The Lion’s view

Cannes in 360

Issue 48 | September 2018

Steve Latham, Head of Talent & Training at Cannes Lions

I'm yet not 65-years-old but I'm sure it's an age where you can reflect on a life well-lived and look forward to a more sedate future. When I get there I'm sure the old bones will creak and I'll look back and wonder if I always made so many noises getting out of bed or climbing the stairs. But will I be open to change?

I do know one 65-year-old that changed this year and quite dramatically. The 65th edition of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was never going to be straightforward. The well-publicised fallout from Publicis Groupe's decision not to enter or attend any award shows plus WPP's threats to scale back their involvement were part of a broader call for change.

So, the reset button was hit. Reduced from eight days, a new five-day festival emerged. There was a new, streamlined Lions awards structure with a revised points system intended to 'better represent the difficulty of winning a Lion'. A reduction in the price of a full week delegate pass along with countless other small changes meant this was a massive year for the Festival.

And how did it go?

Well, rather satisfactorily if you analyse the delegate feedback scores – our highest NPS score to date.

Of course, there are always ways to improve and the event will continue to evolve, but this was a big year for the Festival and the future looks bright.

The future also looks bright for the next generation of creative talent.

The Cannes Lions School of Creativity continues to go from strength to strength, this year welcoming 600 participants who were involved in a series of classes, competitions and hacks. Often described as a well-kept secret, this year it did feel as if at last the spotlight had shifted to shine on the Young Lions. The Young Creatives Academy, the Young Marketers Academy, the Young Media Academy and the Roger Hatchuel Academy for students hoping to secure jobs in the industry were over- subscribed.

Open to professionals under the age of 30, the Academies got world-famous speakers and one-to-one coaching from industry legends.

We made some significant changes to the Young Lions too.

  • The Cannes Lions Shortlisting Jury judged all seven Young Lions Competitions
  • Debrief sessions after every competition so all teams could receive personal feedback on their work
  • The competitions and academies located together for the first time in the Cannes Lions School Campus, making it a vibrant and busy home for Young Lions

We also launched new products including: 

  • The Google Creative Campus to drive greater gender, ethnicity and socio-demographic diversity in the creative industries. 11 full scholarships for young creatives were awarded for the Roger Hatchuel Academy and they also receive a trip to Mountain View in the autumn
  • In 2018 Cannes Lions and HP launched #MoreLikeMe, a pilot mentoring program designed to build and strengthen diverse creative talent
  • With the support of Amazon, Huge & Global Citizen experts, we launched the "Change for Good" Hackathon which challenged teams in 30 hours to create a fully rounded campaign and product ready for the live judging in Lions Innovation. It was pretty intense with incredible results!

So, all in all it was a great year for The School. Importantly, we were able to have a lot of conversations with senior industry figures about how they might engage with Young Lions in 2019. Some of these conversations were with major sponsors, who massively invest in their brand presence at the Festival and want to support the next generation of leaders in a meaningful way.

Cannes Lions is and will always be about the work.

And about the creatives who produce it. But this year it seemed to me that the next generation is already with us.

Two delegates in the Young Creative Academy took home Gold Lions.

This is where I see my role – and the role of Cannes Lions – creating opportunities for a new generation to experience the Festival in a way that benefits them and their careers.

I think we can do even more if we can raise the profile of the Cannes Lions School.

Cannes Lions should be a pilgrimage for those serious about their careers and those employers who're serious about their talent. Why should a young creative want to leave the company that invests in them, believes in them and sends them to Cannes?

Every year I am inspired by the young delegates I meet. They're engaged 100% in their week and when you see the connections they make, the opening of eyes as they realise they can do anything, it's incredibly rewarding. I honestly believe the time for Young Lions has arrived. The future of the industry is now.

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