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Cannes Q&A: Behind the Cyber Jury with Megan Skelly

July 8, 2016

360i Group Creative Director Megan Skelly’s having a busy year. After being named one of the Most Creative Women in Advertising by Business Insider, Megan was selected to serve on the Cyber Jury at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. We caught up with her now that the dust has settled following the whirlwind of Cannes craziness to take a peek inside the jury room and learn more about the experience of reviewing and rewarding the world’s best advertising.

360i Group Creative Director Megan Skelly, larger than life onscreen at the Cannes Lions Cyber ceremony

What was the best part of being on a Cannes jury?

The best part about it was the jury itself. I was lucky to be part of an amazing group of professionals. The intensity of the conversations we had in a compressed amount of time really turned these strangers into lifelong friends.

And I was fortunate to be looking at the world’s best work. It’s a rare opportunity to spend seven full days to just look at work and think about work – and discuss it with some of the smartest people in advertising across the world.

Juries in Cannes can definitely get heated. What do you think set the positive tone for your group?

At a certain point, the Cyber Jury President instituted a rule banning negative comments from the discussion; we couldn’t say anything bad about the work. In her words: “It was the best work in the world after all”. When it stopped being about “l love this because of this” or “I hate this about this” we stopped battling against each other and started fighting for the work we believed in. It became about strategy.

She also made us do yoga moves occasionally to help reset. We threatened to do the entire Grand Prix discussion in downward dog just to hurry the process along, but in the end we didn’t have to.

And we all truly listened to each other and kept open minds. We can get very stuck in our interpretation of things, because we come to the table with strong opinions informed only by our own experiences. If you listen, and start to understand the cultural nuances, or the intricacies of the particular technology, or how a brand was finally able to break through in their category or country, it can completely change your opinion.

But it’s probably not all fun and games. What was the hardest part?

I had a lot of anxiety around making sure that the right work was being elevated. I don’t think it really sinks in until you’re there, that peoples’ careers, agencies’ hopes and dreams are in your hands. So you don’t want to miss anything and you don’t want to misinterpret anything. There were 2,800 entries in Cyber. I didn’t want anything to get lost.

We also had to define what Cyber means today. Technically, everything seems to fit into Cyber now, everything is consumed in the digital space. We noticed a lot of submissions that were analog – TV spots or print-like objects – delivered on a digital platform. For example, a TV spot that happened to be long and happened to be on YouTube didn’t qualify as Cyber for us. The work couldn’t be a dead end – it had to engage a consumer in a conversation or give them something to be a part of.

There were a lot of really beautiful pieces of work that were just that – really beautiful pieces of work and had no business being in the Cyber category.

What did you take away from the judging experience?

So much. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had.

Mostly, I took away inspiration. I looked at work where technology was so sophisticated that it disappeared and made us more human. Our work for Adaptoys was held up as a great example of that. I saw rich storytelling, well-crafted and powerful – but built specifically for the digital space. We awarded the Grand Prix to a campaign called Justino for the Spanish Lottery that easily rivals Pixar’s storytelling. The work I saw made me realize that only when we are finally fluent on the platforms and with the technology that has become our language, can we create truly great work. “Manboobs” won numerous Gold and a Grand Prix, and it was essentially just a simple social hack. If you’re making no attempt to be a digital native, then you have no business being in this business.

It was exhausting but all I wanted to do was come back and start working.