5 Tips on How to Win a Cannes Lion

Winning a Lion in Cannes is what every creative marketer strives for. We were fortunate enough to be awarded a Silver Lion this year for work we created for our Domtar client. People have been asking us, “How did you do it?” After careful consideration, we’ve come up with five tips that just might land you in Cannes next year.

  1. Trust
    Only ideas that break new ground win in Cannes. And doing something totally new can make a lot of people nervous. You’re in uncharted waters, so you need to trust the people around you. This is especially true in the client-agency relationship. A client needs to trust that the idea the agency is recommending is the right idea and also that the agency is capable of pulling it off. Without a high level of trust, a client will never approve an idea that would contend in Cannes.
  2. No excuses
    One of the biggest obstacles to winning in Cannes is ourselves. “We don’t have the big budgets.” “Our brand isn’t sexy enough.” “The product is boring.” All things people say that are really excuses for why the work isn’t at a higher level. When in reality, work with small budgets for unknown brands and everyday products wins all the time in Cannes. So as long as there’s trust in the client-agency relationship (see #1 above), there should be no excuses why the work isn’t in contention for a Lion.
  3. Concept is king
    Cannes more than any other award show rewards conceptual thinking. If you review the winning entries, you’ll notice each one is rooted in a killer concept that comes from insightful strategy which puts a new spin on the world around us. So, it’s not enough to just come up with a good idea. That idea needs to make people look at their world in a new way.
  4. Evoke emotion
    There’s a reason why so many of the winners have something to do with social good. It’s because efforts for social good play on the heartstrings like nothing else. This is not to say your product or concept needs to benefit the greater good, but it should evoke some kind of emotion. Jurors are human, and if you can make them feel something, you’re that much closer to being in the winner’s circle.
  5. Positive attitude
    We can’t stress the importance of this last one enough. “You can’t do that.” “That’s impossible.” “No one cares about that.” These are all things people say when an idea that breaks new ground is in its infancy. Which, unfortunately, is the exact opposite of what the idea needs to grow into a winner. It craves positivity and nurturing. Everyone on the team needs to have a can-do attitude. Even if you’re not sure how you’re going to do it, you have to believe you can.

So there you have it. Obviously, there’s no silver bullet to winning in Cannes. But if you follow these tips, next year you just might be sipping rosé on the French Riviera while polishing your shiny new Lion.