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Cannes 2012: Shortening the Shortlists?

BY Matt Williams

Cannes Lions 2012 has been in action for about a day now, and so far it’s been the number one trending topic on Twitter for almost the entire time.

Maybe that says more about the average Twitter follower than it really does about the popularity of the event, but there’s little doubt that the influence of the festival is forever growing.

For those of us lucky enough to be in the South of France this week (the weather’s lovely, thanks for asking), we’ve already been greeted with a broad range of exhibitions, seminars and work that have stimulated, provoked and inspired in equal measure.

We’ll try to keep you up to speed with as much of the thought provoking content as we possibly can over the forthcoming week, as well as giving an alternative view on all the winners and losers at the awards.

The first set of awards are handed out tonight, and early signs for the UK are mixed. While there’s been a disappointing showing in Press (just five agencies have been shortlisted), there’s been more to celebrate in mobile – the UK has picked up seven nominations in the category, which is making its first appearance at the show this year.

Talking of debuts, last year saw the first ever Cannes Lions given out for Creative Effectiveness. In its first year, only 10 campaigns were shortlisted, but that was put down to the newness of the category, and the need for agencies to take a look at exactly how the winning entries have been devised in order to get the hang of it themselves.

This year, the number of campaigns shortlisted has increased, but only to 13. Is this a worry? The complications and sheer time it takes to compile a Creative Effectiveness award entry means that numbers will of course be lower than in more simple and mainstream categories like Film or Cyber, but you suspect that the Festival organisers may still have expected to see a bigger increase in nominations than there has been.

Of course there is a flip side to this argument. A small shortlist means that what will be awarded can be guaranteed to be the very, very best. Whatever colour the Lion is, you’ll know that the work had to go some just to get anywhere near the gong. It’s not one of 70 winners, not lost in sea of Lions being thrown about anywhere and everywhere, as some other categories have been accused of doing in the past.

The Cannes Lions is the ultimate award to win for creatives, the Champions League of its industry. So all things considered, maybe a short shortlist isn’t so bad after all. 

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