Canadian Young Marketers win Bronze

Mark Childs blogs about Canada's first-ever Young Marketers trip to Cannes, and their third-place finish.
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By Mark Childs

Cannes Lions 2012 will be very memorable for many Canadian teams, none more yesterday than for two first-time client delegates. Friday afternoon my very own Campbell Canada team members Brad Canario and Aaron Nemoy brought home Canada’s first ever Cannes Lions Young Marketers Bronze win after competing for the last two days against 17 international teams.

Their journey may have concluded in the very hot South of France but it started on St. Patrick’s Day in Toronto when they gave up the day to work on (and ultimately win) the Young Marketers YMCA Creative Brief Competition. Since then the pair have honed the creative brief writing and presentation skills essential to unlocking full creative potential. They also soaked up Cannes Lions insight and experience from many colleagues, partners and friends – a solid foundation for rewarding client-agency partnerships and the development of award-winning work.

After the team’s jury presentation, Brad and Aaron shared with me their two-day experience and why they think every marketer should experience Cannes Lions. Of course, they are preaching to the converted.

When we met at the entrance of the Palais, they were all smiles and appeared happily exhausted. I wasn’t surprised since I had received Brad’s text moments before saying “we’re DONE!!”

It soon became apparent why they look that way. “In the zone” they explain, the pair worked on the beach, on the steps of the Palais (to get free wi-fi) until 4 a.m. and in a stranger’s apartment above a pizzeria when they resourcefully cell connected with Young Marketers judge David Gallagher, the CEO of Ketchum Pleon (“the only team to do so” he told me later) before being told to “go to bed” by the concierge of their hotel. Our “best thinking was in a cafe off the strip” (Croisette) chimes Brad. Culture immersion.

As they began to share the experience it awakens an excited, almost giddy dialogue, one they had intended not to share until after the results announcement. No chance.

As we continue, the pair cannot contain their passion to share their work. Their intriguing task was to support the charity Room to Read with a creative brief for a product, brand or service that they conceived, related to the company they work for. Early on the two made the strategic and insight connection with our Goldfish brand but resisted the temptation to jump to execution.

Their discovery phase led them to the powerful truth that there are “more illiterate school age kids in the world than the total number of kids in North America” and that nugget Aaron assured got the pair started on insights.

Ultimately their “School of Fish” big idea was inspired by their brand work back in Toronto as well as the annual report for Room to Read. “The goal was to encourage North American kids with their parents to literally become involved in reading the Goldfish brand story,” explains Brad. Then connect them with children in the developing world. “Empowering them to learn to read and write,” adds Aaron, seemingly jury rehearsed.

Now excited for them and myself, I continued to probe their experience, particularly the jury presentation, an unknown for all of us involved in Canada’s first year entry. Aaron assured me the presentation slides they prepared were their “best ever.” I first smiled but then dissolved into laughter when the pair tell me they showed up in suits. We are clients after all.

Probed by one of the jury members if they would implement the program, Brad and Aaron both resoundingly agree. Sarah Ivey, EVP, director of communication planning, Initiative Worldwide and Young Marketers jury member suggest they “talk to Mark” (we’d worked together 10 years ago…this really is a small industry, world and Cannes).

At the end of the day and this Cannes Lions, the two proudly pulled off a Bronze win.  A huge accomplishment to be recognized as “the third best marketers in the world with a phenomenal achievement” so aptly translated by Jacqueline O’Sullivan, my Young Marketer co-chair at Microsoft Advertising. On this we agree.

Their win adds to this week’s whopping 16 Lions accomplishment so far, including my own very proud Bronze Radio Lions collaboration with the Draftfcb Toronto team that built charity awareness and support for the PFLAG Canada.

For me, the Cannes Lions experience has always been worth its weight in gold (and proudly this year worth its weight in Bronze).

For Brad and Aaron, wishing to “pay it forward” to their peers and encourage them to strive for Cannes Lions, they have simple yet compelling advice: “We (clients) need to champion creativity” and this is the ideal place that “fosters creativity” and facilitates “connections through conversation with people that are passionate about creative.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Mark Childs is VP marketing at Campbell Company of Canada.