86343601-F551-413A-A2C5-4C91B1960AAF Created with sketchtool. D1681562-9B56-4AA3-A659-E4329F356674 Created with sketchtool. 934F8DA0-9E27-42BD-8CE3-D245838B7017 Created with sketchtool. ABBF01E5-99A9-4F8E-A5B6-D8D0DFCAA1DF Created with sketchtool. 52B86ADF-15D7-4BEB-87CA-3619D1900DF7 Created with sketchtool. 7589DD6C-9BE1-49A5-8D68-4F50FBA8B794 Created with sketchtool. close button Created with Sketch. 6BB0D236-0C4D-43DD-9499-76C2156B2D45 Created with sketchtool. 14E4A84F-4D0B-4D5F-B884-907C3F4246BE Created with sketchtool. 2C0B0BEE-6DF1-41ED-96BE-B08D012E4E7E Created with sketchtool. 0C8DBC52-E08E-4F0A-AE54-AE9BB73113CC Created with sketchtool. instagram Created with Sketch. F79C22BD-1248-4072-AC81-B134598B2AA5 Created with sketchtool. F79C22BD-1248-4072-AC81-B134598B2AA5 Created with sketchtool. C9FD7B3E-0845-41B2-ACCB-6714158590FB Created with sketchtool. 9390E317-BF7B-47ED-B954-052183D5FB1C Created with sketchtool. Combined Shape Created with Sketch. 33AF606F-4AB8-48BF-88F5-131EAFCB6433 Created with sketchtool. 8318C22D-D94B-44A9-AB45-C1392FAA4A70 Created with sketchtool. 61A8DE16-3685-4C96-8420-67656881EA29 Created with sketchtool. D1CB3555-9A1D-4970-80EF-E3ABD5BACF7D Created with sketchtool. F80B5C4D-057D-4477-AF86-E46BC62AC7A4 Created with sketchtool. Search icon Created with Sketch. A3C99BA3-E981-44D5-BCA9-B1C8A5D09E36 Created with sketchtool. BC8D40A0-6611-4C38-8AD4-8E2D17FA6DC3 Created with sketchtool.

Life after Lions: How winning Young Lions changed my career

Michael DiSalvo won the Young PR Lions competition last year and it changed his career. Here are the five ways how winning shook things up!

created on Friday 5 May 2017

MICHAEL DISALVO: "I once heard Ogilvy Worldwide Chairman & CEO, John Seifert, describe his 37-year career as a series of chapters in the same book, eras of time separated by notable milestones that marked a transition from one period to the next. For me, my career can be separated into life before and after the 2016 Cannes Young Lions.

A year ago, my reputation in the office had as much to do with small talk and happy hours as career accomplishments. That changed when my partner (or dare I say, friend) and I took home Gold at the 2016 Cannes Young Lions PR Competition.  

(Left to Right: Michael DiSalvo, 2016 Cannes Young Lions PR Gold Winner; Stuart Smith, Ogilvy Public Relations CEO, and Ben King, 2016 Cannes Young Lions PR Gold Winner)

While Ogilvy has never been shy about affording me opportunities, none have changed my career like the Young Lions competition. If you’re wondering what the Young Lions means to the industry or to those who compete, here are five ways my life has changed since taking the Gold back to the U.S last year.
"The Young Lions competition forces you to break out of your routine and flex muscles you might not use every day." 
Michael DiSalvo

#1: Awards bring rewards

Working for an agency that holds the Cannes Festival of Creativity in high esteem pays off (literally). Within two months of returning from Cannes, both I and my partner took on new positions within Ogilvy and its parent company, WPP respectively, with greater responsibilities and shiny new titles for our LinkedIn profiles. Along with the upward mobility and résumé-building accolade, new opportunities arose, like participating in the unprecedented Common Ground initiative in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals or helping to shape the future of Ogilvy in its ‘Next Chapter’ initiatives. We were fortunate that Ogilvy made sure to celebrate our success, plastering the office with streamers, offering champagne toasts from senior leaders, and printing our photos on cakes. Lesson learned: if you want someone to remember your face, paint it in frosting. 

#2: Sharpened my skill set

The Young Lions competition forces you to break out of your routine and flex muscles you might not use every day. The intensive two-day experience helped me fine tune skills that had fallen into disrepair (and also strengthened my appreciation for Rosé). The final Young Lions presentation is a master class in brevity, creativity and salesmanship. If you can sell 10 slides in five minutes, an hour-long client presentation becomes no problem. 

#3: Made me an 'industry adult'

Having taken an Ogilvy internship out of college, it is quite literally the only job and home I’ve ever known. After seven years, I still find myself feeling like the bright-eyed newbie who could not figure out the printers. The experience at Cannes filled me with confidence in my talents, and reassured me that I was following the right path. It helped me approach my day job with a surprising maturity and a sense I belonged in the industry, allowing me to shed the unnecessary pressure that comes with proving yourself.

#4: Renewed my passion

The experience at Cannes reinvigorated my spirit and faith in the Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing industries. The Global competition was intense. However, when you are literally surrounded by the most creative work in our industry, you can’t help but be inspired. Competing alongside teams from 20+ countries helped us recognize the diverse and innovative work being done around the world and reassured us the industry was moving in the right direction. In short, Cannes reminded me to be excited about the work we do.

#5: Taught me a surprising lesson

In some subconscious way, I entered the Young Lions competition to validate my career or inflate my ego or some combination of the two. After winning, I was surprised the experience had the opposite effect: it showed me how much I have left to learn! This competition exposes you to cultures, campaigns and ideas from different countries, agencies and marketing disciplines all united around the central ideology of “Creativity with a Purpose” to prove how powerful our industry can be.

Sure, the win stroked my ego. But above all else, it reminded me how fortunate I was to receive these opportunities: to travel to France; to sit in the audience listening to speakers like Will Smith, Usher and Iggy Pop; and to work for Ogilvy, the “teaching hospital of the advertising world” – a company that took a chance on an unemployed, inexperienced kid from the Bronx, taught him he could make something of himself, and sent him halfway around the world to prove it.
The Young Lions Competitions

The Young Lions Competitions are just one way in which young creatives can engage with the Festival. Learn more about the Young Lions competitions and other training programmes in Training and Learning

Young Lions enjoys special discounted pass rates starting at 40% off classic passes. Visit the Pass Picker for more details. 

More stories

Lions Entertainment

Hear diverse perspectives on the direction of the industry, get to grips with the latest trends and see the world's best examples of branded entertainment.

Lions Health

Bringing together professionals from across healthcare and pharma communications, Lions Health seeks to challenge norms and motivate change in these highly innovative yet fiercely regulated industries.

Lions Innovation

Lions Innovation examines how data and technology can act as catalysts and enablers for creativity. It is where start-ups with revolutionary ideas meet major technology providers with game-changing products.

Find your perfect Cannes Lions pass

Whatever you're looking to get out of Cannes Lions, there's a Festival pass just for you. Visit the Pass Picker to find your ideal Cannes Lions Festival experience.