Dear Cannes judges: Have fun, but award fun too

—Cannes judges shouldn’t only award tear-jerking work that wants to save the world, says Angus Tucker. “Fun and laughter and are as much a part of the human condition as love and hope.”—

In two weeks, the advertising world will descend on the south of France to revel maskless on the beaches once again. I hope you all have a blast.

This business is tough sometimes, and the Festival is a week to see the greatest work from around the world, meet many of its creators IRL, and basically take a vacation from your job without it counting as an actual vacation. (“Oh, that $500 lunch on my expense report? Yeah, yeah, that was a networking meeting.”)

The only thing I ask is that you bring some of that fun into the jury room with you.

Because this weird thing happens at Cannes.

When the entire ad world is over there, ripping it up on the beaches and the bars and the cafes and the yachts with seven-year-old-on-Halloween-night grins on their faces, those same people get super-duper serious in the jury rooms.

In those darkened spaces, free of sunshine and salt water, they want tears. They want hope and inspiration. Earnestness and progress. They want to fight climate change, ultra-right nationalism, book-banning, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and everything else that’s wrong with the world right now.

Not, as Jerry Seinfeld might say, that there’s anything wrong with that. But that earnest person inside you that wants to make the world better is a conjoined twin of that idiot person inside of you who wasted the last 30 minutes scrolling #animalsdoingthings and snorting with laughter every time a pug goes ass over tea kettle chasing a Bosu ball.

Fun and laughter and are as much a part of the human condition as love and hope.

But at Cannes, when the medal debate begins, it seems like it’s always super earnest twin who speaks to the room, while idiot twin clams up and waits until the doors open and they get to go to that Meta party with its €18 Kronenbourgs and DJ de jour.

So the fun work might get a shortlist or two, but the Grand Prix and sixteen other Golds go to the idea that the case video said stopped climate change.

Which is a shame, because the vast majority of the stuff that people who aren’t in advertising seem to notice and talk about—you know, the people we’re actually trying to influence—is the un-earnest stuff. The funny stuff. The weird stuff. The “Ha! I never thought about it that way”?” stuff.

And that’s the only real measure of greatness, isn’t it? Did real people notice it? Did they remember it? Did they send/share/talk about it with their friends? Did it stick?

Whether it sold a “worthy” cause that protects ocean reefs, or an “unworthy’ product that keeps your pits dry should be irrelevant to the conversation.

Judging the biggest award show in the world is not a virtue-signalling contest to show which brand cares more about the world. (Or pretends to.)

Our job is to award the work that got the attention of our increasingly distracted and hard-to-reach consumer using insight, intelligence, nuance, taste and craft.

Which means that hilarious Macpac ad with the three hikers hanging from a cliff talking calmly about the “precariousness” of their situation, is just as Lion-worthy as that devastating Dove film about the horrifying effects of social media on the health of girls and young women. (See both below.)

I love that Dove film, but it told me what I (and most of us) already know: social media is disastrous for our mental health, especially for young people.

But that Macpac ad told me—and showed me—how “the incredibly soft water-resistant fabric doesn’t rip even under the most extreme duress,” which I didn’t know.

One’s funny. One’s sad. But one of them is way, way more persuasive.

And I think we all know which one it is.

Angus Tucker is the co-founder and former of CCO of John St., one of Canada’s most successful and awarded agencies since it opened in 2001. He was in the Cannes film jury room in 2012, when The Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs,” Canal+’s “The Bear,” Direct TV’s “Get Direct TV,” and Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” were hotly debated for the Grand Prix. Chipotle won, deservingly, by a whisker. The same whisker that might have fallen out of Willie Nelson’s beard as he sang the cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” which CAA recorded for the spot.