Dan in Cannes – Cannes Lions Review




Exploring all the shortlist exhibitions at this year’s Festival of Creativity, innovation emerged as a common theme across categories along with humanity and emotional engagement. Many of the shortlisted entries demonstrated innovation and creativity tightly fused and appeared to promise huge rewards for the creative technologists in attendance.

In fact most left empty handed with nothing shiny for the office reception back home. Maybe they were too innovative, or demonstrated good technology and not enough craft. Maybe the marriage of technology and creativity was not harmonious enough for the jury. The few truly innovative campaigns that did leave with shiny souvenirs were simple ideas, technically created and they won in multiple categories.



These themes continued through the seminar programme where commentators, industry leaders and jury presidents were unanimous in their call for creativity and campaigns that have emotional engagement at their core rather than submissions labouring the numbers of ‘likes, clicks, retweets and hits’.

Many of the seminar sessions discussed storytelling through the power of imagery and how the creative world can be a force for good. Annie Liebovitz talked about photography in relation to her Disney Parks Dream Portraits and Sir Bob Geldof picked up on the theme of humanity when he spoke about the need for Brands to be meaningful to empower and fight for change. Fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood also touched on this as she encouraged delegates to question a financial system and global ethos that panders to the worst instincts of humanity.

Dumb Ways to Die

dumb_ways_to_dieGiven the themes – it was befitting that the most successful campaign in Cannes last week was a piece for Metro Trains in Australia entitled “Dumb ways to Die”. It’s a cute and emotionally engaging PSA message to help prevent young people being stupid around trains. The video picked up five Grand Prix Awards for the team at McCann in Melbourne and became the most successful campaign in the history of the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, helping to cement Australia’s dominance at this year’s awards.

The catchy tune was being hummed by all who left the Palais De Festival, and was also heard in the Gutter Bar. If you are one of the handful of people in the world who have not seen it, check it out here  http://dumbwaystodie.com/ guaranteed you’ll be humming the tune tonight when you’re doing the washing up and again in the shower tomorrow morning.


Ogilvy_BrazilAnother country that stood out this year and delivered work across the themes of emotional engagement, innovation and humanity in droves was Brazil. Ogilvy in particular was smashing it having picked up 155 Lions overall, many of which will be heading back to their Sao Paolo office who also won agency of the year. Their Titanium Lion for  Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches is the most watched video ad in history and is a good example of why the country is fast becoming an online advertising powerhouse.

Ticking the humanitarian boxes were campaigns Deforested Field and  Immortal Fans. Deforested Field by Grey 141 Group for WWF demonstrated the rate of deforestation in the country by gradually changing the colour of a football pitch, from green to brown in real time during a broadcast of a Brazilian National Team match. Immortal Fans, another winner from Ogilvy Brazil, engaged passionate Sport Club Recife supporters and took their loyalty further to create a new kind of fan: The immortal fans. Their hearts, eyes, lungs… could keep cheering for Sport Club Recife even after death if they became an organ donor. A great concept and one that delivered incredible results with over 51,000 organ donor cards registered and organ donation up by 54% in a year.

Innovation Lions

This year saw Lions launch their ‘Innovation’ category, where they do want to see ‘under the hood’ and understand the technology used. The category was set up to reward those who develop innovative and game changing apps, platforms, tools, products, services or revolutionary software [SaaS] to promote a new kind of customer engagement.

InnovationsCinder, a programming platform to allow developers to cross develop with multiple technologies was a worthy Grand Prix winner. But for me the most innovative thing about this new category was the way it was judged. Credit to the festival organisers for allowing attendees to see ‘up their skirt’ and hear presentations from those shortlisted. Le Grand Auditorium was packed with interested creatives, demonstrating a real appetite for Innovation from the creative community.

This new innovative way of judging, critiquing, qualifying and evaluating is the most refreshing thing Lions have done in their 60 year history if you ask me. Open source working is the new cornerstone of the Creative community, so having our work evaluated in a park rather than a walled garden is progressive and relevant. The innovations panel did a good job not awarding Golds or the Grand Prix to campaign work, although they shortlisted a host of them for some unknown reason.

Media Lions

MediaThe UK took home a dozen Media Lions, more than any other nation and doubling last year’s return. Looking through all the entries, surprisingly few submissions were from the Media Agencies themselves. Only 28% of Gold, and 13% of Silver medals in the category were submitted by Media agencies, and their entries made up only 11% of the shortlisted work.

The Media agencies that we work with around the world are both creative and tactical with their media plans allowing us to have and build an audience for our Digital Outdoor projects. Creativity in Media is of the utmost importance to the whole creative industry, although it might just mean that the Media Agencies need to get better at making campaign videos!

In terms of those campaigns shortlisted – live and responsive media were the key themes to have come out of this year’s entries. Some of the best examples delivered this in buckets. In the ‘Best Use of Screens’ category,  Conversations Start Here, the Digital Outdoor campaign we worked on with Gravity Road for Huffington Post won Silver, which is fantastic. The Media jury clearly understood what the Outdoor jury did not, but more on this later!
Dan in Cannes Part 2 – What Happened to Digital Outdoor?