Why you should pull an all-nighter to get to Cannes

With Cannes Young Lions entries closing on Friday former winner Iggy Rodriguez has the reasons why you should pull an all nighter to finish your entry.

Okay, sure it’s the last minute, but plenty of famous campaigns have been written right before a big meeting or on the night before a pitch. You’ve got a few days, so you’re laughing.Cannes Young Lions 2014I’ve been lucky enough to compete in the Young Lions at Cannes a couple of times and I can honestly say there’s no better launching platform for your career in the ad business and no better reward for busting your chops on a brief.

The Young Lions is like competing in the Olympics Of Advertising. An odd notion you might think.

Upon arriving to the Young Lions Arena in the main stadium of Cannes (AKA The festival auditorium) each country is lined up side by side. As Aussie representatives, you’re wearing your green and gold Adidas tracksuit and carry an Aussie flag patriotically in your hands. You look to your right and see the team from Argentina, to your left the team from Austria. Across the hall are the Poms, the Swedes, the Russians and Zimbabweans, all with their game faces on. These are best young creatives from all over the world and they want to take you down. You’re given your brief and wait for the referees whistle to blow.

This is it. You’re doing it for your country.

You snap back to reality and realise the javelin you thought you were holding is actually an HB pencil. You’ve got a brief to crack and only 24 hours to do it and you’ll be damned if some Pom pips you at the finish. Time to get moving and push harder than you ever have.

Just like a marathon runner crossing the line, at the end of it everyone is broken and exhausted, but you’ve made it through. There’s even a Gold, Silver, Bronze medal ceremony just like the real Olympics.

Afterwards, you’ll have a drink or twenty together and realise those people you thought were your fierce enemies are merely other young creatives just like you. Winners or not, they’re all stoked to have been chosen to represent their countries and they’re proud they gave it their all. It’s a room full of amazingly talented, young people who’ll all be rising in the advertising ranks over the next few years in their own respective countries, just like you will be.

Outside of the Young Lions comp, you’ll have access to inspirational seminars and talks from some real creative gurus. Not just all advertising folk, but musicians, actors, techy geeks and innovative business people who are all pushing the boundaries of creativity in their own unique way.

While you’re strolling the streets speaking your clumsy Aussie-French, swimming at the beach or eating at restaurants, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème of creative directors in the Advertising world, who all flock to Cannes for that one week. Most of them have come to judge the year’s best creative ideas, which you’ll be able to see at each night’s award ceremony presentation.

Once all the shiny metal has been dished out, there are more than a few parties to sniff out. The key is to do some groundwork early in the week to make connections with reps and producers for tickets.

Once inside, it’s just you and your new Young Lion mates hanging out with the world’s best CDs, drinking free rosé on a beautiful French beach in the middle of Summer. You remember it’s Winter back home and you haven’t been at the office in a week, let alone worn a pair of shoes.

You think back to working on the entry for this competition back in Australia last month. Sure it took a bit of effort, but in the end your hard work really paid off.

Some final tips on putting together your entry:

So here you are. It’s the last couple of days before deadline, hopefully you’ve ploughed well into the brief weeks ago and are well on your way. If you haven’t, don’t sweat it. With a couple of days to go, you still have time to crack it.

In Cannes, you’ll only be given 24 hours from start to finish, so it can be done.

1. A Ball tearing idea

Spend the majority of your time trying to come up with the very best idea you can. The execution is judged secondary and doesn’t need anywhere near as much time.

Once you’ve well and truly cracked a great idea, then you can start thinking about putting it together. The judges want to see your ability to conceptualize and think.

2. Answer the brief

Make sure your idea nails the proposition, not just hits the rim and smudges off. Remember that the judges will be going through hundreds of entries, one after the other, so when they see an entry with a message that really hits the mark in a simple and clear way, it’s going to stand out.

P.s. It never hurts to re-read the brief. If you’re slightly off, someone could beat you by a fingernail.

3. Campaignability

There’s nothing wrong with entering one brilliant execution, but if you can show judges the beauty and simplicity of your great idea by proving it can work as campaign, then you’ll be all the better for it.

4. Simplify

This is about looking at your finished product and asking yourself is everything really as great as it could be, and I don’t mean necessarily crafting it more in Photoshop. Look at the end line you’ve got – could it be said another way? Or written more succinctly perhaps?

You may have a sketched an image – is this the best angle of it for your idea to come through? Could it be simplified to make it easier to understand?

5. Double down

Got another cracker idea? Submit another entry.

Sure the entry costs $60, but it’s the trip of a lifetime worth a hell of a lot more.

Plus with a little sweet-talking, you can convince your Creative Director that it’s a small investment into the future of the agency and I’m sure they’ll happily cover the costs for you.

6. Go hard

It’s the last week. Give it everything you’ve got.

If you’re not sure about your idea, remember there’s always a better one out there.

You’re either going to gain a fresh piece of work for your folio OR win yourself a trip to France in the middle of the Summer.

You can enter the competition via this link.

Iggy Rodriguez is creative group head for Leo Burnett.

Disclaimer: Mumbrella has no commercial links to either the Cannes Lions or Cannes Young Lions competition.


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