Tom Richards is Chief Creative Officer of the Havas Lynx Group. This year Tom has been appointed to sit on the Health & Wellness judging panel at the prestigious Cannes Lions Awards. It is the largest gathering of worldwide advertising professionals, designers, digital innovators and marketers. The Health & Wellness Lion celebrates creativity for personal wellbeing through work that demonstrates an inspired approach to consumer healthcare. In this blog, Tom shares with us what life has been like as a Cannes Lions judge to date…

Pride. That’s what winning a lion is all about.

And pride is the massive emotion I’m still feeling after being selected to judge and join the long legacy of names associated with Cannes Lions. But I also know I have a huge responsibility to maintain standards.

The All Blacks, the most successful rugby team in history, use a phrase: when you wear the coveted All Blacks jersey, you must hand it over to the next player in a better condition than when you wore it.* That doesn’t mean freshly pressed and smelling of conditioner. It means handing it over with a better reputation than the last rugby playing legend that wore it.

And that’s what I intend to do when I judge at Cannes this year. I want to leave the Health and Wellness Lions in a better place, knowing that I have played my part in continuing the legacy, raising the standards of creativity while building on previous Lion winning work.

Yes, yes, I know it’s the start of the football World Cup and I’m using the wrong sport as an analogy, but as Sir John said, when the world zigs, zag.

To carry on with the analogy, I see myself and the judging panel very much like the Barbarians – a select rugby team made up of players from different clubs and nationalities. Captained by the legend R.John Fedelino, we’ll be looking for courage, flair, impact and different disciplines collaborating in winning combinations to create true firsts. Work that actually works, ideas that have direct human results. Impact that isn’t measured on engagements or impressions but has real tangible results. Work that can save lives, change laws and behaviour or makes a considerable difference to those affected will start to dominate. Definitely the sort of flair and passion you find on a rugby pitch.

We’ll be looking for ideas that aren’t driven by the look and feel, trendy art direction or a huge budget. But simple ideas that you can tell a friend over a coffee or chilled glass of rosé and they instantly get it.

And that’s because a successful creative idea is defined by a simple human truth and has an insight at its heart. Importantly, it has to solve a problem and stop you in your tracks, it makes you take notice. I like an idea you can actually feel. Just like a rugby tackle from a 20 stone prop forward, it leaves a lasting impression on you.

With 600 entries to pre-judge, I had to literally squeeze in the judging between, work, family and social life. Just do the maths, if each entry has a minimum two-minute case study film, that’s 20 hours of non-stop viewing. Not counting the longer format pieces.

Surprisingly I found the old adage about creative inspiration striking in the strangest places, and at the most unexpected moments, ringing true. Because I really did end up judging in unexpected and strange places. Thus, the random pictures.

Spoiler Alert: I must report that the standard is fantastic this year. It’s going to be tough choosing the selection of work to put through to the shortlist line up. Competition will be fierce.

And if the Health & Wellness judging team succeed as well as we’re hoping this year, then look out for our Maori Haka at the closing gala. Except we’ll be turning a war dance into a celebration.

Anyone know of a good pub to watch Wales V Argentina on Saturday night in Cannes?

* From the book Legacy. 15 lessons in leadership from the All Blacks by James Kerr

Great book, definitely worth a read.