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Cannes 2019: Young Lions Get Creative with Candy

Cannes 2019: Young Lions Get Creative with Candy

Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

May 3, 2019

Two of Havas Media Boston’s youngest minds will represent the US at the Cannes Young Lions Festival

"We actually still have the Slack messages saying, “if we do this, we’re not losing. We’re going to France.”

Two years ago Teresa James and Ben Nottonson met as interns at Havas Media Boston. Last week they won a competition to represent the US in the Media category at this year’s Cannes Young Lions competition.

James and Nottonson competed against 400 entries submitted from young professionals working across the industry. Six finalists teams were notified in April and invited to present their submission in New York to a panel of 10 judges comprised of noted industry veterans. The challenge was to develop a creative campaign in their category that would strengthen the brand and increase donations among millennials for non-profit, End Allergies Together (E.A.T).

Their victory earned them an all expenses paid trip to Cannes where they will compete at the festival against other winners from around the world in the Media category. There, they will receive a new brief and have 24 hours to create, develop, and present their idea. James, a Connections Planning Associate, and Nottonson, who works in Performance Media, break down why they teamed up, how they built their winning campaign, and what they’re looking forward to at the Young Lions competition.

 

How did you two decide to partner up for the Young Lions Competition:

Teresa James: As soon as I heard about this competition I was immediately interested, and when Ben sent me a message asking if I wanted to be his partner, I knew we had to give it a shot. We actually still have the Slack messages saying, “if we do this, we’re not losing. We’re going to France.” We were joking at the time to get each other excited and ready for the long work ahead but it’s funny to look back on now.

Ben Nottonson: Teresa and I had interned together the summer after junior year of college, where we’d become friends. We stayed close through both of us accepting full-time roles at Havas Media following graduation. We were familiar with each other’s work ethic and knew that we had very different ways of thinking. We are both competitive and hard workers so once we both showed interest in this competition, we knew we would both do whatever it took to win.

 

How did you learn about the competition?

TJ: Our agency sent out a company-wide email with a link to the website and we immediately started researching. We also had an internal meeting where former winners, including my brilliant director Ryan Patti, who gave us the inside scoop on what the competition entailed.

BN: Many people within the company were encouraging everyone throughout the office to enter. With this kind of talk around the office I was interested in learning more about the competition. I went to a roadshow hosted by previous winners where they gave us every bit of information from their experience. This had me hooked, and I left there knowing I wanted to participate. I saw it as a very unique way of thinking that was different from our everyday roles.

 

Tell us about the assignment. What led you to your insight?

TJ: Our assignment was to partner with the organization E.A.T to both raise awareness and increase donations.

I absolutely love doing research so that’s where I started. Ben is more of a big picture guy so he immediately started throwing out some crazy ideas. We met in the middle one night when we were munching on candy. While I was eating a Reese’s, Ben mentioned that he couldn’t have one. It honestly might have been a joke when we said, “imagine if we got rid of the peanut butter in a Reese’s.” This is how we came up with the big idea of partnering with Reese’s to create a peanut and dairy free product. After doing more research we found that Reese’s sales peak on holidays. We realized that the one holiday when strangers are feeding strangers, and no one is aware of others food restrictions is Halloween night. This led us to the insight that Halloween sheds light on the fact that most parents are ill-equipped when it comes to the topic of food allergies.

BN: We went back and forth on so many different ideas. Everything seemed too small. We not only wanted to reach the campaign goals, but we also wanted to blow them away and really come up with an idea that has the ability to get people to listen and care about allergies. I saw Teresa eating a Reese’s and was thinking that everyone loves Reese’s except for those people who can’t physically eat one. This was fitting with our thought process of allergies leading to exclusion, so that is what really got us talking. As Teresa said, we were kidding at first when we mentioned making an allergy-friendly Reese’s, but sometimes it is the wildest ideas that are the best.

"It was also lucky and helpful to have the perspective of having grown up with severe food allergies. It creates so many barriers that many people wouldn’t even realize."

How did you feel when you heard you won and will be representing the US in Cannes for the Young Lions competition?

TJ: It was crazy. We were sitting in the same room with all of the finalist teams, so it was a tough situation to be in. On the one hand, we were bursting with excitement, and on the other hand, we wanted to be respectful and cognizant of the fact that all of the other teams put in just as much hard work as we did and were probably feeling disappointed. We are incredibly honored, grateful, and beyond excited to represent the US in this competition.

BN: It still hasn’t fully set in for me. I was so confident in our idea, but honestly intimidated by the competition as a whole, as well as the other impressive finalists since we are so new to the industry. To finally hear that we won and that all of our hard work led to that one moment, was definitely a moment I’ll always remember. I feel so honored to be given this opportunity and I can’t wait to represent the US to the absolute best of my ability.

