Deidre Smalls-Landau, CMO and EVP, Global Culture, at UM Worldwide shares insights from the virtual judging room at Cannes Lions.

Let’s start with the Grand Prix. You awarded two Media Lions Grand Prix to Telenor Pakistan for 2020 and City of Chicago for 2021 – why did those entries stand out?

They are, in my mind, symbolic of a time period, where we saw such stark differences in terms of socio-economics and nationality and race, either via COVID or the social pandemic. Those two entries were symbolic for us with respect to how we as an industry ensure that we create a future that is more than just transactional, and that the benefit is actually social impact.

The digital birth registration by Telenor Pakistan is brilliant, in that it’s a simple use of technology that can have a lasting, positive impact on two million kids. It truly resonated with the jury room, the measurable benefit that this company provided to these kids, and of course the media used – the influencers and the technology.

We also wanted to recognise the year that we had had in 2020, and which is still dripping into 2021 and having lasting impact. The social unrest in this country was significant; it had the biggest impact since the Civil Rights era. We felt what was done [by the City of Chicago] to take the pain of injustice and turn that into progress and impact was pretty remarkable. By taking the boards that were used to avoid the destruction of property and turning it into joy, in neighbourhoods that had low voter registration and turnout, was another indication that if you can empathise with the community and build that relationship, it’ll have lasting impact.

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