The week before Cannes your inbox lights up, brimming with emails from long-lost clients, agency friends and Cannes comrades asking if you’re going to the Cote d’Azur next week. Half the industry is buzzing in anticipation, the other half are planning their week of World Cup viewing. For me this year, Cannes was a chance to join my fellow founding members of the Digital Future Council as we strategise over the future of our respective creative and media worlds. To catch up with a number of industry partners, clients, agencies and, well, let’s face it… mates. It’s not all work.

The Digital Future Council had a villa a short walk from the Croisette and the founding members had sessions on Monday and Tuesday. Sessions centred on Blockchain technology and how it may affect the creative and media worlds. Much more to come on this (watch this space). The event was well attended and prompted a lively debate about technology and the future. I spoke with people from varying industries all tasked with understanding new tech roles for their business. It is clear the tech players are beginning to own Cannes. Facebook, Snap, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, Spotify all have prominent spots along La Croisette beachfront. Plenty more had their yachts moored up for intimate chats with the right person. But it’s clear the ad tech world is viewing Cannes with big cow eyes. Rubicon, Trade Desk and MediaMath booked out some nice spaces to party into the night, while the Media Agencies take their usual spots at large hotels. It definitely feels like the tech players and publishers are splashing the cash to get in on the action.

Despite Lion’s creative heritage and emphasis on being creative, this year’s festival was dominated by technology. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and printing technology, and how these technological advancements are about to change the face of the creative and media worlds. With well publicised decreased agency presence, the void was filled by digital firms shouting about their tech-based offerings. As well as entertaining the creative community nightly with live music, beaches and of course cocktails, Minuty and Lager beer on tap (they know us so well.) So much entertainment was on offer that chats at each beach party invariably moved quickly on to ’where we going next?’ or ’did you see The Killers last night?’ or ’are you going to watch Duran Duran later?’ (incidentally overheard on the Croisette from a young Lion ’I think my mum saw Duran Duran once’ – man I feel old.)

So are the awards a sideshow to all of this? I don’t think so. The two mutually exist. While there were several peers I spoke to that by Thursday hadn’t even picked up their delegate pass, there were quite a few discussions about shortlists and awards from that night or the next. I was really pleased to see the hard work I put in with the Cannes Lions Outdoor team come to life on the awards side of things. For too long I’ve written about how the categorisation of Outdoor has almost excluded Digital. It’s now fully integrated into the Outdoor category, though judging by the shortlists and entries it’ll take a few years to bed in on both agency and judging sides. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very worthy winners, but there were also again some technically suspect entries with poor categorisations.

In amongst everything were some real flashes of brilliance, and a real stand out I thought, was McCann London’s, XBOX Dynamic Campaign Outdoor win. A very smart and dynamic way to promote a product they were not allowed to talk about. Outside of that, it was great to see our partner Adam and Eve do well at Lions, especially for the great Project 84 campaign, but also in reclaiming the coveted agency of the year award.

Tech tech tech. This platform. The whole thing is pointless without effective creative, storytelling and crafting. So the question is: With all this technology, from sponsors, platforms, publishers, media owners, tech providers and future thinkers are we ruining the ’festival of creativity’?

I cannot see it changing anytime soon. Creative and Media are a huge business. And Tech knows it. Tech is rich. Tech is powerful. Tech can woo your client on the yacht while you’re watching The Killers.

We are stood at the very beginning of a transformation of the media and creative worlds in terms of digitisation and technologification. Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence are set to change the way we buy, distribute and attribute campaign work at scale. Smarter integrated campaigns, with better results for clients. Transparent in their process through the implementation of blockchain technology throughout the entire campaign. There is still a race to be the first. I feel there should be more pressure on collectively being ’the best’ as industries, working collaboratively to build a brighter technological future so that smarter creative can make the whole thing work.

Daniel Dawson, CCTO Grand Visual

Twitter #CannesCan DOOH
By Dan Dawson, first published on ExchangeWire on 27th Feb 2018

Some great news to report following my annual rant about the state of the Cannes Lions Outdoor Awards and, more specifically, their ‘Digital Outdoor’ category. It turns out that this time the festival organisers were listening. Days later I was asked to discuss my views directly with their team and shortly after this I was invited to join their Outdoor Lions taskforce with the aim of helping to reform the category.

Having provided creative services for digital OOH for over 15 years, I was passionate to see the world’s biggest advertising festival get up to speed on this fast-growth medium and its burgeoning creative potential, something that was not captured or truly reflected by their current awards programme. One major bone of contention for me was the prevailing structure of Outdoor Cannes Lions and the overriding preference given to traditional Outdoor formats.

