Why MediaCorp is wrong to shut out foreign talent from its Cannes Young Lions competition

Calvin SohIn this guest post, Calvin Soh questions why Singapore’s MediaCorp shut out foreign talent from its Young Creatives competition for Cannes Lions.

Cannes is an award show for the best of the best. This is what the show is about.

We want our locals to do well in this show. This is the objective.

If the locals can’t do better than the global community working in Singapore, then what hope do they have in Cannes?

Singapore is a hub. We have to attract the best talent to survive. That is our yardstick. You can’t lower that yardstick to Southeast Asia Games standard knowing the Cannes yardstick is Olympic standards.

If anything, it’s demoralizing to the Singaporeans who win. You set up false expectations….”Oh you’re so great, you won MediaCorp’s Young Creatives competition for Cannes so you must be world class…” and then go there and get your ass handed to you on a plate.

If the objective is to get Singaporeans to win in Cannes (and it must be otherwise why bother?), then there are other ways to give them an unfair advantage. Set up group tuition classes by local Singaporean CDs on how to win it, what are judges looking for, past participants to share their experience. Set these up. If Singaporean CDs don’t want to donate their time, shame them then cane them. That will set a platform and create an ecosystem for talent in the future.

Otherwise, this is a typical short-sighted, short-term, superficial knee jerk solution that will only serve as a soundbite for a CMO/CEO who’s on a 24-month contract.

Calvin Soh is the former Asia Pacific vice chairman of Publicis. He now runs consultancy Ninety Nine Percent.


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