Having many creative people in the same place, for the right reason could be atomically powerful. It also attracts charlatans, buzzword bingo callers and all manner of distractions.
Commentators far more seasoned and wise than I can ever be, have confessed some confusion and disappointment.
What is meant to be a celebration of global creativity has de-evolved into something closer to a trade show. Vendors of tools and channels have driven their tech bubble tanks over the beachhead and into the very Lion heart. There have long been problems:
• Campaigns made to win awards
• The gangrenous genres that win them
• How little these have to do with client needs or consumer reality
To this cadaverous cocktail of crap we can now stir in:
• An alphabet soup of acronyms and algorithms
• Blingtard Sleb Social Media emissions
• Awards for any stuff that is made by anyone for any reason
The Old Masters of our industry would have no truck with such nonsense.
From a Lion to LOLCats
When marketing and advertising first crawled out from under a slimy self-imposed rock of shame in the 1960s, there were few awards to be had.
One of them, for film executions, shared a city with the Venice Film Festival and a trophy mascot inspired by the Lion of Piazza San Marco. Others were for local Art and Design scenes - and were a quiet badge of honour from one's peers for a job well done.
This could never be enough for a growing, global industry filled with clients, agencies and individuals gagging for gongs.
All must have prizes
Long after swimming to Cannes, the Lions spawned a pride of line extensions.
Cyber, Promo, Jingles, PR, Media, Stuff, Design, Door Drops, Novelty Key Rings and more. These then got shoved back together more awkwardly than a clown car act.
This makes tremendous business sense because more prizes mean more entrants, more interested parties, more hotel rooms, passes and bar bills. Fine - it is fun and keeps a lot of people merry, employed and sandy but what's the point?
Especially when having so many categories and prizes blunts us from the reality that divisions between marketing disciplines are largely artificial. A 'PR' campaign that involves paid media and making content - where does that go? A radio, TV and Social campaign that gets a busload of press coverage and has a direct call to action - is it cheating to enter five categories?
It is time for the industry to bite back.
The Lions need to be culled down to the inspiring creative core purpose the best of us bring to work every day.
It may still be lurking underneath all the discarded vendor brochures, glitterati, glad-handing, agency comms blah, confused clients and epic, tragic hangovers.