The 9 per cent decline in entries to the Film category of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year could lead some to suggest that what was once the "gold standard" in creativity has lost its sheen.
Judged purely on which categories are growing in entry numbers, it looks as if Film is now in danger of being superseded by newer ones. In particular, PR and Branded Content & Entertainment have grown in popularity as the Cannes organisers seek to broaden the definition of creativity (and, of course, tap new revenue streams).
An alternative opinion is that Film is one of the more expensive of the categories to enter and, anyway, with Outdoor and Press still being the most popular by quite a long way (with more than 5,000 entries each), the "traditional" media categories are most definitely not on the wane. Maybe, the argument goes, this is just a cyclical thing. Either way, winning a Lion in Film was the way that creatives once established their reputation but, with new categories on the up, does the corresponding decline in entries mean that this is no longer the case?
Elspeth Lynn, executive creative director, M&C Saatchi
"Creativity shouldn’t have a hierarchy. Viewing film/TV as the top prize suggests that our industry still relies on it as the best way to communicate, which is not the case. It also wrongly suggests that it is the only medium that matters. The more we embrace creativity in any form, the better off and more forward-thinking we’ll be. Does film have a role to play? Absolutely. It is the foundation of content. But let’s not limit it to just being a TV ad. Being awarded Cyber, Direct, Press, Mobile or otherwise should be weighted equally. As long as it’s simple, clever, insightful, well-executed and it works, it doesn’t matter what category it’s in."
Gerry Human, chief creative officer, Ogilvy & Mather London
"It may be that the volume of entries is down in the Film category this year, but I would argue that the potency of film has never been stronger or more germane. More and more media platforms are film-based and just about every social media platform now involves creating and sharing film content. Like the barnstorming success of ‘dumb ways to die’ last year or ‘the man your man could smell like’ the year before, 2014 will undoubtedly be the year of ‘the epic split’. Not in the jury, of course, but rather among the festival-goers on the Croisette and, more importantly, the general public. Because, as yet, nothing kicks ass like a great film."
Mark Fairbanks, executive creative director, Havas Worldwide London
"Surely, the biggest reason for the drop in Film entries is the falling standards in traditional TV ads? It’s not as though we’re making fewer TV ads. Far from it. But the truly great films now tend to be online. Why? Mainly because offline film is subject to more scrutiny than ever before. So while ideas in the other media are allowed to develop using intuition and debate, TV is often dissected down to the lowest common denominator. Research, if used correctly, can be incredibly useful. But that’s a massive ‘if’. So while a film can still be the defining piece of work at Cannes, unsurprisingly, it is much more likely to come from the online world."
Nils Leonard, executive creative director, Grey London
"Win at Cannes. Anyway you can. Win in film, print, design or digital. And win the one that makes you the future, Titanium. Win. So you can drink the rosé. So you can meet a beautiful German creative on the beach. So you can let go of the goals older people have set you. And tune out the needs of a global chief creative officer. Once you’ve won the most recognised award in our industry, you can move on. And you must force yourself to move on. Because you will want more. You owe us a new goal. A new trophy. Do excellent things and move past the awards our industry can give. Leave the lion silently roaring, and push us all forward."