Thomas Kolster: How the sustainable development goals manage in Cannes

It can hardly be any better: A category that acclaims the creative contributions of brands and agencies to solve the world’s problems. And there is a lot to focus on because with its world goals (The Sustainable Development Goals), the UN has delivered a catalogue with 17 areas.

Thomas Kolster, the man behind Goodvertising, has been in The Sustainable Development Goals Lions Jury with other judges, David Droga from Droga5 and Per Pedersen from Grey, among others. 

“The category contains the essence of the professional journey I’ve been in over the past ten years. I have encouraged the Cannes organisation to create it, so in the joy of being a jury member, the joy of the category itself can be added.”  

The SDG category contains the probably toughest brief in Cannes: Ultimately creating a better world. “It is a huge opportunity to find and create relevance. At the same time, the SDG pave the way for inter-sectoral collaboration, because the global goals are a global language platform for the necessary changes we need to make. And it is the industry’s opportunity to get out of the product trap – and discuss solutions,” Thomas Kolster says. 

The conclusion of the tendencies in the categories is: “The creativity, production and execution are determined at a high level and there is an extreme breadth in the category – which is understandable because it is a new product and a new school. And among the submitters, both brands, agencies and individuals are seen.”

The outlet is unique and the executions are solid, but not everything is good: “I’m a little schizophrenic: On the one hand, I want to reward anyone who works for a better globe, on the other hand, my patience is not great. We are at the World Cup, and therefore the work must be extraordinarily good. And when you now know how ambitious the companies are at the SDG level, then it disappoints me to see so many examples of a big gap between creativity and impact,” Thomas Kolster says.

He elaborates: “I am strongly focused on the solution part, so the case must clearly show the difference it makes. And it must be scalable. I miss – on a broad scale – the gravity and the ability to dig deeper. The business section should get more space, now when it’s neither burgers nor cars we sell. We are moving fast from niche to business driver, because the sustainable brands are growing 5-6 times faster than conventional brands. And the players must report their results.”

Advice for Danish brands and agencies
Thomas Kolster has these advice for Danish agencies and brands that would like to apply in the SDG category in Cannes Lions:

  • The case video: It’s a classic, but it still counts: Remember to have a good craftsmanship and submit a fine and precise case video. It is a storytelling in itself, and no: Although it is a sustainability category, it does not have to be in black and white.
  • Highlight the point: Don’t hide it away. Catch people’s interest right away.
  • Quantify: Explain the difference you make. Turn it into measurable sizes.
  • The target group: Yet another classic, but still relevant: Are you talking to those who are already convinced, or to some who may be conscious but haven’t acted yet? SDG communication also includes an element of consumer education.

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