Gerry D'Angelo, Vice President, Global Media, at Procter & Gamble shares insights from the virtual judging room at Cannes Lions.

Let’s start with the Grand Prix winners. What was your impression of them, and why do you think warranted that extra accolade?

We wanted to responsibly reflect the two years’ worth of work, and I think these two entries did it. Telenor, a telco operator in Pakistan, was an enormous force for good. One of the things that we talk about at P&G is marketing being a force for good in the world as well as being a force for growth, and it resonated extremely well on both of those two angles. It had a huge impact in terms of the challenge that it was trying to address, and it had an enormous impact in turning that around. I think it would have done extremely well in any year, quite frankly.

The other Grand Prix was ‘Boards of Change’. As a jury, we felt a responsibility to reflect the moment that we're in. That could have been COVID, and there was a lot of COVID work out there. But also, at the same time, we’re in a time when lots of areas of social injustice are being addressed, and this figured very strongly in a number of different categories. The City of Chicago captured that at a very pivotal moment in time.

Beyond the Grand Prix winners, which were the campaigns that caught your eye and that you particularly you know advocated for?

I liked Heineken ‘Shutter Ads’. Again, it was reflective of a moment in time. I also thought it was an incredibly thoughtful way for a business to react to COVID. Lots of brands and advertisers reacted to the COVID moment in different ways: some stopped advertising, and some actually started to advertise even more than before, if they were a category that had a greater propensity for consumption. And then there were a lot of advertisers trying to find that their place.

What I thought was really clever about ‘Shutter Ads’ is that Heineken managed to thread the needle on all of those things extremely well. It recognised that people weren’t going to bars and drinking beer, and that a lot of these bars were literally quite shuttering, and so it came up with a really smart idea of saying, ‘Okay, we'll take media spend and we will funnel it in a way that is good for our brand but also confers an enormous beneficial impact on some of the people that are most impacted.’

There were an enormous number of gaming entries. The ones that stood out were those that understood that consumers are now devoting more attention to this new area, and diverted hard dollars to try to tap into that media consumption. The big question then becomes how do you do creatively? For a long time, advertising in gaming has been things like interstitials and pre-rolls to win extras on Candy Crush. It’s been clunky. What a lot of these brands did is achieve the most incredibly sensitive adaptation to the environment.

The one that sprang out to me was ‘SHIFT+K+F+C’. Based on the insight that hardcore gamers use a lot of these keyboard shortcuts, they created a keyboard shortcut would take you to a pop-up where you could order from KFC. I thought that was incredibly simple, insightful and super creative. Gaming is now a really big part of people's lives; you can't roll that back, you can’t change it. You just have to adapt to it, and the strongest adaptations have the strongest hallmarks of creativity.

We’ve already spoken about gaming and purpose. What were the trends that you took away from the judging?

Clearly, COVID. It was very hard to ignore that. The second is the huge influx of gaming entries, and the third one was clearly purpose. As our jury chair Philippa Brown [CEO of PHD Worldwide] has talked about elsewhere, some brands were able to find the sweet spot between their brand, their business and their consumers and then a broader purpose.

The fourth area is data. Given that everyone is obsessed with data, you would have imagined there to be a tsunami of data-related entries, but there wasn’t quite the volume expected. Cadbury created hundreds of thousands of different ads based on unique codes associated with small mom and pop stores. There was also ‘Cold Tracker’. We had a discussion about what makes for a good and a bad use of data. As a jury we felt a lot of responsibility about signalling where the industry should go. We were very conscious about something being too intrusive, or overstepping the mark.

Finally, I think – to a degree – audio came roaring back. You might imagine that radio, much like directories or, to a lesser degree, print and magazines, is in a slow, terrible decline. But actually, digital has breathed new life into audio, particularly with things like podcasts and playlists. One example was an entry called ‘Slow Down Songs’, which, using geo-targeting, started to play a slow song as you approach a school. That was super clever.

What do you hope to see from Media Lions winners next year?

There was some discussion in the jury about, ‘Yeah, it's a great idea, but why this category?’ What we were doing as jury members the Media category is we were trying to connect the dots across all of the entrants. I'm not saying that it needs to become a whole-heartedly effectiveness-led award, but you can incorporate media in a number of different ways – you can buy paid media you, can pay influencers, you could drive SEO. There needs to be a sense that the job of media was to provide context or to elevate or to amplify.

Don’t try too hard to be in the moment or faddy, or to jump on a bandwagon. Apply real rigour to your entry. The really successful ones not only transcend the brand and the category, but they transcend into culture. The only way that you can transcend into culture is to be part of the broader public consciousness, and the only way to do that is to have size. Media is the category that you’re uniquely looking for scale and impact.

A good example is Popeyes. It clearly captured American society for a period of time, but I was surprised to find out it came from one organic tweet. A bit like the Oreo winner from a few years ago, the reason that they were able to do that is because it didn’t all hinge on one tiny little organic tweet. There was a pivot and an enormous amount of work that had gone on before, in terms of positioning, in terms of building up a voice in social media, in terms of harnessing very vocal parts of the Twitter community right. They’d done their homework, so that when Chick fil A came out with this tweet, Popeyes had built an enormous platform which it could leverage to amplify and scale.