Young Lions roam French savannah, mix business with pleasure

It’s not just the grizzled old leaders of the advertising pack that can be found wandering the halls and corridors of the Palais des Festivals. Slinking along in their shadows, sniffing the air for any sign of weakness are the Young Lions. Our maan in Cannes (or, depending on your pronunciation, our mans in Cannes), Martin Bell risks his personal safety in pursuit of Leonine quarry.

During the Cannes Lions Festival week, teams of young creatives from all over the world participate in five Young Lions Competitions. Contained within the talented ranks of these up and comers are four Kiwi whippersnappers: Augusta Grayson and James Davidson from SparkPHD, finalists in the Young Lions Media Competition and Nicole Hetherington and Simon Fowler from Y&R in the Cyber category.

Winning the New Zealand leg of the competition was undoubtedly a career boost, but they’re here in Cannes to take home some serious silverware. It’s a Young Lion or bust for the fab four.

Grayson and Davidson are currently in lockdown for the Media competition, hermetically sealed in a bunker somewhere in the bowels of the Palais des Festivals. Each team works to a brief presented by a charity or NFP organisation and with just 24 hours to work on their media strategy, the competing teams prepare their submission in the form of a five minute presentation that is delivered to – and judged by – a panel of four media experts. Gold, silver and bronze are awarded to the winners with the gold-winning team receiving its prize at a glittering awards ceremony on Tuesday evening. Main course? Gazelle.

On Tuesday the cone of silence descends onto Hetherington and Fowler who have 24 hours to create a web ad after being briefed by a charity. They get to consider the brief overnight and work on their idea tomorrow, with a deadline for delivery of 8.00pm. Gold, silver and bronze awards will be handed out at a ceremony on Wednesday evening.

But away from the pressure cooker of competition, our Young Lions like nothing more than to frolic in the avenues and alleyways of Cannes. With a penchant for fine French cuisine and the best that the vines of Bordeaux have to offer, these magnificent carefree beasts have been known to savage corporate credit cards with wilful impunity.

In a Cannes first, I have tagged and released all four Young Lions with Sony Bloggie Flip cameras. Footage will be uploaded when they return from their wanderings to their territorial home each evening and will be available exclusively on StopPress. It should provide a fascinating insight into the lives of these sometimes secretive, often misunderstood and always talented creatures.

Check in tomorrow for the first gripping instalment – in the mean-time here are a couple of shots of our young Kiwi Lions terrorising an innocent local restaurant.

They look so harmless. Four Young Lions and a kindly Lioness. L:R Sandra King, group sales and marketing manager Fairfax Media, James Davidson from SparkPHD, Simon Fowler from Y&R, Nicole Hetherington from Y&R, Augusta Grayson from SparkPHD

The Young Lions’ natural habitat

Young Lion Nicole Hetherington shortly before the feeding frenzy

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