What does it take for Asia to win more at Cannes?

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 11.15.15 amIn the wash up of Cannes there is always commentary around Asia’s performance in certain categories and not others. Y&R Asia’s Matthew Godfrey asks does the region need to lift its performance? 

The 61st Cannes Lions Festival has now wrapped and can only be regarded as an inspiring success. It had everything from rocking ideas to rock stars. It had movie stars and moving stories. It had the big guns of the industry and some totally amazing young guns. It had freaking everything.

If you were lucky to be amongst the over 10,000 clients and agency delegates fuelled by equal doses of inspiration and Gutter Bar intoxication then stop and think again how even luckier the Lion winners were to triumph amongst the record 37,000 entries.

Or was it “luck?”

Some have asked why Asia Pacific agencies perform better in some categories than others? Or even why do some Asian countries do better than others? There are many theories, opinions and I expect even algorithms to explain this conundrum. But all of these are as useful as scoring a VIP ticket to the Cannes Closing Gala on the Monday after. Absolute rubbish.

My learning from Cannes this year was there was inspiration everywhere. Lions were won from every corner of the globe including Asia. There were Gold Lions won by Vietnam, Japan, China, Australia, NZ, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Singapore and India.

There was no such thing as clients and categories that could not succeed. Retail from the UK took out Grand Prix, Banks from Paris won Lions, Beer in Singapore found Gold, Cars in China and Japan won acclaim. Across APAC alone, Police Services, Water, Chocolate, Soap Powder, Education Providers, Surfing Apparel and Telco’s, to name just a few, deservedly received metal.

Experience was not a barrier either. There were Young Lions winners from Japan, China, Australia and India. After only a year of operation Red Fuse, Y&R and Colgate managed to win not only the first ever Lion for Myanmar but the first Gold. Grand Prix is the only way to beat that.

And the final piece of inspiration is the Independent Agency of the year from Gothenburg Sweden who cleaned up with a B2B campaign for Trucks. I bet you if I briefed that pitch in Asia many agencies would not even turn up, let alone turn it into an epic piece of communication that will be talked about for decades.  Who ever heard of Forsman & Bodenfors? Absolutely everyone now.

The learning is this. There are no bad briefs, bad clients, bad markets. There are no categories that can’t be won, that are too hard or too competitive. You can’t be too big, too small, too old or too young.

Yes it is hard. Very hard. Perhaps we all don’t appreciate how gut wrenchingly hard it is. It requires, passion, brilliance, teamwork, insight, bravery and perhaps above all, hunger. But those are all things we are in charge of and within our control.

Why does APAC do better in some places than others? The truth is there are no excuses.

Cannes 2015. The clock is ticking. No time to lose. As Bono said, turn up the heat.

Matthew Godfrey is president of Y&R Asia


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