Considering that digital is revolutionising the OOH marketplace, and is set to top 50% of total outdoor media spend in the UK this year, with many more markets closely following suit, it struck me as odd that the medium remained in the shadows of traditional outdoor at an event which prized itself in recognising latest trends, originality, and creative innovation. Despite the prevailing trend towards digitisation, digital outdoor remained a subcategory to the main event, which was traditional outdoor.

But I am happy to say that the taskforce proved to be hugely progressive. Open, honest, and insightful discussions were had, and changes were implemented. Advertisers and media agencies don’t see Digital Outdoor as a separate entity to Outdoor – it’s all on the same Media Plan. Plus, to the millennials working in creative agencies the world over, it’s just all Outdoor, and of course it’s digital, connected, dynamic, and tactical.

So, it is great to see that the finalised categories for the 2018 Outdoor awards do a much better job of representing the overall medium, and digital as being a big part of that. Now you can enter EITHER traditional or digital versions of your campaign across most of the Outdoor categories. A huge result.

Other game changers have been refinements made to the category criteria and definitions for Out of Home spaces and formats, which are now more representative of the medium today. Meanwhile, what was once known as ‘Digital Outdoor’ is now ‘Digital Screens’ – with subcategories that are clearly defined between linear, dynamic, and interactive campaigns – again, far more in tune with the medium today. These changes will help to reflect Digital Outdoor’s true power as a connected, responsive, and scalable medium.

The other big change (which we hope to see come through in the judging), is that ‘Outdoor Innovation’ which replaces ‘Use of Outdoor’, will be the new official home for those one-off specials, PR stunts, and out-of-the-ordinary campaigns that have swamped the regular categories in past years. This has been a bug bear for me, the blatant over representation of special builds and PR launches that have dominated the league tables. Of course, OOH PR stunts have their place, but this is not the ‘bread and butter’ work for a medium that offers up dynamic, tactical, and contextual campaigns with huge reach.

The last remaining challenge, as I see it, is down to the organisers, judges, and jury presidents. It is vital that these changes are upheld by the rigorous policing of submissions to ensure that category criteria are met, and rules are enforced. I can’t stress this point enough. We’ve seen it time and again, since Digital Outdoor was first introduced to the programme back in 2009, campaigns that were shortlisted, and even awarded, were not digital or outdoor in the way that we know it. Organisers will need to tighten up on category rules and ensure that judges are on board with agreed definitions of what Digital Outdoor is.

Whether this new rigour can be carried through the judging process is yet to be seen. But the changes to Outdoor coming into effect this year, along with the Six Lion limit, and the separation of judging charity against brand work, means we could be in for a very different June in the South of France.

So, all things said, 2018 is shaping up to be a good one for digital OOH creativity. Digital OOH, as a whole, is in rude health. The technology stack that media owners, agencies, and specialists have invested so heavily in is amazing. Brands and their agencies are thinking more strategically about the medium than ever before, and now we have a renewed vigour coming from the world’s biggest festival of creativity which will hopefully see this new body of work coming through. 2018 is going to be one hell of a ride. Who knows, maybe next year the Cannes Lions Officialdom will rename the programme ‘OOH Lions’ then my work here will be done!

Another year of sunshine, creativity and rosé at the biggest advertising festival on earth. Let’s just start by saying I love Cannes. As well as the obligatory networking, I like to use it to do some research, to stand back and take stock of the amazing work taking place the world over.

It is always with great anticipation that I sit down with my café au lait to review the shortlist in what I guess would traditionally be our ‘home’ category – E03 ‘Use of Digital Outdoor’. It’s a category rich in creative and technical innovation, delivered on one of the fastest growing mediums in the world. A medium that has spent billions of dollars reinventing itself from a traditional media offering to a digital one that now demands its own sub category at Cannes.

So there was I, sipping my [now cold] morning coffee, pouring over the shortlisted entrants in Outdoor Lions, watching the campaign films and trying to savour the moment. And then it hit me. The disappointment. The furrowed brow.

It’s not just because our Google Programmatic and Child Rescue Alert campaigns didn’t make the cut. There were a number of campaigns using data as the catalyst for storytelling. McDonald’s use of real-time snowfall data synchronised to the ratio of cream which targeted skiers in Canada, Bond’s billboard The Boys which adapted to temperature cues in a humorous campaign for the underwear brand. However, each of these campaigns was a special build, adapted billboard or a one-off stunt in one location – all great ideas, but nothing that ran on existing infrastructure at scale.

