Lions Direct jury will place its focus on creative

Who'd want to be a Frenchman in New York these days? Well, Wunderman's chief executive and chairman, Daniel Morel, would.

In fact, he's been one for the past 26 years. However, in two weeks' time he will return to his homeland to preside over the Lions Direct jury at Cannes.

Morel's summer job is likely to keep him extremely busy. This year there have been 393,050 entrants to the Lions Direct awards -- a rise of 5.6% on 2002. These are impressive figures, particularly considering the fact that overall number of submissions to the festival are down by 5%.

Last year's Lions Direct was the first. Now that the award scheme has been established, Morel is adamant that it's ripe for a few important alterations.

"This year we have shifted the emphasis of the judging towards creative," he explains. "We have rebalanced the criteria so that 40% of the grade is devoted to the creative quality of the work. I pushed for 50, but I got 40.

"A further 20% of the final mark is for the execution of that creative piece. So, altogether, 60% of the judging is related to the creative product.

"Although we'll be looking at work by big clients, we're not told how much money each one has spent on a particular programme, so we'll be judging these pieces on the standard of the idea and on the execution."

Morel started his career as an account man at Ogilvy & Mather. He has also worked for Saatchi & Saatchi, as the EMEA director on Procter & Gamble and IBM.

However, he has spent the majority of his career as a big fish in New York's direct marketing pond, heading Euro RSCG's The Sales Machine and Blau Marketing Technologies before finally landing the biggest below-the-line brief of them all as the head of WPP's Wunderman, the global direct behemoth founded by Lester Wunderman in 1958 (the same year, Morel observes dryly, that Charles de Gaulle established the fifth republic in France).

"When I came to Wunderman, I pushed the need for us to rekindle our creativity," he recalls. "You can do good work on data segmentation and you can convince your client to give you a great offer to sell. But if you don't have something that's going to break through the desk, something that's going to make the recipient pick up the phone and call the number or click on the banner, then you may as well have nothing."

Morel's experiences of agency life either side of the line -- and of the Atlantic -- have given him a unique insight into the state of direct marketing today.

He is impressed with the standard of the UK direct industry, and takes particular satisfaction in the success of the Wunderman network's London outfit, Harrison Troughton Wunderman.

"Even the French direct marketers admire their work, which is incredible because the French think they invented everything," he jokes.

Whether Morel can marry Wunderman's global reputation for professionalism and strategy with HTW-style creativity remains to be seen. He will be assisted in his endeavours by a new boss, Young & Rubican's chairman and chief executive, Anne Fudge.

For the moment, his biggest priority is to ensure that this year's Lions Direct reflects his commitment to creativity, rather than the direct marketing industry's obsession with accountability and response rates.

"I'm pushing creative because I want to push the notion of recall - the idea of people entering into a relationship and remembering the way you touched them last time," he explains. "To do this, we have to start doing imaginative, ground-breaking creative. You can't bore people into buying something."

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