Australia may have been slow out of the blocks on the awards front this week but we have certainly finished strong here on day five of Cannes Lions. We’ll talk you through the wins, but first you need to know what Martin Sorrell, the Napoleonic figure of the marketing world, is up to next. 

In case you didn’t hear (unlikely), the tenacious, competitive Brit is starting afresh with new investors, after he was pushed out of WPP under some pretty controversial circumstances. 

Sorrell is clear on how client needs are changing and is keen to get his new business off the drawing board to take advantage, it was apparent from his pronouncements at Cannes today. 

“What I hear from clients,” he said, “is that they want agencies to be much more flexible, faster and cheaper. They want agencies to co-locate in their offices and they want them to deal with millennials and influencers.”

He also knows clients’ ears are being bent by business consultants such as Deloitte (which won its first Lion this year), PWC and Accenture (which Sorrell claimed had spent a considerable sum of money on its Cannes presence this year). 

“They go into the clients [often to the CEO rather than the CMO] and they say ‘You have a lot of technological challenges, you’re spending a lot of money, can we help you reduce that spend and our reward will be a percentage of what we save you?'

“That is a pretty seductive message,” he admitted, adding that Accenture is a company that generates total revenues greater than all the biggest six advertising holding companies combined, including his former employer. 

Despite his inglorious unseating, Sorrell has lost none of his quotability and he had a zinger aimed at his former chairman Roberto Quarta, who has described Sorrell’s new venture as a “peanut” compared to WPP. 

“The thing about peanuts is that some people have peanut allergies,” he quipped during a discussion with media journalist and author Ken Auletta that saw them spar amicably over whose turn it was to put a question to the other. 

Sorrell dropped more hints about his plans during a press Q&A session, saying he would be focusing on the fastest growing sections of the marketing services landscape, that is not older media like linear TV and radio but the other 50% of the market driven by new technologies such as online and mobile. 

In addition, he stated the business would be multinational from the start and positioned to help brand reach countries where consumer spend is growing strongly, such as Brazil and China. 

“Those sort of markets are the future in the sense that the next billion consumers are not going to come from the US and Western Europe,” he said. “They’re going to come from Asia and Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.”

However, it’s not just Sorrell putting pins around the globe but Chinese companies too. Auletta pointed out that the likes of Alibaba and Tencent (who were both at the festival) are increasingly competing on Western companies’ home turf. 

But the biggest threat to marketing agencies is different, according to Auletta, whose new book about the disruption of the ad business by digital media is out this month. 

“The existential threat to your business is the public,” he said, as people don’t want to be interrupted by advertising and are mistrustful of online advertising in relation to privacy. 

It wasn’t only business change on the Cannes agenda but culture change too, and there aren’t many bigger examples of that than the #metoo movement against sexual harassment in the workplace. 

‘Redefining Miss America in the Age of #MeToo’ was a fascinating insight into the open heart surgery that the televised beauty pageant is currently undergoing. 

One of the surgeons is not just a key campaigner in the #metoo movement, but also happens to be Miss America 1989. Gretchen Carlson helped force Roger Ailes’ eventual departure from Fox in 2016 when she revealed she had previously been a subject of his unwelcome attentions. 

Carlson explained to the audience that this set in train a total overhaul of Miss America, with the entire board stepping down and being succeeded five months ago by an all-female, elected board with herself as chair. 

The 97-year old pageant hit the headlines last month in announcing it was ditching its swimsuit section. According to Carlson, it only took up nine minutes of the two-hour telecast, which used to be the most-watched TV event in America after the Super Bowl. But that’s only one of many changes. 

The board unanimously voted to drop the swimsuit section and to stop awarding points based on physical appearance. Carlson added: “We’re keeping the evening attire section, but we’re letting candidates wear whatever they feel comfortable in and we will judge them on what they say during that part of the competition.” 

Part of Miss America’s image problem is that to date it hasn’t communicated very well about its wholesome differences from downmarket rival Miss USA, according to another of those surgeons, Y&R North America chief creative officer Leslie Sims. 

