LBB: Cannes Lions 2017 Jury Presidents: Henry Cowling

UNIT9 Creative Director Henry Cowling on Inspecting the Craft and Being a Digital Ubermensch.

The Digital Craft category may only be a year old, but it’s already made quite the impression at Cannes Lions. Encompassing a menagerie of mediums and platforms, one would imagine it’d be quite the task to judge such a category at the festival. This year, the task falls to UNIT9 Creative Director and Digital Craft Jury President Henry Cowling. LBB’s Liam Smith chatted with Henry to find out how he’s approaching this year’s award.

 

LBB> How are you preparing yourself for your time in the jury room at Cannes?

 

HC> I’m swotting up on my Digital Craft so I can at least bluff my way through the topics I know little about, and try to maintain a presidential demeanour.

 

LBB> What words of advice will you be giving to your jury?

 

HC> As a juror, you have a duty to the people who submitted their work to approach each piece with an open mind and give it an honest chance. That said, if you don’t like it, don’t vote for it.  There is an implicit expectation to award the biggest brands with the slickest case study videos - but it’s possible to create startlingly good work on a small budget.  Look closely at the craft.

 

LBB> Digital Craft debuted in 2016. How do you think the category has changed in the past year?

 

HC>From the entries I’ve seen so far, I believe the Digital Craft category has really matured over the last year. There appears to be more entries, which is a great sign that agencies are taking Digital Craft seriously.

 

LBB> The category covers such a vast array of platforms and mediums. What do you think will be the hardest part of judging the entries?

 

HC> The category is too vast for any juror to be an expert in everything, unless you’re some sort of digital ubermensch. For me the trickiest entries to judge are big platform builds. It’s easy to get your head around a piece of campaign work, but the subtle beauty of products and platforms really only reveals itself when you’ve been using them a long time.

 

LBB> What will you be looking out for in the entries?

 

HC> That feeling you get when you know everyone involved in a piece of work has poured their heart into it.

 

LBB> What do you think will be the big talking points at this year’s festival?

 

HC> It will be the year of the acronyms: AI, AR and VR. 

 

LBB> How will you be spending the rest of your time in Cannes? Are there any events or talks you’re eager to attend? 

 

HC> Tom’s Table, assuming I’m lucky enough to get an invite. Otherwise, you’ll find me in the Gutter Bar… not sure that qualifies as an event.