How to win at Dubai Lynx

Marian Brannelly, Global Director of Awards at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, speaks to Campaign Editor Justin Harper about winning strategies at Dubai Lynx

Campaign Middle East kicked the week off with a podcast interview with Marian Brannelly, Global Director of Awards at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to discuss winning strategies needed to succeed at Dubai Lynx.

Dubai Lynx is MENA’s leading platform for creative excellence and effectiveness.

From the rigorous awards process to introducing several new categories including transformation, Marian Brannelly tells us creativity drives progress, for sustained business growth but also for people and society. 

What is the inside track on winning at Dubai Lynx? 

We frame this as the steps to success. Ultimately it depends on what comes out.

Every year it’s a different competition because it’s the work that’s in the competition. That makes it difficult. There’s about a 10 percent success rate of winning a Lynx. It is really difficult to win one. 

There’s some brilliant work. We really want to keep that standard up as high as possible and recognise that. As I mentioned earlier, like the first thing is a great creative idea that has to be done without thinking. That’s the fundamental piece of it.

But there are some trends that come out from every winner and that’s the category selection.

How would you describe, what’s the element that says this was a great crafted piece that has a well-thought out strategy or really innovative design. That’s where you start then. Then building off from that. What was the core element that saw success?

Because then you have the foundations for your submission and these are the things that you want to get up on stage and go for.  

So when you win a Lynx or win any award, you really see this is the capabilities that my team and I have as an organisation, as a business, and this is what we can do for your brand.

 When you look at it as a whole, the jury is looking at the objective, the results, the strategy, and the creative concept as well.

What is the business case for creativity?

We really believe in creativity, that it can drive progress for business and sustained business growth, but also for people and society. 

Over the years we’ve amassed a whole range of data and insights to actually prove that point. 

We worked with McKinsey on a study for the Creative Score Index, looking at organisations that have won Lions over a prolonged period of time and actually how they’ve outperformed competitors who haven’t been in the same space. 

We’ve done research with Les Benet and Peter Field and James Herman on creative effectiveness. So actual work that is demonstrated creative effectiveness through awards shows or market recognition that actually go on to extend that brand relationships as well.

Then we’ve had wealth, obviously, winners over the years at Dubai Lynx. I think it’s 38 years in existence now.

We’ve seen brands go from local to global. We’ve seen laws change, we’ve seen real consumer behaviour change. So that creativity is really is driving that.

And it’s moving beyond just marketing activations to actually really business results.

And we’re really seeing that increasingly, it’s still being challenged and it’s always kind of like creativity is often one of the ones where it’s the marketing elements and how is that demonstrated in short term?

But it’s really looking at how marketers and brands can really demonstrate this is driving long term business growth.

I think that’s where we’re starting to see a shift to that as well. So creativity really does pay off and you see that, as you said, that return on investment when you invest in good creativity.

That’s the difference between that short term piece of we need to sell this product for today.

We’re thinking about how is that going to sell the product for the next year, 365 days of the year as well. That’s the long term view, brand awareness and the long term bigger picture.

How do you feel the Middle East is evolving as a region when it comes to creativity? 

We were looking at Cannes Lions and the region is starting to creek in. 

Saudi Arabia last year, we had one from UAE, and are actually climbing up the rankings year on year, really performing and really showing up on a global level.

That’s kind of really heartening because the work that’s happening here at Lynx, we’re seeing some of that work come through the global level and really contribute and position themselves as a creative powerhouse. 

I think that market is really demonstrating that change and it’s really exciting to see. You mentioned gaming, there’s a lot of activity happening around transformation and there’s leading the charge in content creation and social is really  effective here as well.