Cam Blackley, chief creative officer at M&C Saatchi represented Australia on the Cannes Radio & Audio Lions jury. Here, Blackley offers some insights on how Australia can improve in 2024…
I don’t do diaries.
But let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. No, not me. The lack of Australian work making the cut. It’s massively disappointing. We won’t be the only nation feeling it. I thought at the shortlist stage I might see a couple of Aldi spots or the A.I. generated KitKat piece just to name a couple. They weren’t in my prejudging batches; so to quote the Burger King Impossible Menu campaign… confused. (didn’t make it either BTW).
But I kind of get it on reflection. And rather than talk about the judging process I think let’s look at themes, discuss where this fractured category is going and add some insights that might go a ways to getting Australia back in the metal rounds if not on stage in 2024. So, the following is a brain dump using the rule of threes that scratches the surface but is definitely the most useful.
I want to preface this with the fact that the jury was extremely smart, the Jury President Tseliso was incredibly measured and the conversation was always steered into looking for the positives in the work. Only a select amount of trophies can be awarded which is really tough. Those that rose were more than worthy winners. Tseliso’s directive was that the winners were to be our Lions 2023 playlist. And as such we very much looked for diversity of thinking. How do we encourage commercial outcomes as much as donations for whales.
Does it build or erode the category?
Is it fit for brand?
Did it drive results?
Are we envious?
Great. Let’s go for the throat.
Three insights from the room
Technology tried to dominate with shiny magic tricks. There was a real feeling in the room on dissecting the work that entrants thought technology was the idea and the brand was the sponsor. A President from another jury made a similar observation at the press conference “Innovation is a mindset not a tech flex.”
Yes, funny can win. But you better be fucking funny and have set your work up for success with a very diverse jury. Culturally nuanced work is going to struggle without context. Interestingly, one of the three gold winners won for Script. But it’s a hilarious audio book for Progressive ‘Dr Rick Will See You Now’. The reality here is that the case film set up the entire campaign and character that Americans had come to know. You understood the tone so when you listened to the audio book you were completely in the zone.
Nothing slips through the cracks at this stage. I think there is often a concern that work gets overlooked. It doesn’t. There was plenty of opportunity to bring work back. To look at prejudging scores and cross reference. Debate. In fact a piece that wasn’t shortlisted was brought back for discussion and walked off with a gold.
Three tips to make Australian audio stand out
It’s a difficult road for a straight radio spot to scoop metal. Not least because you’re negotiating language barriers. To get to silver or gold the pathway to the creation of the spot/s needs a level of complexity in its thinking. Skinny is a prime example. Funny scripts + Product Context + clever consumer interaction to deliver the content. It’s innovative thinking over innovation and that goes a long way.
Intelligence isn’t creativity. Technology can’t be the idea. It needs to be in service of the idea and be truly connected to the brand’s purpose. Samsung UnFear was a good example. A phone company reconfiguring its noise cancelling technology to remove auditory triggers for people living with autism. It lives in the product and is delivered through Samsung earbuds. The removal of sounds in an audio category stood out. Also see Cinego ‘The Impossible Campus’ for an innovative way to hack technology to deliver a human experience.
Participation adds extra dimension. The work that really rose took a less passive approach, open-source advertising (copyright) might be a fair description. Providing assets, encouraging personalisation and rewarding people for their involvement. It’s a brave client that allows the gamification of their message but it’s where the world is going folks. Goldfish ‘The snack that jingles back’ allowed subversion of a twenty year old jingle, not always positive either. Plus other brands made their own versions of it which only served to amplify Goldfish further. That really connected. Especially with the jury. Also see Mercado Livre ‘Files For Freedom’ and of course Skinny.
We chose the Grand Prix to send a message that advertising using cleverness, humour and participation to generate real business outcomes in charming and engaging ways is back after being muscled out by purpose for years. The inclusion of the audience as co-creators of the work is the genius and mischief of the work.
Australia is a budgetary challenged market and Audio/Radio should be a massive opportunity for us to show our smarts. This discipline levels the playing field for us. It’s the only place a thirty second radio can sit next to a 30 million dollar campaign and win. You’ll see the Grand Prix which our President has hailed as “a gift to the category” and he’s right on a lot of levels.
Other markets are beginning to see that you can make really sophisticated ideas in this space. But as far as a category goes I’d say it’s still a little soft, at least for now. Therein lies the opportunity. We need to park the notion that it’s a traditional category and lead the world in its potential. The only traditional bit is the humanity that we can bring to it, that is the constant. And guess what? If you win a Radio/Audio Lion next year you can just tell your mum you won a Lion.
That sounds like a plan. Over to you.