Collective roar, by Impact BBDO’s Paul Shearer

Paul Shearer, CCO at Impact BBDO, was a judge at this year’s Cannes Lions. He says that the bar is incredibly high, but by working together the regional industry can earn the recognition it deserves.

After being cancelled last year, Cannes Lions is back. And how we have missed it.

The bad news is that it’s hard enough winning at Cannes Lions, and then suddenly you must compete with two years’ worth of work. Tough just became near impossible.

But luckily, we come from the land of possible. I was cheering on every Middle East shortlist and trophy as they came out, no matter what agency it was. I have always said that the more we collectively win, the better it is for us all going forward.

I had the privilege of judging this time around, and when I saw a great MENA entry, I spoke up for it, regardless of what agency it came from. This unconditional support is something we all need to do in the future if we are judging. Because our work needs all the support it can get when you are up against such amazing global competition.

This year it was 30,000 entries, which is amazing.

Your heart sinks when you realise the standard is so high that your own work becomes a little ordinary. Your dreams of golden Lions suddenly shrink in front of your eyes.

The other thing sobering realisation is that there is only a limited amount of shortlists, Bronze, Silver and Golds. It’s this realisation that makes you really understand that a Shortlist is actually a major award in itself. As I went through the judging process, I learned to appreciate this more and more. So, congratulations to anyone who shortlisted.

And then there was the awarding of trophies, the heavy metal that we all hope and pray for. Suddenly the mood changes in the jury room. Giving a trophy is a big, big deal. My jury was one of the best I have ever been on. They understood the importance of a trophy and their due diligence was scarily good. So, if you have won a Bronze or Silver then know one thing. Your work had to be the best of the best.

Then comes the Gold. Gold is classed as a work of art. Work that has no impurities. You ask yourself, “Is there anything I would change that could make this work better?” Answering “No” to this question is what makes it Gold. And then you need 10 judges to answer “No”. If you think about it, winning a Gold really is impossible. So, to all those Gold winners I salute you. Impossible salutes you.

The last award is obviously the Grand Prix. Sadly, the region did not achieve this acclaim this year. But the amazing results we pulled off gives me real hope that we will get there next time.

The reputation of MENA is growing and growing. All we need to do is support each other. Support each other’s work as if it’s your own. Trust me. We will all benefit.