By Barri Rafferty, CEO of Ketchum, North America
They are younger than you. They studied relentlessly and they fizz with creativity. The internet has always been part of their lives. They are highly motivated to achieve success. Basically these people have your job in their sights, and mine for that matter, and I’ve little doubt that soon they will get them. They are the next generation of marketers and in a few days I will meet their elite.
This feisty group are the Young Marketing Lions that I will help judge at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. In order to get to Cannes each team of two has won a hard fought national competition run against the clock. All the Young Lions taking part in Cannes (Print, Film, Design, Cyber, Media, PR) are 28 years of age or younger. They come from in-house teams from across the world and represent some of the globe’s biggest brands. This year sees entrants from PepsiCo*, Samsung*, Diageo* and P&G* to name but a few. Already many are running multimillion dollar campaigns, managing large teams and making business critical decisions.
Gold, silver and bronze medals will be presented to the winners. The gold winners will collect their medals in front of their peers at the prestigious Cannes Lions Award Show. When doing so they will also collect two free registrations and accommodation for next year’s festival.
But winning the Young Marketers competition is not easy. Each of the 18 teams will be asked to produce a brief answering a global non-profit challenge. They will have just one day to create a campaign around their company’s brands. And they will present their ideas to a jury in just 5 minutes.
I will serve on that jury with Joanna Peña-Bickley, of IBM and Mailine Swildens of Google. We’ll be looking for ideas that ignite our imagination, but also concepts that are deliverable and sustainable.
Ketchum is sponsoring this competition because it allows us to invest in up and coming talent. It will be a little intimidating to face the next generation’s elite marketers, but ultimately I like to think that this is what Cannes is really all about. Beyond the Rosé, the glamour, the big name talks and client dinners, I think the actual purpose of Cannes is to inspire the next generation of communicators – so they are empowered to change the world.
So if this week you’re enjoying the festival from near or far, I’d encourage you to think of these young professionals fighting hard to breakthrough creatively. Ponder their festival or career experiences and how valuable moments of learning happen each day, and how important these experiences can be for building confidence and encouraging risk taking. Consider the pivotal role you can play in the careers of younger professionals and how you can help unleash their creativity in your own organizations.
* Note: Ketchum clients