 

Why do you think you won?

TJ: I keep joking that we won because I wore these crazy orange pants to match our clients colors!  

On a more serious note though, I think it’s a combination of 2 things. First, Ben grew up with severe food allergies so working on a plan that was exciting and buzzworthy enough to get people to start talking about food allergies was personal for us. Second, we make a really great team because our brains work so differently, and the push and pull that came with that was ultimately what helped us land on our idea.

BN: Having a completely different perspective was so important in reaching each step in this plan. In the process of really building it out, it became so much different than either of our individual ideas at the start. It was also lucky and helpful to have the perspective of having grown up with severe food allergies. It creates so many barriers that many people wouldn’t even realize, so to understand that really helps to point the conversation in the direction where it needs to be. I also cannot thank enough everyone in the Boston office enough. As we mentioned, everyone offered so much help and support. My team specifically was so supportive throughout the whole process, and ready to jump in and help at any moment. Having that kind of support coming from every direction is an amazing feeling.

 

Any tips for future participants in the US competition?

TJ: If you think you’re too young or inexperienced to enter, think again! We are both less than a year out of college and, at first, were a little hesitant to take on such a large competition, as well as consider what it might look like to our teams. But the fact that we won is proof that great ideas can come from anyone, regardless of your experience level.

BN: Stay determined. It is a difficult and tiring experience, so it is easy to get discouraged. Regardless of the outcome, it is well worth the experience. So, just stay with it and stay motivated! And as Teresa said, there’s no such thing as too young or inexperienced.

 

What excites you the most about heading to Cannes?

TJ: Meeting other media professionals from around the world. It will be really interesting to hear everyone’s perspectives and to see how they vary from country to country.

BN: I am so excited to be able to meet so many incredible minds from all over the world. Media is something that obviously varies from country to country, but so many of the roots are the same. It will be an amazing opportunity to be able to talk, learn, and listen to all these people from such different places.

 

What excites you about the advertising industry?

TJ:  I think it’s a perfect balance between right and left brain thinking. A lot of the recommendations we give to our clients are a balance between art and science, and I think that’s really cool. The industry is also constantly changing as technology evolves. The fact that the landscape is going to look nothing like it does right now in 5 to 10 years is fascinating to me.

BN: I love how advertising is about people. Understanding and anticipating how people think combines both an emotional and rational aspect to bring a plan and idea altogether. On one end, you must create that emotional connection with the consumer, and on the other, all the business logistics must line up.

"We actually still have the Slack messages saying, “if we do this, we’re not losing. We’re going to France.”

Two years ago Teresa James and Ben Nottonson met as interns at Havas Media Boston. Last week they won a competition to represent the US in the Media category at this year’s Cannes Young Lions competition.

James and Nottonson competed against 400 entries submitted from young professionals working across the industry. Six finalists teams were notified in April and invited to present their submission in New York to a panel of 10 judges comprised of noted industry veterans. The challenge was to develop a creative campaign in their category that would strengthen the brand and increase donations among millennials for non-profit, End Allergies Together (E.A.T).

Their victory earned them an all expenses paid trip to Cannes where they will compete at the festival against other winners from around the world in the Media category. There, they will receive a new brief and have 24 hours to create, develop, and present their idea. James, a Connections Planning Associate, and Nottonson, who works in Performance Media, break down why they teamed up, how they built their winning campaign, and what they’re looking forward to at the Young Lions competition.

 

How did you two decide to partner up for the Young Lions Competition:

Teresa James: As soon as I heard about this competition I was immediately interested, and when Ben sent me a message asking if I wanted to be his partner, I knew we had to give it a shot. We actually still have the Slack messages saying, “if we do this, we’re not losing. We’re going to France.” We were joking at the time to get each other excited and ready for the long work ahead but it’s funny to look back on now.

Ben Nottonson: Teresa and I had interned together the summer after junior year of college, where we’d become friends. We stayed close through both of us accepting full-time roles at Havas Media following graduation. We were familiar with each other’s work ethic and knew that we had very different ways of thinking. We are both competitive and hard workers so once we both showed interest in this competition, we knew we would both do whatever it took to win.

 

How did you learn about the competition?

TJ: Our agency sent out a company-wide email with a link to the website and we immediately started researching. We also had an internal meeting where former winners, including my brilliant director Ryan Patti, who gave us the inside scoop on what the competition entailed.

BN: Many people within the company were encouraging everyone throughout the office to enter. With this kind of talk around the office I was interested in learning more about the competition. I went to a roadshow hosted by previous winners where they gave us every bit of information from their experience. This had me hooked, and I left there knowing I wanted to participate. I saw it as a very unique way of thinking that was different from our everyday roles.

 

Tell us about the assignment. What led you to your insight?

