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Do the Cannes Media Lions still matter?

Overblown and overrated, or imperative recognition of best in class that propels the industry forward? By Arif Durrani.

Do the Cannes Media Lions still matter?

Do the Cannes Media Lions still matter?

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YES Colin Gottlieb, chief executive, EMEA, Omnicom Media Group

"The role of the media specialist is changing rapidly as our audience-centric data-driven and multichannel world moves us closer to a client’s business. The Media Lions provide a powerful global platform to recognise the huge talent and innovation driving this change."

MAYBE Lindsay Pattison, UK chief executive, Maxus; 2011 Media Lions juror

"The problem at Cannes, and with awards in general, is the waters are muddy. What is creative? What is media? My fear is we will have creative agencies winning Media Lions. We must get better at ‘packaging’ our work."

MAYBE Matthew Hook, managing director, Carat

"The Media Lions are valuable because they represent the full consumer experience rather than a single execution and demand proof of business value. However, Carat’s last Lion was a Cyber – good media thinking pops up everywhere."

YES Tom George, chairman, Northern Europe, MEC

"Awards in general were one of the key areas we focused on for massive improvement when I joined MEC, and our success in winning awards over the years has no doubt contributed to the success we’ve enjoyed in the UK."

After a week in which media has enjoyed its time in the sun along the Croisette, many agencies now head home feeling slightly cheated. But do awards such as the Media Lions really mean anything?

All awards judging presents its own challenges but, as those who took part in the Media Lions process will testify, few – if any – toiled behind closed doors for longer than the media contingent this year.

For those assessing the merits of media campaigns, the strategy, implementation and return on investment might be easier to quantify than the subjective merits of a particular creative execution, but the length of time required to judge the entries is notably longer.

The 40-strong Media jury this year had considerably more to do than sitting back and looking at some well-produced ads. Thousands of documents had to be read, numbers analysed and then performances cross-referenced and compared.

One of the criticisms about the value of media judging is that the arduous process itself might lead to oversights and omissions. The procedure has not been sped up following accusations in 2012 that marketing group leaders had told their representatives on panels to vote for their own agencies. There is now a two-stage judging process for the Media Lions, but it does take place less demands on individuals.

However, the system now means block-voting is all but impossible to go undetected, according to Terry Savage, the chairman of Lions Festivals. He is confident that the "integrity, commitment and unbeatable industry knowledge" applied to the judging process in 2014 has helped reward innovation and excellence, and will ultimately help drive the industry forward on a global scale.

Yet, for the smaller agencies that can’t afford to submit multiple entries, and with the allure of the "new" still often outshining the sort of solid-yet-inspired media ideas that deliver truly effective campaigns, some continue to question the true value of taking home a Lion.

That said, more positive correlations are being made between winning at Cannes and winning in the marketplace than ever before. So, do people care about the Media Lions?

This article was first published on

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