazing work, I saw more entries from a country the size of Slovenia. It’s clear to me that we’ve got to do more to raise our game if we’re going to compete as an industry on a global stage.

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What can regional brands learn from global case studies?

Be brave, look to tackle big issues, and base your strategy on strong insights into your audience.

Is there a lack of cultural understanding on a global level that makes it either easier or harder for regional brands to get their message across?

I don’t think there’s an issue of difference in cultural understanding. The Middle East has never been in the news as much as it is today. But I’ve never seen as little appetite for risk and bravery in marketing and communications as I’ve seen today. I recall campaigns on women’s issues such as Ogilvy’s “Some Things Can’t be Covered”, or Bou Khalil’s “The Good Note” on promoting giving to those in need. It feels as if no one wants to tackle the big issues that matter to the public. We’ve got to be braver and much more creative in our approach to engagement. There’s so much talent in the region; let’s make use of that talent, talk about causes that matter to our consumers, and go win awards for it.

Ali Rez, regional creative director – Middle East and Pakistan, BBDO, UAE

Is this your first time judging at the Cannes?

Yes.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m most looking forward to the wide breadth of work from around the world – the expansive range of strategic thinking and creative; also looking forward to learning from the process in the jury room.

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year?

Formulaic case studies and ideas that follow trends more than original problem-solving.

What can regional brands learn from global case studies?

I think regional brands do a pretty good job of making case studies, often focusing on regional-specific solutions. One place where improvement could be made is in terms of displaying scale and reach.

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Is there a lack of cultural understanding on a global level that makes it either easier or harder for regional brands to get their message across?

It depends on the case study, really, and how well it explains the context behind the idea. I’ve learnt a great deal about cultural nuances from a number of case films. Sometimes a cultural detail might actually help in terms of feeling exotic, and sometimes it could be a bridge to a unique insight.

Chloe Hawking, chief digital director, Omnicom Media Group, EMEA

Is this your first time judging at the Cannes?

Yes.

What are you most looking forward to? 

I’m hopeful I will see less obvious applications of data that can inspire us to think in new creative and innovative ways.

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year?

Buzzwords!

What can regional brands learn from global case studies?

The data we produce daily through the use of the mobile phones, social platforms, and the Internet is universal across regions. This opens a huge amount of creative opportunities for most markets. The difference will be the readiness of local brands and their partners to challenge themselves and take risks to innovate beyond the standard set at events like Cannes

Is there a lack of cultural understanding on a global level that makes it either easier or harder for regional brands to get their message across?

This can be a challenge. Understanding the local context of a case can have a huge impact on appreciating the impact of the work or obstacles overcome. I think this can be solved by having a thoughtful and diverse jury, with representatives that bring different regional perspectives. Overall, the work that wins needs to inspire on a global scale. That doesn’t mean it can’t be highly local work that solves a specific local problem. The key is a clear award entry with sufficient context to communicate the problem and solution. Award entries themselves are a communication challenge!

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Fura Johannesdottir, vice-president, executive creative director, Publicis.Sapient, EMEA

 Is this your first time judging at the Cannes?

Yes.

What are you most looking forward to?

When judging, I always look most forward to seeing and debating the work with my fellow jury members. There is so much to be learned from that experience since we come from all over the world, bringing different perspectives to the table. A winning entry in my mind needs to have a strong idea at the core of it. Then we look for excellence in craft as well. And then of course it’s always nice when it feels relevant and sets the stage for the future.

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year?

I’m always open to all types of different work. But since I’m judging mobile, I don’t want to see work where the mobility was an afterthought for the idea. Mobile is a really powerful medium, and we need to use it to the fullest.

What can regional brands learn from global case studies?

I think regional brands can look at global case studies to see what creativity can do for them. Throughout the years I have seen some amazing simple ideas that do a lot for brand lifting and awareness, brands that are taking a bit of risk – but it has a big payoff. I think it’s important to look at the global cases to see what is being done across the globe. People are actually being really smart by executing great ideas with simple technologies on lower budgets. It’s super inspiring to see.

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Is there a lack of cultural understanding on a global level that makes it either easier or harder for regional brands to get their message across?

When we judge work, we always look at cultural relevance. If we are lucky, we might have someone from the region in the room, which will help give context. If not, we do think about it and do our research. The work winning this year is coming from all over the world and I think that helps illustrate how much work is put into really understanding cultural relevance. We always keep in mind that we are awarding the best of the best and we take that really seriously.

Harjot Singh, chief strategy officer, McCann Worldgroup, EMEA 

Is this your first time judging at the Cannes?

Yes.

What are you most looking forward to?

I have learned from experience that there are two things that are immediately recognizable in a potentially winning entry:

  1. Clear logic and clearly defined objectives that form the basis of a cohesive and persuasive argument that sets up the complexity and the opportunity of the brief.
  2. But in an effectiveness competition, the most important characteristic of a winning entry lies in the quality of its evidence, and the way in which it is presented. It cannot be circumstantial. It must demonstrate robustly, clearly and beyond reasonable doubt that it was the work that ultimately lead to the commercial impact.

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year?

Insufficient context to back up an allegedly impressive outcome.

This is typical of entries that ignore or inadequately acknowledge the cause and effect relationship between the objectives, strategy, execution and the outcome.

