Our Man in Cannes: CEO Neil Morris Reports from Cannes Lions OOH 2011


This is the third year that digital out-of-home has been allowed its own category within the Outdoor Lions. There were 109 entries overall from 31 countries with the UK providing 12 of them (the USA had the most entries at 18). The jury was led by Olivier Altmann (Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Worldwide) and featured Ed Morris (ECD, Rapier) as the UK representative. From the 109 entries, the jury selected 9 submissions for the shortlist – with the UK supplying the greatest number (3) from one market. The other markets were Brazil, Korea, France, China, Argentina and Germany.

The type of creative work entered into the competition was almost exclusively interactive or data-driven in some way. There were examples of touch screen activity, motion sensing, social and mobile interaction and transit destination or timetable integration. There were surprisingly few augmented reality applications particularly if one excludes the AR campaigns on a mobile phone (more on that later).

There were two key themes that became clear across the 109 entries. Projection was a popular medium for delivering an experience or creating a canvas. And secondly, some form of mobile activation was a common ingredient to campaigns.

The UK won three Bronze Lions. Publicis was awarded for its “12-second strip” campaign, which consisted of a challenge to the public to strip from their winter to summer clothes in the amount of time it takes to fold up the roof of the Renault Wind Roadster – 12 secs. OgilvyOne’s Bronze came for its Terminal 5 based “Lotus Knows” campaign for IBM which delivered Wimbledon tennis match updates most relevant to departing flights. The final UK Bronze was for the absolutely wonderful Lynx “Angel Ambush” activity conceived by Mindshare Invention and created by Grand Visual and Mind’s Eye Media.

A Silver was won by Jung von Matt’s “Transparent Walls” for Daimler in which a camera feed of the street around a corner was projected on a wall at the corner allowing drivers to see “through the wall”. The other Silver was awarded to a hysterical campaign from Argentina called “Andes Friend Recovery” and created by Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi for Anheuser-Busch. The execution allowed a user via webcam to project their face onto the face of a “robot” sitting in a bar so that you can be with your mates AND with your girlfriend at home …

On to the winner – this will sound a little like sour grapes. Cheil Worldwide’s “Virtual Store” campaign for Tesco Homeplus walked off with a Gold Lion for its campaign to extend the reach of the grocery chain. It’s clearly a great piece of work which delivered on its objectives but it isn’t what is commonly thought of as digital outdoor. Have a look. It’s good old fashioned, traditional, printed outdoor with QR codes leading to a transactional and fulfilment relationship via the user’s smartphone. A nice demonstration of outdoor’s endless opportunities. But it still isn’t digital outdoor. Perhaps the jury was confused. Perhaps we should rejoice that there is a blurring of the boundaries. Next year I think we’ll enter some digital outdoor activity in the Radio Lions and see where we get to.

It was telling that 9 of the 12 UK entries used permanent digital out-of-home formats for delivering their campaigns. This seemed a much higher percentage than from other markets. As part of Clear Channel’s Young Lions masterclass, Mattias Palm-Jensen (Chief Innovation Officer, McCann Erickson) had stressed the need to move from “stunt” to scalable ideas and campaigns. Perhaps the UK is moving along the right path.

Finally, it was great to see the cream of the UK’s outdoor community networking hard at the Gutter Bar way past their bedtime – that’s dedication!