And then there was Toyota’s Land Cruiser Emergency Network. I’m not suggesting it’s not a good concept, for a worthwhile cause, but best ‘Use of Digital Outdoor’ it surely is not. It is disappointing that a campaign can be entered into a category that it does not meet the submission criteria for, but even more disappointing when the judges fail to recognise the same criteria and go on to shortlist such work. Digital Outdoor has in fact been a category plagued by campaigns that do not fit category criteria since its introduction in 2009. Organisers will need to tighten up on category rules and ensure that judges are on board with agreed definitions of what Digital Outdoor is going forward.

That aside, the rest of the shortlisted work was of a very high standard with some interesting use of technology including voice activation for ESPN, contactless payments for the Melanoma Institute, and thermal-imaging for GlaxoSmithKline’s Theraflu in Poland. Bronzes for Saatchis Poland and Forsman and Bodenfors Gothenburg were worthy winners as was Clemenger BBDO Melbourne taking home a silver lion for its weather activated giant digital billboard. Each campaign demonstrated good use of technology and creativity working in synergy in the DOOH space to provide useful and contextualised information that is tailored to the audience mindset.

Also under Outdoor Lions are categories for all digital ‘out-of-home’ work including all digital screens and ambient use of digital. My favourite winner here was in C03 – from Jung von Matt, The Great Escape – which also took home awards for best use of screens at Media Lions. The execution is an entertaining and rewarding interaction with a live billboard that both surprised and delighted passers-by.

Overall, the UK had a fairly poor showing in the ‘Screens, Digital Billboards or Digital Outdoor’ categories across Media, Outdoor and Cyber Lions this year. This seems odd given our status in the market as an innovator and is not reflective of the rich work that has been done here in the UK in the last 12 months.

So as I consider the state of the DOOH space creatively it seems that the problem is not with the creative that’s being delivered to DOOH – the last 12 months has seen some excellent work globally. I think the problem is that it’s either not been submitted to Lions, or it’s being wrongly judged against submissions that are not meeting category criteria correctly. The awarding body’s understanding and consensus of what ‘digital outdoor’ is, needs to be fleshed out and better understood for 2017.

Twitter #CannesCan DOOH

Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, where all the big names from the advertising world congregate to debate, drink and mingle, is the setting for a new public service from Grand Visual and Clear Channel. #CannesScan, a Twitter enabled DOOH campaign, summarises the mood, chit-chat and hangovers on the Croisette. All in the world’s first truly global language – emojis.

18th-25th June, Cannes, France: #CannesScan, is a live Twitter poll of the emojis being used in reference to all things #CannesLions during the world’s most important advertising event. The trending emoji will be published regularly through each day on Le Grand Screen, a giant 16-metre-long digital billboard above The Grand Hotel.

Attending Cannes Lions is such a tough gig. Festival attendees may be too busy, too tired, too hungover or too “refreshed” to get to grips with all the latest gossip. #CannesScan will keep them “in the know” throughout the day and night with just a glance up at the digital billboard. From the Gutter Bar to the Palais and even from the yachts in the bay #CannesScan is a vital utility for the hard-working and hard-partying festival folk.

The creative brings the emoji centre stage, in a simple execution that flicks through a range of symbols and expressions, before landing on the most popular emoji of the moment. The featured emoji is a bold visual summary of how Cannes is feeling. The simple public service, demonstrates the strength of digital OOH to amplify social conversations on a grand scale using the largest, most prominent screen in Cannes.

#CannesScan is coordinated through OpenLoop, the Digital OOH campaign management dashboard, which analyses #cannes themed twitter streams and publishes the outcome on the unique Le Grand Screen, towering 12 stories high, and clearly visible across the bay, day and night. A network of D6 screens on the ground also feature the real-time emoji poll.

Ric Albert, Digital Director at Grand Visual, said:

“When you are feeling jaded, and potentially a little inebriated, an emoji will do. Visual analytics are easier to read than the written word, and the minimalist simplicity of this execution is its strength. So you can forget scouring social channels, press releases and news articles – simply look up at #CannesScan, to get the true, uncut, public view on the street. Find out if it’s happy hour cocktails, or if there are too many Lion losers bringing down the mood in the bars, with one simple emoji”.

Chris Pelekanou, Commercial Director at Clear Channel UK, commented:

“#CannesScan is here to help the Cannes crowd garner the mood on the street. It’s on-trend and particularly relevant to the advertising community given the success of Domino’s emoji campaign here last year, which took home the Cannes Titanium Grand Prix. It demonstrates the huge potential of combining OOH with social media platforms for connecting with people on their own terms, in a way that is relevant, accessible and potentially humorous.”