TJ: Our assignment was to partner with the organization E.A.T to both raise awareness and increase donations.

I absolutely love doing research so that’s where I started. Ben is more of a big picture guy so he immediately started throwing out some crazy ideas. We met in the middle one night when we were munching on candy. While I was eating a Reese’s, Ben mentioned that he couldn’t have one. It honestly might have been a joke when we said, “imagine if we got rid of the peanut butter in a Reese’s.” This is how we came up with the big idea of partnering with Reese’s to create a peanut and dairy free product. After doing more research we found that Reese’s sales peak on holidays. We realized that the one holiday when strangers are feeding strangers, and no one is aware of others food restrictions is Halloween night. This led us to the insight that Halloween sheds light on the fact that most parents are ill-equipped when it comes to the topic of food allergies.

BN: We went back and forth on so many different ideas. Everything seemed too small. We not only wanted to reach the campaign goals, but we also wanted to blow them away and really come up with an idea that has the ability to get people to listen and care about allergies. I saw Teresa eating a Reese’s and was thinking that everyone loves Reese’s except for those people who can’t physically eat one. This was fitting with our thought process of allergies leading to exclusion, so that is what really got us talking. As Teresa said, we were kidding at first when we mentioned making an allergy-friendly Reese’s, but sometimes it is the wildest ideas that are the best.

"It was also lucky and helpful to have the perspective of having grown up with severe food allergies. It creates so many barriers that many people wouldn’t even realize."

How did you feel when you heard you won and will be representing the US in Cannes for the Young Lions competition?

TJ: It was crazy. We were sitting in the same room with all of the finalist teams, so it was a tough situation to be in. On the one hand, we were bursting with excitement, and on the other hand, we wanted to be respectful and cognizant of the fact that all of the other teams put in just as much hard work as we did and were probably feeling disappointed. We are incredibly honored, grateful, and beyond excited to represent the US in this competition.

BN: It still hasn’t fully set in for me. I was so confident in our idea, but honestly intimidated by the competition as a whole, as well as the other impressive finalists since we are so new to the industry. To finally hear that we won and that all of our hard work led to that one moment, was definitely a moment I’ll always remember. I feel so honored to be given this opportunity and I can’t wait to represent the US to the absolute best of my ability.

 

Why do you think you won?

TJ: I keep joking that we won because I wore these crazy orange pants to match our clients colors!  

On a more serious note though, I think it’s a combination of 2 things. First, Ben grew up with severe food allergies so working on a plan that was exciting and buzzworthy enough to get people to start talking about food allergies was personal for us. Second, we make a really great team because our brains work so differently, and the push and pull that came with that was ultimately what helped us land on our idea.

BN: Having a completely different perspective was so important in reaching each step in this plan. In the process of really building it out, it became so much different than either of our individual ideas at the start. It was also lucky and helpful to have the perspective of having grown up with severe food allergies. It creates so many barriers that many people wouldn’t even realize, so to understand that really helps to point the conversation in the direction where it needs to be. I also cannot thank enough everyone in the Boston office enough. As we mentioned, everyone offered so much help and support. My team specifically was so supportive throughout the whole process, and ready to jump in and help at any moment. Having that kind of support coming from every direction is an amazing feeling.

 

Any tips for future participants in the US competition?

TJ: If you think you’re too young or inexperienced to enter, think again! We are both less than a year out of college and, at first, were a little hesitant to take on such a large competition, as well as consider what it might look like to our teams. But the fact that we won is proof that great ideas can come from anyone, regardless of your experience level.

BN: Stay determined. It is a difficult and tiring experience, so it is easy to get discouraged. Regardless of the outcome, it is well worth the experience. So, just stay with it and stay motivated! And as Teresa said, there’s no such thing as too young or inexperienced.

 

What excites you the most about heading to Cannes?

TJ: Meeting other media professionals from around the world. It will be really interesting to hear everyone’s perspectives and to see how they vary from country to country.

BN: I am so excited to be able to meet so many incredible minds from all over the world. Media is something that obviously varies from country to country, but so many of the roots are the same. It will be an amazing opportunity to be able to talk, learn, and listen to all these people from such different places.

 

What excites you about the advertising industry?

TJ:  I think it’s a perfect balance between right and left brain thinking. A lot of the recommendations we give to our clients are a balance between art and science, and I think that’s really cool. The industry is also constantly changing as technology evolves. The fact that the landscape is going to look nothing like it does right now in 5 to 10 years is fascinating to me.

BN: I love how advertising is about people. Understanding and anticipating how people think combines both an emotional and rational aspect to bring a plan and idea altogether. On one end, you must create that emotional connection with the consumer, and on the other, all the business logistics must line up.

Danielle Smith is the Communications Manager of Havas Group. She’s believes every meal can be tacos if you have tortillas and the heart to try.

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