Cannes Lions 2019: Dentsu Jayme Syfu’s Merlee Jayme and Her “Cannestemplation” – 5 Things the Chairmom Learned in Judging for Glass Lions

CANNES, FRANCE – The biggest creative festival and most prestigious awards show in the industry is the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, one that connects creative leaders from all over the world and honors only the best works. Dentsu JaymeSyfu Chairmom and Chief Creative Officer Merlee Jayme participated in the event this year in Cannes as a jury member in the Glass Lions category, honoring the campaigns that spark a change in society. She shared lessons from her experiences with us in this piece:


Brand equities continuously updating their equity-messaging in the digital world:

Burger King, popularly known for its fun, competitive spirit, (think campaigns like Whopper Detour which has won Grand Prix in this year’s Cannes Lions) has become even braver by making their customers look for their products in McDonald’s!  Disguising its use of technology with a bold idea, the brand definitely won minds (yup it’s 1 penny for a whopper) and hearts of more consumers.

What was brilliant was the fact that it played with technology that was not necessarily new: Geofencing and mobile order and payment. It definitely wasn’t a “one-location, one-day stunt” but an idea that changed the rules of direct marketing, experiential and e-commerce technology.

Redefining how equity is handled too is Wendy’s, which has made a big statement on their“No frozen beef” claim by joining the popular online game “Fortnite”. This campaign beats Nike “Dream Crazy” for the inaugural Social and Influencer category’s Grand Prix Lion, showing that judges have started looking for brands that creatively hone their voice and message on social platforms, and push the medium to becoming a real player in the creative world.

Here’s what the Jury President had to say about this idea:“There’s so much to love about this,” said PJ Pereira, co-founder and creative chairman of Pereira O’Dell and global and jury president for Social and Influencer.“There’s the sense of a brand jumping in so quickly into a new form of social that Fortnite represents. The mischievousness of this, and the nimbleness of going there and figuring out that the character looks just like their main character.”“There’s a clear movement happening towards creating purpose around the trends,” said Pereira. “Cannes is where trends hit their apex, but also where new trends are established.”


Brands are also taking a noble stance of making the idea accessible to other brands for a higher purpose. #ShowUs by Dove, in partnership with Girl Gaze and Getty Images is evidence of that.

To highlight their “real beauty” positioning, Dove wants to pioneer the change to show a more diverse representation of women worldwide. Girlgaze’s 179 photographers has searched, and defined beauty on their own terms. They made sure that every kind of woman feels represented via culture, color, shape, size, imperfections and what have you. No models allowed. These were all housed in Getty Images and iStock for any brand to use.

Dove is even offering women around the world the chance to add their images to the library and be part of the change simply by using the hashtag: #ShowUs

A number of major companies have pledged to back Project #ShowUs for their brands, including Spotify, Colgate, Mastercard, CBS, National Basketball Association, CSM LeadDog, Merkle, Vidcom, Alma DDB, Sprinklr, Mindshare, News Corp, Ogilvy, Droga5, New York Times, IPG, Danone, You & Mr Jones, Wunderman Thompson, Diagio, The Martin Agency, Esprit, 29 Horas, DDB, Diageo and Publicis Sapient.

Volvo’s E.V.A. Initiative

A fun fact: Volvo has been collecting data from accidents in Sweden for almost 50 years and it is now making its research accessible to all. The E.V.A. Initiative is borne out of the fact that Crash dummies are based on a male body. And, through data collected by Volvo over the years, they’ve put together learnings on the effects of a car crash on a female body.

After the launch, they’ve made the data accessible on their website for other car makers.


Cannes has started talking about “diversity” for a few years now. It first tackled issues on women inclusion, then race and color, then gender neutrality or non-binary genders, and now, 2019 has been all about “the disabled”.

In other articles of Cannes trends, the focus on the disabled is part of accessibility. But after watching a spot on the industry’s hiring trends, diversity has now become all the more inclusive with the disabled as the main focus.

One of the big winners is McCann New York’s “Changing the Game” for Microsoft.

This campaign created buzz at this year’s Super Bowl, and features the stories of 9-year old gamers who use the Xbox Adaptive Controller, to play their favorite video games, which was especially designed to meet their needs: limited mobility.

Another example is “See Sound”, a smart-home device from WAVIO- a company that specializes in sound recognition. This device has been created for those who are hard of hearing, using machine learning to identify sounds around the home (such as a doorbell, fire alarm, baby cries, dog barking) and alerts the user through a mobile app.


The topic of brand purpose and authenticity were constantly being discussed. There were  conversations about companies claiming a higher need for their brands which seemed far from being genuine. It went as far as some brand campaigns were simply superficial.

Unilever’s CEO Alan Jope warned against “woke-washing,” which is when brands run purpose-driven campaigns but don’t take real action. “It threatens to further destroy trust in our industry when it’s already in short supply,” Jope said.

In contrast, examples like Dove pushed for authenticity with its own purpose of generating self-esteem among women starting 15-years ago, and continuously working with the University of the West of England to document its work.

Here are the 3 campaigns that created much buzz during the festival:
Nike’s Colin Kaepernick-fronted “Dream Crazy

Gillette’s campaign confronting toxic masculinity

Microsoft’s promoting accessibility for the disabled.

Are these real purpose or fake woke-ness? Be the judge.


No one offs.

Listening to the Grand Prix press conference for the inaugural Sustainable Development Goals Lions Category, I actually heard David Droga present the winning idea as hugely scalable. For him, “The Lion’s Share” won because the campaign proved it had a real big impact, funds for United Nations Development Programme, and because the idea can go far and wide.

Dove’ s #ShowUs : when other brands and agencies are already starting to use this diverse image bank, that’s scale.

Libresse’ “Viva La Vulva” celebrated “vulvas” and wiped out this taboo worldwide. That’s scale.

That’s it! Five learnings. Some old but evolving to new forms. Some are new but somehow, we’ve expected all along. My one great takeaway? Cannes isn’t really about showing us the future of creativity. It celebrates what we experience real time in this industry. How we evolve. How we change and adapt. And, most importantly, how all of us create our very best to stay relevant to our brands and provide inspiring solutions for the world year after year.

Catch our interview with Merlee about the judging process for Glass Lions in Cannes:

About the Author

Dentsu JaymeSyfu’s Chairmom and Chief Creative Officer, Merlee Jayme, is the first Filipino to be awarded Campaign Asia Pacific’s Creative of the Year for Southeast Asia, the only woman in Campaign Brief Asia’s Top 20 Creative Directors, a winner of amajor awards like the Cannes Grand Prix for Mobile, a Grand CLIO, NYF Grand Award and the D&AD Yellow pencil.

She has also been recognized with the NEW YORK FESTIVALS CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD and featured as one of CNN’s Leading Women in 2015.

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