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Jury President Natalie Lam on authenticity, purpose, and why this year’s Grand Prix gave the jury a ‘mic drop moment’

CANNES, FRANCE — Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022 has begun and all the big names in the industry are on-ground to celebrate creative excellence. One of them is Publicis Groupe APAC & MEA Chief Creative Officer Natalie Lam, who is this year’s jury president for the Print & Publishing Lions.

A vital part of the advertising industry for over two decades now, Lam has been the executive creative director for some of the most esteemed agencies in the world such as OgilvyOne, R/GA, McCann Erickson, Razorfish, and Google’s in-house agency Art, Copy & Code. She’s created excellent work for some of the world’s biggest brands and platforms, like Nike, Spotify, Adidas, Cadillac, and Instagram.

As someone who started her illustrious creative career as a print designer and is no stranger to the biggest award shows in the industry — including Cannes, D&AD, and The One Show, to name a few — both as a frequent winner and judge, Lam is the best person to take on the jury president role for the Print & Publishing category.

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With Cannes Lions 2022 kicking off, adobo Magazine had a chat with Lam about this year’s festivities, the Grand Prix winner, and her vision for the future of print in the industry.

Lam shared that this is the first in-person awards show that she’ll be judging and getting to do so in real life, as opposed to virtually, really made a difference.

“You just cannot replace human beings, you know? People’s mannerisms, their little expressions, the little sounds they make. All of those [really add] more dimension to understanding someone [compared to] just watching just their face and a fake background,” Lam told adobo Magazine Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero. “So, it’s an instant human connection that we’re bringing back in and that’s great.”

When asked about the role the print and publishing plays in today’s digital age, Lam referred back to her beginnings in the industry as a designer.

“I started in print design, I started designing [by] putting things on paper. The fundamentals of what I learned back in the day, I applied it to all the media,” she said. Lam elaborates that regardless of the medium, it all goes back to the basics of what all creatives in the industry are trying to answer. “What are we trying to convey? What is the point we’re making and how is it right for the brand? How is it relevant to the audience?”

This year, the “The Elections Edition” by Impact BBDO Dubai for Annahar Newspaper took home the Grand Prix for Print & Publishing.

“Initially, I didn’t have that visceral reaction, but a lot of jurors said that when they first saw this, it was clearly a standout because everyone has that gut reaction because it’s so powerful it’s so unexpected. “This entry was so direct, so bold, and kind of like a mic drop moment for a lot of jurors. And that sort of great initial reaction stayed with them through the end. That’s basically the power of this piece.”

“The Elections Edition” campaign was one that brought awareness to the fight to make elections happen in Lebanon and has been one of the most viral purpose-driven work in the past year. When asked about what she thinks about purpose-driven campaigns in general, Lam said that it’s all about whether it’s authentic and the best thing for the brand.

“The big thing is [the question of] ‘Is it authentic?’ Whether it’s purpose-driven work, whether it’s selling a product. Is it believable? Is it authentic? Is it right for the brand? Is it relevant to the audience?” she posed. “We see a lot of brands jumping on the virtue signalling bandwagon just because it’s become a trend to do so.”

Lam also touched on what she envisions the future of print and publishing is going to be and what needs to be done for it to truly evolve and continue to offer fresh and innovative works.

“I think that we should just keep on exploring more. Do the classic really well, and then think of how do we hack it? How do we improvise it? How do we grow it? How do we turn it upside down?” Lam shared.

“The classic elements will still be there — great shot, great messaging, right for the brand, right for the audience. But we definitely should think more about innovative ways of using the medium,” Lam said. “We’re starting to see some unexpected ways of using the medium, and I think definitely we can do a lot more about it.”

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