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Canada won one Silver and seven Bronze Lions at Cannes Lions’ opening awards show Monday night. The trophies were handed out in three traditional advertising categories—Outdoor, Design and Print & Publishing—as well as in the two Health Lions categories, Health & Wellness, and Pharma.
The strongest Canadian performance came in Design, with one Silver and three Bronze Lions, followed by two in Health & Wellness and one each in Outdoor and Pharma. Canada was shut out in Print & Publishing.
Lg2 won a silver Lion for its “You Inside You” non-profit campaign for the “You Inside You Project,” created for Gender Creative Kids Canada.
A partnership with Montreal’s Roméo & Fils, SHED and Circonflex, as well as Los Angeles-based design and fabrication studio Pretty in Plastic, the project featured a series of plastic nesting dolls, each representing a possible stage a young person might go through as they work through their gender identity.
The Canadian Bronze Design Lions went to Sid Lee’s “The Impactful Reminder” for the City of Montreal, which showed the dangers of texting and driving (see video below); Rethink’s “Pass the Bill” for Leaf Forward, and Leo Burnett’s “TD Poster Bank.”
Canadian judge and Leo Burnett executive creative director Lisa Greenberg said she was surprised more Canadian work didn’t make it through to the final round of judging. “So much brilliant Canadian work, that won at other international shows didn’t make it to the shortlist.”
“Coming into the show, I was eager to see work that is going to make a positive impact in the world,” said Design Jury president Richard Ting, R/GA’s global chief experience officer and U.S. chief creative officer.
That was a theme throughout much of the work. “We saw a lot of work that was around accessibility and advocating for accessibility rights. There was a lot of work around gun violence, women’s rights,” he said.
The Grand Prix went to Google Creative Lab for “Creatability”—a set of experiments to make creative tools more accessible to everyone using AI on the web. See an explainer video here.
“One main reason why we felt that that project deserved it was because it was creating a platform that was scalable to everyone within the accessibility community,” said Ting. Cannes Lions is about celebrating creativity, but not everyone can use the the tools that the creative community takes for granted. “You have Google stepping forward and rethinking how the tools that exist are being designed for people that are shut out of the process.”
Rather than having to use a mouse or a stylus, Google was looking at ways to create using gestures and body movements. “So just imagine that in the future where you just use your voice, and the vibrancy of the colour of the screen is reacting to your voice.” The jury also liked that Creatability is open sourced. “They want the world to participate in this,” said Ting.
“We have a whole world of creativity yet to be imagined—this tool is a start,” said Greenberg. “Imagine making music by moving and being able to see sound. It opened my mind.”
Of the five Canadian entries shortlisted in Outdoor, Rethink’s Pride Shield was the lone trophy winner. “It is a beautifully executed idea, we all really enjoyed it,” said Cossette’s Carlos Moreno, who served on the outdoor jury. “It was really simple, really beautiful and making a big statement.”
The jury was looking for work that was simple and well executed, it had to be perfect for the brand and be contextually relevant to the space it ran, said John Patroulis, worldwide chief creative officer for Grey.
But there was also an overarching goal of recognizing work that fits into public space, and adds to the public experience of the space, he said. “We felt the need to be recognizing and rewarding work that’s contributing somehow. And sometimes that can be in big, wonderful, emotional human ways. Sometimes it was through entertainment or utility, but it had to come through. You can’t detract.”
The Grand Prix went to Nike and Wieden + Kennedy for “Nike Dream Crazy: Colin Kaepernick.”
The outdoor category has changed a great deal and brands have many more options thanks to digital, technology and immersive experiences, said Patoulis. But Nike’s very traditional billboard emerged as a clear Grand Prix favourite and the jury discussion was about what else could be considered.
“It actually was elevated above almost everything,” he said. “A single image—one of the most iconic images in advertising for the last several years. There’s very little writing… but the impact it had on the world… it was just hard to talk about anything else having that kind of impact in an outdoor piece.”
“it’s classic outdoor,” said Moreno. “Powerful idea, powerful writing and a powerful image… The argument wasn’t about whether the more immersive types of work wasn’t good. It was that this was just such a moment in time, and in history in terms of advertising, no matter how good the other stuff was, it was never going to have the impact that piece had.”
Print and Publishing
For a long time, journalism and advertising were like “cats and dogs,” said Print & Publishing jury president Olivier Altmann, CEO and chief creative officer for Altmann + Pacreau. Journalists feel like advertising can sometimes force them to “compromise the integrity of the journalism” for business gains. “In fact, we saw a lot of good work about how creativity can really help freedom of the press.”
The Grand Prix was in the vein of using creativity to help communicate the importance of print media and print journalism. “The Blank Edition” by Impact BBDO Dubai for Lebanon’s An-Nahar newspaper. To make a statement about government inactivity, An-Nahar printed a totally blank edition of its newspaper.
“Creativity can do a lot for the print media itself, for print journalism,” he said. “And we thought it was really bold to award a Grand Prix for a white piece of paper
“At the moment, where politicians all around the world, in Europe and elsewhere are maybe not doing their job properly for the people, it was a great example of how ideas can really change the world.”