Cannes predictions: what will women who don't work in advertising make of this year’s Cannes winners?

Cannes predictions

It's the time of year where everyone's making their Cannes predictions. But it can be easy to lose sight of what's important as we lose ourselves in the excitement of all that rosé. That is - what do real people think makes a good ad? As brands try to target women (responsible for 80% of all purchasing decisions), what will real women think of this year's festival?


It’s the calm before the storm. This week, the industry gets reflective, as everyone rests their eyes, writing hands and livers in the run up to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

It’s also the week where the industry’s Nostradamus’ make their Cannes predictions. We’ll be hearing plenty about the work that is predicted to win Titanium, as well as the usual furore of category crossover, repeat winners and controversial campaigns.

But as the excitement mounts in the lead-up to Cannes week, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. That’s why, on Tuesday 20th June, right in the middle of the Festival, we’ll be asking women from outside the world of advertising what they think of the work that wins.

As part of our ongoing 21st Century Woman initiative, we want to know whether this year’s Cannes successes work for ‘real’ women. After all, it’s this audience that are responsible for 80% of all purchasing decisions, a figure that brands (no matter how ‘creative’) would be hard pressed to ignore.

Even more importantly, this is a group that believes advertising needs to work a little harder. Earlier this year, our research found that 76% of women feel that brands are not representing them properly and 40% cite advertising as one of the most likely reasons to be self-critical. Not the most promising of statistics – and something we have made it our mission to improve upon.

But will women react differently – and more positively - when presented with the best of the best?

In true pre-Cannes spirit, we’re making our predictions for what’s going to happen when we ask women what they think of the work. Here’s what we are expecting the 21st Century Woman will make of Cannes:

1. The time for talking is done
It’s no longer enough to talk about the big issues, it’s time to act on them. We predict that the big feminist pieces, like The Fearless Girl, will win over real women, as well as the Glass Lion judges. And more importantly than that, we’re hoping that our panel will be demanding more of this kind of work in the future.

2. You don’t need an overtly female message to win over women
Being bold doesn’t just apply to a feminist message. It should be a manifesto for advertising in general. We predict that Channel 4’s Paralympic ad will do very well in Film, but that this message will really resonate with our panel of women too. It’s more filmic manifesto than ad – and it’s something that everyone, irrespective of whether they follow the Paralympics or not, can get behind.  

3. Honesty and realism will always engage people
What’s more engaging than a true story – especially in an arena where women are bombarded by unachievable ideals and unrealistic expectations? The big winners amongst our panel this year will be those transparent spots that present a warts-and-all view of real life. It’s why Meet Graham is likely to do so well.

4. Women hate those humdingers too
Last year, AlmapBBDO returned their Bronze Lion for their sexist Bayer aspirin ad – but the outrage still stings. We predict there will be more such controversies this year – and that women from outside the world of advertising will be just as scathing as those in the industry.  

5. Creativity does matter
Outside of the industry, advertising has a bad reputation. Our study showed that we all have a long way to go if we’re to change perceptions amongst women. But ultimately what we think makes a good ad is what real people will think makes a good ad. There’s plenty to be proud of in our industry – and we’re confident that our panel will see that too.   

Our panel next week will be an eclectic mix of ‘real’ women from all walks of life. We’re hopeful that they’ll show that the gap between industry and the real world is a small one, and that we all really want the same things – honest, thoughtful and creative ads that represent and engage customers in the right ways.

The 21st Century Woman will continue to be a powerful force and there’s never been a better time to start listening to her. For the sake of our customers, for the sake of our bottom line, and for the sake of creativity.

This piece was written by Erminia Blackden, Head of Strategy, Partners Andrews Aldridge.