We are pleased to announce the judges for our inaugural Cannes Grey Lions competition. Set up by IAPI, in partnership with Standard Life, to tackle ageism in the industry and to celebrate the great advertising and marketing minds of those over 50.

Who, you may ask, could possibly be qualified to judge such highly experienced people? Well, we think we've brought together a great line-up of judges bringing a mixture of experience and fresh eyes to the process.

We're looking forward to reviewing all the entries, and based on what the Young Lions did with 48 hours in February, can we just say that the standard expected for the Grey Lions is really high!

Register to the briefing event taking place Friday 27 September to enter the competition.

They say there’s no substitute for experience and we plan to prove it.

The judges for the Cannes Grey Lions are:
The judges for the Cannes Grey Lions are:
Madeleine Morris
Madeleine Morris
Founder, The Society of Very Senior Creatives
Steven Mangan
Steven Mangan
Creative Director, Ringers
Sharon Smyth
Sharon Smyth
Head of Marketing, Standard Life
Dean Ryan
Dean Ryan
Art Director, JWT Folk Dublin
Garret O'Beirne
Garret O'Beirne
Head of EMEA Business Partnerships, Facebook
Charley Stoney
Charley Stoney
CEO, IAPI
Charity Representative
To be revealed
Madeleine Morris
Madeleine Morris

Madeleine has worked in many of London’s top advertising agencies including Grey, Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett. Before moving to adland, she was a successful set designer, working with such greats as Derek Jarman, Eddie Izzard and Wayne McGreggor.

Madeleine’s advertising career now spans over 20 years. She has written ground-breaking ads, won awards and campaigned to get more women into creative departments.

After becoming increasingly aware of the extreme ageism in the media industry, Madeleine founded ‘The Society of Very Senior Creatives’. She is on a mission to improve prospects for people over the age of 45 working in media and hopes this will affect how they are portrayed in ads.

Madeleine is a Bloom member and mentor, a Jolt Academy lecturer, mentor and crit’er and was a featured 'Lone Star' in the Campaign Annual - Hot in 2018.

But of all her achievements thus far, Madeleine is most proud of her 10-year-old daughter who surprises, delights and infuriates her on a daily basis.

Why the Cannes Grey Lions initiative by IAPI is a great idea:

“Stale. Past it. Out of touch. Expensive.”

“You’re not a digital native, there’s no way you’ll be able to relate to our target audience. Anyway, if you haven’t made Creative Director by now you can’t be any good – right?”

No one actually says the above out loud, but if you’re a creative in your 50’s (or older) working in adland you know people think it. It’s written all over their faces when you step into the interview room. If you even get that far. Most older creatives are screened out of the recruitment process way before that.

That’s why this new Cannes Grey Lion initiative by IAPI is a brilliant idea. Finally, it’s a chance for ‘Very Senior Creatives’ to show off their stripes. To silence the doubters and stick two fingers up at our ridiculously youth-oriented business. Because not everyone wants to be a Creative Director. Some people just love making ads. And if you’re still in the industry at this age, you’ve been creating and concepting ads for over two decades. You’ve honed your craft and can draw from a shedload of life experience.

Yes, you may be slightly more expensive, but you spend your time wisely and crack briefs fast. Grey hair doesn’t make your grey matter any less bright. So, let’s stop putting older creatives on the scrap heap. Let’s value their experience and their resilience. Let’s give them the accolades they deserve. Because if you’re good you should be celebrated, whatever age you are.

Steven Mangan
Steven Mangan

Steven cut his teeth in the music business before making the switch to the sedate world of advertising. A natural born collaborator, he has created everything from feature length TV shows to commercials to immersive brand experiences. In 2017 he co-founded Ringers, giving brands, teams and communities an unfair competitive advantage through creativity.

Why the Cannes Grey Lions initiative by IAPI is a great idea:

In a youth industry, oldies are dirt. Outsiders. Weirdos. Those guys.

But that’s what this whole crazy merry-go-round was built on, right? People who took a bat to the status quo and flipped everything. With one simple, game-changing idea.

We need it now more than ever. Because without different, challenging points of view we lose the only thing worth coming to work for. Surprises.

Sharon Smyth
Sharon Smyth

Sharon is Head of Marketing for Standard Life in Ireland. Specialising in financial services marketing, brand, sponsorship and advertising, Sharon has worked on Irish and international brands for 15 years.

While it’s a long way off for her, she is passionate about helping people live their best life in retirement for longer, via simple steps and great financial advice. Sharon and her team have successfully positioned Standard Life as the brand redefining pension planning with their award winning Second Life campaign.