I think this is symptomatic of the fact that as agencies we can sometimes be blinded by demonstrating ROI. As a result we run the risk of not thinking about effectiveness and measurement as a whole – and impact in its broadest, cumulative sense.

Years ago, someone very wise once said to me in a meeting that advertising effectiveness that just measures bottom line sales is like a comedy club that doesn’t understand how it makes people laugh!

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What can regional brands learn from global case studies?

The best global case studies don’t just prove and demonstrate how global brands not only offer the highest value products but also deliver a vision of how they enrich the culture and identities of people across the world. They are very aware of the influence they wield – both, positive and negative – on society and its wellbeing.

Is there a lack of cultural understanding on a global level that makes it either easier or harder for regional brands to get their message across?

No. Successful global brands are very cognizant of the importance of understanding, appreciating and enriching the receiving culture. They actively invest in doing so because it is a business imperative and people expect this of them.

Equally, successful regional brands tend to be very clear about their business model and it’s reliance on the extent to which it’s success is based on “being local”, building and cultivating strong trading relationships on that basis. Instead of chasing wider geographical coverage for the sake of expansion, successful regional brands are very clear about building their reputation and quality in the markets they know best.

Juliana Paracencio, regional creative director, Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, UAE 

Is this your first time judging at the Cannes?

Yes. 

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to seeing, at least in the Brand Experience category, ideas where brands stood for something bigger while still selling their products. This is very challenging, as it might not work for every brand.

Also, I’m looking forward to meeting the other jurors in my category, talking about the work and seeing their point of view.

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year?

I am hoping not to see cases simply trying to surf on new technologies just because it is trendy without bringing any relevance to the brand.

What can regional brands learn from global case studies?

Regional brands can leverage conceptual insights from global case studies, but rarely production insights, since they don’t have the same budget to impress clients with original production.

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Is there a lack of cultural understanding on a global level that makes it either easier or harder for regional brands to get their message across?

When it comes to basic emotions of human beings such as love for family, need to be included and admired, and curiosity for adventure, global campaigns can do better because of the many resources they have compared to regional ones. When it comes to particularities of a culture, such as the love of Brazilians for soccer or the respect in Ramadan, then regional brands perform better because they share the sensitivity of their people. 

Neil Hurman, chief advisory officer, OMD, EMEA

Is this your first time judging at the Cannes? 

Whilst I have both attended Cannes and judged award shows numerous times this is my first time judging the Cannes Lions, I am looking forward to seeing all the work!

What are you most looking forward to?

Hearing how the other judges view the same cases – appreciating those different perspectives and value judgments, and learning from them.

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year? 

Two things are disqualifiers for any entry for me.

First, the Media Lions should be a celebration of media smarts, so when I see entries that show no evidence of this, however much I enjoy the high-level campaign idea or creative execution, I discount it.

Secondly, results shouldn’t be about the audience generated but about what value this audience created for the business. It’s also important that outcomes correlate with the stated objectives. If the cases tick all these boxes then you’re going to score highly!

What can regional brands learn from global case studies? 

There is no catch all answer to that as it of course depends on the case study. Everybody can learn from anybody as we are all looking for inspiration (that’s why we attend Cannes!) and the wider we look the more we will find. If anything, I would say the traffic should be in the other direction. Much of the smartest and most creative thinking is in small local activations. The challenge for global brands is often how can you deliver the scale required via innovation. Mass produced distinctiveness is not easy!

Paola Mounla, creative director, J. Walter Thompson, Beirut

Paola-Mounla-Creative-Director-JWT-Beirut-2Is this your first time judging at the Cannes?

Yes.

What are you most looking forward to?

The entire industry from all over the world waits religiously for the Cannes Lions winners. These are the game changers that set a new benchmark of creative excellence worldwide. They trigger admiration, jealousy, passion and the tenacity to outdo them the year after. I’m looking forward and I’m honored to be part of that change in 2018.

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year?

It’s more what I’m hoping to see a lot of: work that brings on real behavioral change within its community.

What can regional brands learn from global case studies?

That they too have what it takes to create excellent work.

Is there a lack of cultural understanding on a global level that makes it either easier or harder for regional brands to get their message across?

There is no lack of cultural understanding on a global level and it’s not hard to get across cultural nuances. If explained well in the case study, great work from the region, any region, can travel far. Many campaigns from Lebanon and the UAE have gone on to win at Cannes, even though they were heavy with cultural nuances. But Egypt probably has the best example with its Titanium for Abla Fahita.

Walid Kanaan, chief creative officer, TBWA\RAAD, MENA 

Is this your first time judging at the Cannes?

Yes

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to witnessing the latest trends on a global level through the Entertainment lens, interacting with my fellow jury members – online and in the judging room – and most importantly, I’m very enthusiastic about the ultimate debate that will lead to metal rewards. 

What are you hoping NOT to see in the entries this year?

Scams, copycats, repetitive work and badly packaged entries.

What can regional brands learn from global case studies?

The importance of scalability, boldness, the will to have guts and the courage to explore new ideas, experiment and accept the fear of failure. Because without that you can never reach greatness.

Is there a lack of cultural understanding on a global level that makes it either easier or harder for regional brands to get their message across?

A well-explained and packaged case can always seduce a jury member regardless of his/her nationality, cultural background, or race. There are many precedents that have proved the global appeal of campaigns with pure local insights. Once the tension point is clarified, the jury can easily assess the core idea and then judge the execution and its impact on the audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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