Dinu Panescu: When you see the Lions sitting next to the coffee machine you know they can be defeated

Advertising, Cannes Lions

Dinu Panescu, Group Creative Director McCann Erickson Romania, will be present at 2012 Cannes Lions as member in the Direct Jury, that is presided this year by Gideon Amichay, former Chief Creative Officer and Joint Managing Partner of Shalmor Avnon Amichay / Y&R Interactive Tel Aviv . More than being the only Romanian juror at Cannes this year, Dinu Panescu is also part of “the golden team” from McCann Erickson, that came home last year with a bunch of Lions for Rom campaign.

Dan Hariga had the change “to question” Dinu Panescu about Cannes and here’s the result.

Dan Hariga: First of all, congratulations for being the only Romanian this year in the CannesLions jury, the Direct section. What are your thoughts on this matter? Have you found your passion for Direct with this occasion?

Dinu Panescu: Thank you. I had found my passion for Direct a long time ago. Our great ancestors were using direct response mechanisms many decades ago and the results were often breathtaking. Somehow it all comes back now thanks (sic!) to the crisis which asks for new creative ways to persuade people to buy.

Regarding my presence in the jury, I try to look at it humbly. First of all there’s been a big team around the American Rom and we all spilled our guts to make it happen. So the fact that it’s me there and not somebody else from the team is just a matter of fate. Then, I think it’s also a sign for us that the doors of Cannes are open and the only thing we have to do is walk in. I know it’s hard but it’s a lot “less impossible” than 5 years ago for example. Last but not least, I strongly believe that our chance in Cannes comes mainly from Direct, Cyber, Promo, or PR. These are categories, disciplines in which we can make a big difference long before we jump into the arena of Film or Print for example.

D.H.: Did you see any of the Direct works so far? What`s your first impression?

D.P.: The judging process hasn’t started yet. I’ve only seen what you guys have seen as well. Lots of great ideas all over the Internet.

D.H.:  I know Adrian Botan had a rough time as a juror at Eurobest. Did he give you some kind of advice on how it is to be in this situation?

D.P.: No idea about this one. We’ve talked about judging in general. The most important thing is to never support your own submission. That’s common sense. It obviously makes you look bad.

D.H.: You have opened a great door last year with “American Rom”. What are your expectations for this year for Romanian advertising and McCann in particular, at CannesLions? What are your hopes for the campaign “Romanians are smart”?

D.P.: Thank you. Well, we hope to get 10 Lions instead of 9, Agency Of The Year and The Sexiest Creatives Alive Award. No pressure.

D.H.:Did you see any change for the better in Romanian advertising, in the year that passed, after you proved that extraordinary work can de done, and great awards can be won? How about in your own agency?

D.P.: In McCann, the appetite for metals isn’t new. The agency has been winning constantly for a decade almost anything out there that could be won. Last year’s Cannes only gave even more courage to everybody. When you see the Lions sitting next to the coffee machine, you know they can be defeated. That was the difference. People are mature here and trust me, there was no frenzy in July or August. Everybody kept sweating and trying to make the most of every brief. Like always.

D.H.: Did any changes occur in the way clients think?

D.P.: I think their expectations are even higher than before. They listen more carefully when we talk about a completely new way of approaching an old problem. Some of them involve us more and more in their businesses. And we couldn’t be more grateful, because in times like these it takes a lot of guts and vision to be open. To climb out of the trench and start exploring new areas.

D.H.: Please tell us how you ended up in advertising. What was your route to becoming Group Creative at McCann Erickson and winner of 9 lions at Cannes?

D.P.: I started my career in television at 17 by pure chance. It was love at first sight with the audio-visual (pardon the pun) and then I discovered advertising. When that TV station started to dive uncontrollably I took a deep breath and jumped into advertising. I was 20 and I was dreaming of shooting commercials with sexy women. I never got to fulfill this dream. Instead I ran into a few hairy guys with big brains who let me steal their secrets. After 7 years in a couple of agencies – including 4 at Friends – I landed at McCann in 2008. All in all, nothing spectacular. I was just lucid enough to be in the right place at the right time. Oh, and I think I fall asleep harder than others.

D.H.: Tell us a little about the “Cannes Effect”. It must be even greater, being awarded 9 lions.

It’s touching how people now stop me on the street and ask for autographs. Come on… 🙂