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Do The New Digital Craft Lions Matter?

Do The New Digital Craft Lions Matter?

SapientNitro & Razorfish's CCO Nick Turner asks whether Cannes Lions is reflecting the latest changes.


There is no greater honour than winning a Cannes Lion Grand Prix and being invited to judge the Cyber Lions at the prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. I have been fortunate enough to do both (I’m usually very modest).



Out of the two experiences, judging the awards was far more rewarding. To spend 10 days alongside my peers gave me memorable and amazing insights into the legends of our industry on a global scale. By introducing more categories, you need more judges who will continue to raise the bar for what the industry considers the best in the world. The more judges that nurture relationships, discuss what great work is and share their knowledge can only benefit the industry.

The fact that the Cyber category has to be split is an indication the category was getting too unmanageable. Digital is too complex and too diverse to be judged by one group of people. This is a clear reflection of the importance of digital. Why do I feel as though I have to say that digital is important!? Forgive me for a little outburst here but, for f****s sake, there isn't a part of our lives that hasn't and won't be touched by digital! I hate the word ‘digital' but at least it's better than 'new media’. Digital is not just part of the 'media mix’. Digital is front, centre and core to advertising, to marketing, to business and the world we live in. Deal with it. Good, I got that off my chest.



On the one hand, I think the categories at Cannes are a muddled, overlapping mess. Cyber to Mobile to Design to Product Design to Titanium to Innovation. Never mind the onslaught of new categories in the last few years. The Innovation category was the 10th new category the festival added between 2005 - 2013. There was a lot of confusion about what it represented especially since the Titanium category was home to winners like Fuel Band.

I can’t stress how strongly I feel that categories are judged by experts in their field. I also believe it is time for a change in the way that awards are judged. I believe Gold and Grand Prix Lions should only be awarded after a presentation by the finalists and an interrogation by the jury, something that Dave Droga brought in when he was the jury president of the Innovation Lions. They instituted a different process for this category. Rather than be misled and beguiled by case study films, entrants had to pitch their ideas – Dragon’s Den style.



Now, on the other hand, if this actually helps to celebrate the unique craft that goes into digital work and honours the likes of UX, visual design and tech and gets us all – not just the judges – to raise the bar, then bring it on. Craft has been a huge part of the conversation in digital lately. With a lot of ready-made solutions and quick access to so much information, it seems easier than ever for people to just bolt together a bunch of ‘found’ stuff and ‘ta-dah’ – job done.

There is a real integrity in quality craftsmanship. The hours spent learning and mastering skills, tools and techniques. Harking back to the days of proper typographic design, the craft of the written word and pre-digital photography when you had to capture so much more ‘in camera’, the dedication to the craft of advertising has always been there.



And even though the tools have changed and the techniques are different and the end product is a world away from anything imaginable a few short years ago, there is still a pride, passion, ever increasingly, a hugely collaborative approach. This pulls together people with incredible skills so when they come together with a vision in mind, they can create something very special.

Blood, sweat, tears, passion, dedication, craftsmanship, collaboration, failures and lots of late nights – really late nights – go in to making this thing we call digital. It isn’t easy and it’s constantly evolving. The craft of what we do is maturing to a point where it is seamlessly integrating into the world we live in. Digital will become as ubiquitous as electricity. We will no longer talk about ‘digital’; we will just know it enables us to do the most wondrous things. The craftsmen and women who are making this happen should most definitely be celebrated.

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