Miss America winners actually get a scholarship, so a big point of the relaunch is emphasising the educational aspiration behind the competition. (Oops, did we say competition? That term’s out too. Participants will no longer be called ‘competitors’ but ‘candidates’.)

Sims and Carlson are working flat out on the relaunch, with this year’s event just three months away. Much work is still in progress, but Sims was able to reveal the neat new brand positioning: “Preparing great women for the world and preparing the world for great women.”

You can tell Carlson, who has been contacted by many other survivors of sexual harassment, is driven to make a difference. 

“We’re working with Hollywood directors and thinking about how to make this the most entertaining show ever,” she said. “We have to nail it in September. We have one shot.”

And so, onto the awards, which may not make for the most entertaining ceremonies ever, but are very much reflective of how advertising and creativity are tackling issues like female empowerment. 

In fact, marketing that helps tackle gender inequality has its own specific award category, Glass: The Lion for Change, which was awarded today to AMV BBDO. Jury president Madonna Badger, the co-founder of US agency Badger & Winters, applauded the agency’s winning work for tampons brand Essity for chipping away at the social stigma about periods. 

The ad industry is criticised by many, but it was praised by the United Nations today as the first industry to support its environmental behaviour change platform Sustainable Development Goals. 

Yes, there’s a Lion for that, and yes, Host/Havas Sydney’s massively successful ‘Palau Pledge’ responsible tourism work for the Pacific island country of Palau won the Grand Prix.

‘Palau Pledge’ also secured the Grand Prix in Titanium (the category that celebrates work that moves the ad industry forward), which takes its Grand Prix haul to three, including its Direct Lions win earlier this week. 

And there’s more! BWM Dentsu Sydney got the Grand Prix in the Lions for Good for its ‘Project Revoice’ work for The ALS Association. 

Tourism Australia also deserves a mention for picking up a Titanium Lion to add to its impressive collection this year. The winning work was ‘Dundee’ by Droga5 New York. 

Titanium Grand Prix 

‘Palau Pledge’ for the Palau Legacy Project by Host/Havas Sydney

How did Australia do in the Titanium Lions? 

Grand Prix - see above

Titanium Lion to ‘Dundee: The Son Of A Legend Returns Home’ for Tourism Australia by Droga5 New York

Grand Prix For Good

‘Project Revoice’ for The ALS Association by BWM Dentsu Sydney

Sustainable Development For Good Grand Prix

‘Palau Pledge’ for the Palau Legacy Project by Host/Havas Sydney

How did Australia do in the Sustainable Development For Good Lions? 

Grand Prix - see above

Silver Lion to ‘Palau Pledge’ for the Palau Legacy Project by Host/Havas Sydney

(A campaign can win more than one prize as awards go to individual executions)

Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix

’Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks’ for ITC by OGILVY Mumbai

How did Australia do in the Creative Effectiveness Lions?

Bronze Lions to ‘Hungerithm’ for Mars Chocolate Australia by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

Bronze Lion to ‘Meet Graham’ for Transport Accident Commission (Victoria) by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

Glass Lion For Change Grand Prix

‘Bloodnormal’ for Essity by AMVBBDO London

How did Australia do in the Glass Lion For Change?

No prizes.

Film Grand Prix

‘It’s a Tide Ad’ for Tide by Procter & Gamble Cincinatti and Saatchi & Saatchi New York

‘The Talk’ for Procter & Gamble by BBDO New York 

Australia’s performance in the Film Lions? 

Gold Lion to ‘Stop the Horror’ for Voluntary Euthanasia Victoria by Cummins & Partners Sydney

Silver Lion to ‘Virtual Equality’ for Queeraz by J Walter Thompson Sydney

Bronze Lion to ‘Pasta Sauce’ for Aldi Australia by BMF Advertising

On that note, we’re off to pack up our Eiffel Tower souvenir snow globes and spend our last Euros on a snail platter. Our work here is done. 

Au revoir and thanks for watching.