The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity honours the brightest minds and groundbreaking ideas that shape the global creative landscape. This year, I had the privilege of being a Cannes Young Lions jury member and was blown away by the talent of the next generation.

I first started attending Cannes about fifteen years ago, and most years since. Each time I go, the expectation is that there will be transformative trends and tech. But the reality is that I’m reminded that it’s not about the latest and greatest, but rather, the basics.

At the core of every piece of award-winning work are the same two fundamentals:

ONE — A human idea at the core

TWO — Dedication to execution with craft

The most powerful, business-changing, brand-transforming work always has these two elements. A great idea without craft will never break through, and even industry-leading craft can’t save a superficial idea. Those two fundamentals together, however, have the power to change the health of a population, to change the fate of a community, to save a dying planet. 

We start with the human idea. This is where we spend the majority of our time, because if our aim is true, our execution will succeed. The human idea requires the combined expertise and experience of the integrated team, from understanding the client context to uncovering insights to carving the strategic path forward.

Once we have the idea, we bring it to life through craft that pushes our industry forward. Craft is not just creative. We all practice craft in our areas of expertise, from helping clients to be brave to strategies that unlock unforeseen and unexpected opportunities, to innovative design, tech, and experiences.

The best ideas don’t rely on trends or tech like deep-fakes or AI; rather, they see them as tools to bring the idea to life with industry-leading craft. Work will never win just because it incorporated a new trend or tech—newness is not enough.

Though the fundamentals remain the same, the bar for awards is higher than ever. Even as recently as ten years ago, the word ‘award’ had a much different meaning. Awards were seen as self-serving or taboo but now a different set of people make up the judging panel. Panels are now journalists, accounts, strategists – not just creatives. We must also reflect their priorities and considerations in the teams we create, ensuring that we're considering all angles of the problem and execution in order to achieve the most impact.

Going to Cannes means going back to the fundamentals. Every time I see the work, whether as an attendee or as a judge, I’m reminded that every Lion comes down to the human idea and dedication to craft. If we can all hold ourselves to these two fundamentals, we’ll create work that leads our industry in power and impact.