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Luciana Haguiara on Why Digital Craft Lions Should Be the Inspiration for Innovation
Production Company
São Paulo, Brazil
Media.Monks Brazil’s executive creative director and jury president of the Digital Craft Lions speaks to LBB’s Ben Conway about how she prepares for the jury room, how last year’s winners raised the bar, and the balance between idea and execution

“The category description says it all: let's celebrate technological art through works with exceptional form and function. This is a category that needs to inspire all others in terms of innovation… It will be amazing to find works that bring back the freshness and visionary aspect of the design, the user experience, and the invisible technology contributing to the execution.”

Luciana Haguiara, executive creative director for Media.Monks in Brazil, is the jury president for the Digital Craft Lions at Cannes this year and she is looking forward to some “crazy” format-breaking work that not only pushes technological boundaries but actually “improves people’s lives in the real world.” Speaking to LBB’s Ben Conway, Luciana shares her preparation techniques before entering the jury room, her excitement for reconnecting in-person at the Media.Monks and MassiveMusic party, and her thoughts on the post-covid re-emergence of digital, as the industry gears up for web3.

Read on to hear what Luciana had to say ahead of judging this year’s work at Cannes.

LBB> How are you preparing for the jury room this year?

Luciana> I am preparing by taking notes of everything that I find amazing in the first round of online judging. Also, by connecting with the jury team to start some very important conversations about what we are expecting to see this year.

LBB> For you and your leadership style, in your opinion, what makes a good jury president? And how do you hope to lead the jury room?

Luciana> The biggest challenge of leading a jury is to make everyone absolutely happy with the result, through work that we would’ve liked to have done, and that makes us as proud as the people who, as we say in Brazil, put their hands in the dough. I also think it's very important to direct the jury towards more positive reviews than negative ones. The atmosphere gets lighter, the discussions are always constructive and if the work is not that good, it will be reflected in the scores. It's much better to spend energy lifting up projects.

LBB> What is it about the category that you’re judging that really excites or interests you?

Luciana> In my opinion, Digital Craft is one of the most visionary categories of the festival, as it represents the most innovative projects in digital production. Our goal is to select a body of work that can inspire brands to take risks and further invest in surprising, exciting experiences for people

Now we are gearing up for the metaverse and everything that comes with it. So I believe the discussion will be around the importance of creating meaningful experiences for people that will impact their lives in the real world. For instance, why would someone buy a brand’s NFTs? Does it make sense for people? Or, how can an innovative idea be truly scalable and create an impact in the business? Also, a lot of brands are getting on the ‘making good’ wave. But are they really committed to these causes or are they just making things look good for a generation of consumers that are super engaged with purposeful brands?

LBB> It’s the first in-person Cannes since the start of the pandemic, a pivotal moment for an industry that’s been massively disrupted - how do you think that’s going to shape your thinking about your category in particular? 

Luciana> In the last year we’ve seen a lot of work that exists as a response to a year of covid. A wave of virtual events, digital experiences, and entertainment, living side-by-side with campaigns and content that reflect the important cultural shifts and difficult conversations made in these two past years. It’s been exciting to see the re-emergence of digital as a place to meet people and make stuff, instead of being merely a machine to fuel clicks and conversion. But this year people went back to the streets and even with all the metaverse talk, virtualisation, NFTs, the improvement of the tech in production like machine learning, AI, motion tracks, and so on, I think we need to look at the entries bearing in mind that it is still about and for people. So, how do all these amazingly crafted experiences affect and improve people's lives in the real world?

LBB> What are you looking for in a great 'digital craft' campaign, as compared to other categories?

Luciana> The category description says it all: let's celebrate technological art through works with exceptional form and function. This is a category that needs to inspire all others in terms of innovation. And when we look back, digital was a free and open space for creativity. Therefore, it will be amazing to find works that bring back the freshness and visionary aspect of the design, the user experience, and the invisible technology contributing to the execution. So many rules were created in an environment that was so free, that I would like to see more fun, crazy work that breaks formats and creates new functions.

We are going to look at the details. Because craft is about beauty and flawless executions. Sometimes we see a project that is a great idea, but when we deep dive into the user experience we feel that it could be better crafted. Also, the work needs to be digital native, which means that it must be born with digital thinking and then reach other media.

LBB> The Digital Craft Grand Prix went to Epic Games for their Astronomical Travis Scott Fortnite event last year. How has this affected the category and is there anything about that idea that you'll be looking for in entries this year?

Luciana> We saw that entertainment and game activations took the spotlight in digital craft last year. The Grand Prix was almost unanimous, and it was the project that brought the combination of these two things that won. We saw many live events within games, but Travis Scott's Astronomical project within Fortnite raised the bar to the stratosphere. It was a powerful combination of a massive artist with incredible animation, and the entire show was a personalised, interactive, and shared experience. That means, it was a cutting-edge immersive digital experience, which is what the category is all about. I am expecting different types of immersive experiences this year, more focused on AI, machine learning and all types of technological artistry that can make people have a lot of fun and be amazed.

LBB> The transcendent ‘big’ ideas are relatively easy enough to spot, but some work is smart in a more nuanced way. When you’re leading a jury, how do you give space to these ideas in the jury room?

Luciana> Cannes Lions is a global show. So it is absolutely crucial to have different cultures reflected in the winning work. Digital Craft is tricky because most of the big productions come from richer countries. So we need to carefully look at the entries that make a great impact and can be scalable, of course, but also those that have beautiful cultural relevance in their respective regions. Sometimes a simple idea can be very powerful and when it turns into winning work, it can help a local industry grow and invest more in Digital Craft. The jury is totally aware of that, so it will be a natural process.

LBB> What are some of your main criteria and where does ‘the craft’ rank among them for this category?

Luciana> The category is about craft, but of course, we need to find a balance between idea and execution. At the same time, when we talk about the effectiveness of the outcome, our angle will be focused on the emotional outcome, not on the media parameters. Because a really amazingly crafted work needs to impress people and create an emotional response to serve as a benchmark for the category. The criteria is to find work that demonstrates exceptional form and function, flawless design, masterful execution, and outstanding user experience for all digital environments.

LBB> Outside of the jury room, what do you think will be the big talking points of Cannes 2022?

Luciana> I think it will be about how brands will enter the virtualisation era in a meaningful way.

LBB> Are you attending in person? What events, talks or activities are you looking forward to most, besides judging? Are you looking forward to being reunited with the international community after Cannes’ in-person hiatus?

Luciana> I will be attending in person and as a very happy person! I am looking forward to reconnecting with the most amazing people in the industry and going to the best party ever, the Media.Monks and MassiveMusic party.

Work from Media.Monks Brazil
Gasoline Mary Case Film