Can Canada’s Press dry spell in Cannes end?


22 Jun 2015


As you’d expect from a place called “The Palais,” it’s pretty, well, grand.

Its basement is far less so. And yet, this is my favourite place in the building. In these subterranean halls, all of the shortlisted and winning press, OOH and promo work is laid out for viewing in a massive gallery – my favourite being the press category.

It’s also the category where I find myself wondering why it feels like Canada’s presence seems lacking. So I searched for some numbers to help quantify what I was feeling. While Canada remains in the top 10 for number of entries overall, press entries are on a decline – 63 compared to last year’s 73.

But more telling is our performance in this category over the last five years, which looks like this:

2014: None shortlisted
2013: Two shortlisted , one Silver winner
2012: Four shortlisted , no winners
2011: Five shortlisted, one Silver winner
2010: Five shortlisted, one Bronze winner

I’d like to say it’s a matter of scale, and that places like Brazil dominate the press category simply because they get more opportunities to do so. But when you look at some of the year’s best print work, it immediately becomes apparent that award-winning print is coming from all over the world, no matter the size of the country.

So what’s happening to print in Canada?

Well, unless you’ve been living on a remote island, you no doubt know that print readership is down with a shifting consumer focus to online as a way to consume content. As subscription rates fall, so does our clients’ willingness to invest in the medium.

And when you look at the investment in the work shortlisted in Cannes, the level of craft and detail are jaw-dropping. The print represented in Cannes is elevated to a fine art – much of the work would be just as at home in an art gallery as at the Cannes Lions.

But, while readership is down, sales are up. The explanation for this paradox is answered by the fact that Canada’s relationship with this medium has become a far more practical one – as a vehicle to drive sales – and more and more brand print is being replaced by retail print.

So is great print dead in Canada?

While it’s limping, this year’s shortlisted work gives me a lot of hope that we’re seeing a small shift in our return to great print and that our gold dry spell might soon be over. My measurement for this is simple and completely unscientific.

It’s based solely on the fact that as I walked the press gallery this year, the campaign for Farnham Ale & Lager by Lg2, DDB’s Netflix work and “Ice cream” for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense from Grey, all felt confident and at home hanging in the Cannes gallery of the world’s best work.

Nancy’s original post appeared in Strategy Online (June 2015).

By: Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, VP creative director, FCB Toronto