The saying goes ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, but let’s be honest changing that to ‘necessity is the mother of innovation’ would be the perfect way to summarise the past 15 months since the Covid-19 pandemic. With that in mind, this year’s Cannes Lions innovation category will be one to watch.
Presiding over it is Google APAC’s Claudio Cristovao who believes that during a time of such turbulence, creativity is what saved us – and it's up to award shows to honour and recognise that. Due to a postponement of Cannes from last year, this year’s jury will be judging two years’ work and despite believing that Innovation is the hardest category to judge, Claudia is looking for projects that were lovingly cared for, with a heightened focus. With not long to go until Cannes, LBB’s Natasha Patel caught up with Claudia to hear how she’s preparing herself for the event.
LBB> After a year and a half of Covid-19, why does the business and creative world need award shows?
Claudia> I have been judging a few award shows this year and it’s incredible how much good work has happened, considering that people were under a lot of stress and often figuring out exactly how to work apart - not even to mention producing in reduced ways, at a distance… The survival of creativity - and even the thriving of creativity - is a fascinating insight into what happens when the world gets overturned: people try to secure basic survival, and beyond that they look for art, stories, gardens, books. Creativity is what has saved us, and award shows remind us of that.
LBB> You’ll be awarding 2020 and 2021 Lions – I know the years are being judged separately but it must be super illuminating to see the comparison between pre-Covid and Covid work. I know it’s still in the pre-judging phase, but have you noticed any trends or has it given you any new perspective on how the industry has changed?
Claudia> I can tell you what I have felt over the past year: work that is not essential feels inessential faster. The impetus to make meaningful work, with more longevity, is heightened. And it has been a good year for craft - many projects were lovingly cared for, perhaps with heightened focus.
LBB> This has been a year that has seen the industry chuck out all of the rule books, so in some ways, this year’s Cannes Lions is a launchpad for the future – how does that frame how you’ll be looking at the work? Does it give the juries an extra responsibility?
Claudia> Yes, this has been a harrowing year but it’s also, in a way, a zero ground we would do well not to waste. Just like people are traveling less but loving it more, or seeing fewer people but trying to build stronger connections, it makes sense that we are all looking to make and elevate work that merits eight hours or more of our precious day. Last year has shown that little else is worth it.
LBB> What advice will you be giving the jury?
Claudia> Be generous, it’s been a hard year. Be curious, the world is big. Be fair, and elevate only what is worthy of our attention and of our heart.
LBB> Cannes is also a time of celebration. What will you be celebrating this year?
Claudia> I celebrate a jolt to the system that has come at horrendous cost but that has brought amazing energy, hope, and disruption of the status quo. I hope we do not fool ourselves into going back to “normal” and instead make good use of a blank slate to do less but our very best.
LBB> What do you hope to see at Cannes 2022?
Claudia> Ideas that look out of place, in a great way.
LBB> Is there a change in the innovation category as businesses have to adapt fast with the changes in the industry?
Claudia> In a way Innovation is the hardest category - who in our industry really asks for something transformative? But it’s such a good cloak to hide revolutionary processes and ideas in. For any creative team, to have an Innovation mandate - even if modest - is to have a petri dish of strange, ill-fitting things that inevitably will transform into multiple beautiful projects. And it’s where you breed indispensable thinking muscle.
LBB> How are you assessing work and is there a criteria for true innovation vs gimmicks?
Claudia> I don’t think gimmicks make it past the shortlists.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Claudia> The world is full of new questions being given old answers. Last year has shown us how crucially we need amazing creative thinking to survive and to thrive together - and in ways that will be brand new.