Why the Cannes Grey Lions initiative by IAPI is a great idea:

I’m delighted Standard Life will be sponsoring the Cannes Grey Lions. It’s an honour to be linked to the awards and the competition fits well with our brand on two levels.

We’re a life savings company specialising in the retirement, area or “Second Life”. For many, it’s hard to know what to do with the extra 2,000 hours you gain each year in retirement and returning to the workplace is a real option. Our latest research reveals 18% of retirees work part time, and 6% return to full time work. This sponsorship builds on our award-winning Second Life campaign by providing an incredible opportunity to Second Lifers in the advertising world to undertake a new challenge.

My Standard Life colleagues have a palpable passion for our community and sponsoring the Cannes Grey Lions adds a new dimension to our work with charities.

Dean Ryan
Dean Ryan

Dean is an Art Director currently working in JWT Folk Dublin. He has worked with brands such as The National Lottery, Vodafone, An Post, Lucozade, Dublin City Council & The Marie Keating Foundation.

He enjoys creating work that has purpose, prompts action and is a firm believer in the ‘simple is best’ approach.

Why the Cannes Grey Lions initiative by IAPI is a great idea:

Dean pushed the idea of the Grey Lions Competition in order to tackle perceptions around ageism in the creative industry and to show that creatives over 50, who have spent their whole career training, perfecting and moulding their creative sensibilities, are just as capable in fresh ways of thinking as their young counterparts.

Afterall, creativity doesn’t have an expiry date.

Garret O'Beirne
Garret O'Beirne

Garret started his career in media over 20 years ago and has worked at specialist digital, full service creative and media specialist agencies in San Francisco, New York and Dublin. Most recently he led the digital offering at Omnicom Media Group, Ireland. He joined Facebook earlier this year where he is focused on maintaining the quality of ads on their platforms across EMEA.

Garret is a former Board Director and Vice President of IAPI.

Why the Cannes Grey Lions initiative by IAPI is a great idea:

This is a welcome initiative that highlights the prevalent but rarely discussed problem of ageism in adland. Agencies thrive on the energy, optimism and digital nativism of youth but too easily disregard the benefits of a more worldly, considered and mature outlook.

The Cannes Grey Lions will highlight the benefits of embracing an under-represented pool of talent and building diverse teams that better reflect and understand the consumer landscape: while over 30% of the population are aged 50+ less than 15% of Irish agency staff have hit the half-century mark.

Charley Stoney
Charley Stoney

Charley is one of the industry’s leading figures. Prior to taking up her appointment as CEO of IAPI, Charley spent four years as Managing Director of Alternatives, Ireland’s No.1 marketing talent solutions agency, and before that, she was Managing Director of leading field marketing agency, FMI Ltd, for six years, trebling the size of their business despite the recession.  

Her 25-year career to date has been spent predominantly in marketing agencies both in the UK and Ireland. She learnt her craft in Target Marketing before moving to the UK and after nearly a decade there, she returned to Ireland in 2003, to join McConnells Advertising where she founded and became Managing Director of McConnells Fusion.

Why the Cannes Grey Lions initiative by IAPI is a great idea:

Personally, I find the whole ageism subject totally baffling as I have always been drawn to people with energy, enthusiasm and creativity regardless of age. One of my favourite people as a teenager was my Great Uncle Walter who was still getting his letters published in The Irish Times at the age of 94! He and many other irreverent and fun older friends and relatives meant that I grew up without the usual prejudice around age.

Now that I’m over 50, I’m still equally drawn to those older and younger than I am. And I’m not unique in my view as is demonstrated by the fact that the whole Cannes Grey Lions competition was the brainchild of one of our Cannes Young Lions.

I’m extremely proud to be hosting this competition on behalf of our industry to celebrate all that is great about the experience, wisdom and creativity of this potentially shelved group of people. The purpose is to promote the value of those who have seen it all and done it all for decades yet still retain the enthusiasm and creativity of their younger counterparts!

Register to Enter
Register to Enter

The Cannes Grey Lions briefing event will take place on Friday 27 September in Teeling Whiskey Distillery, followed by a whiskey tasting.

Competitors must register and attend this event where the chosen charity will issue their brief. Each team will then be tasked with creating a stand-out, captivating, and unique campaign.

The competition winners will win an all expenses paid trip to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, 22-26 June 2020

Register to enter though our briefing event page.

Please remember to enter both team member names, email addresses and phone numbers. Teams must register to enter before Wednesday 25 September to secure their place.