Post Lions #CannesScan Summary:

Mornings in Cannes were positive, with all emoji’s showing people looking forward to the day ahead, from sunshine, smiley faces & peace signs, mornings were a surprisingly positive place in Cannes, and emoji’s were a far cry from the sore heads and hangovers expected.

Throughout the week the mood at midday was the most varied. Quite likely due the fact that every day was different, from networking, sunbathing, or listening to an inspiring talk. The varied emoji use shows the variety of the week.

Whilst there was variety during the day, when evening came, one thing was clear, people only had one thing on their minds – Cannes Lions awards. The top emoji’s of the evening was Trophy, stars, hands clapping. Whilst some may say Cannes is just about the Rose and beach parties,  #CannesScan shows people are happy to celebrate great work.

It was a cause for celebration back in 2009 when Cannes Lions gave the Digital Outdoor medium its very own award category. As the fastest growing sector in Outdoor for several years running and with global revenues now topping $7.88 billion in 2012 – we were all looking forward to seeing some great examples of creative excellence at this years festival.

Instead, what we got was an un-awarded category and the sense that the most innovative side of the Outdoor market had been all but forgotten.

Digital Outdoor received 87 entries at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Of these 9 entries were shortlisted and none were awarded. Given the significant improvements to the technology, ad serving infrastructure and the growing sector expertise and understanding of how to use the platform creatively this seemed surprising.

The category rules as defined by Cannes Lions for Digital Outdoor:

Including digital escalator panels, LCD screens, cross-track projection sites, digital roadside billboards, bluetooth enabled screens and interactive posters including consumer generated content

Entries into Digital Outdoor MUST have been designed specifically for use in digital outdoor sites; for example any video submitted must have been designed and created for use in digital outdoor sites rather than TV or cinema ads simply played in an ‘Out of Home’ situation.

Odd then that the shortlisted campaigns consisted of two mobile / tablet campaigns (Volvo, Columbia), five special build stunts (Guinness, BMW, Asics, HSBC, VEnergy) and one ambient (Heineken) submission.

In fact, of the nine shortlisted campaigns just ONE met the category criteria for Digital Outdoor – using an established Digital Outdoor platform, Media Owner owned, Media Agency planned, and Outdoor Specialist bought – and that was DLKW Lowe’s campaign for The Microloan Foundation.

The other eight may have been ‘digital’ and performed ‘outdoor’, but they were not Digital Outdoor as we know it, or as the Outdoor industry knows it, or as Cannes Lions define it in their category rules. Yet these campaigns would have been perfectly suited to the Outdoor Ambient categories: C03 “Special Build” and C04 “Stunts and Live Advertising”.

Every other category in Outdoor had submissions that were ‘Outdoor’ executions in the traditional well defined sense. Every other Outdoor category also turned out at least one Bronze from the shortlisted work.

Looking through all of the 87 original entries there were plenty there that met the rules and requirements, but were simply not shortlisted. So in some ways it is not surprising that the judges failed to award a Lion in Digital Outdoor (C06) – there was only one Digital Outdoor campaign to choose from.

This raises a number of serious questions about the Digital Outdoor category and the judging procedure:

Digital Outdoor offers the ability to run dynamic, responsive, interactive, geo-targeted and personalised campaigns that are closely integrated with online, social, and mobile communication. As budgets have increased, so too has the number of truly groundbreaking campaigns that are being delivered across the medium.

But the feeling from this year’s event is that the Digital Outdoor sector and its criteria were not understood or adhered to and that good creative use went unrecognised. For a medium that now commands almost 20% of Outdoor revenue in the UK, it seemed that it did not command a proportional amount of consideration at this years leading award programme. Creative’s who invested time and budget into their Cannes submissions this year will now be wondering as to whether it is worth doing so again in 2014. Whatever happened, it was a disappointing day for Digital Outdoor.

Now in its third year, CannesAlso sets out to explore the interests of creative people outside of their day jobs. The brainchild of Brand Union and Lambie-Nairn, CannesAlso aims to showcase collections – from the carefully curated to the downright bizarre. Whether a practised phillumenist or novice collector, delegates can explore the art of collecting at this unique event.

This year Grand Visual is on board to facilitate real-time digital collections, contributed via Twitter and Instagram. Creative types can upload and share their own collection of doodles or collectables via Instagram and Twitter. These images then get pulled into OpenLoop where they are streamed live to screens at the event to help celebrate the curiosity that drives the creative industry!

The ‘Curious Minds Create Brilliant Brands’ exhibition will run from 16th to 22nd June 2013 and is located on the Parvis, just outside the Palais.