Canada wins four Golds, a Silver and a Bronze at Cannes

Strong work in Design and Cyber from Cossette, Sid Lee Architecture and BBDO garners Canada some Gold hardware.
Sid Lee for Bota Bota

By Jonathan Paul and Emily Wexler

Cossette, Sid Lee Architecture and BBDO all struck Gold at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity today, as the winners for the Design, Cyber and Press categories were announced.

Canada took home a big haul of Design Lions today, earning three Golds and one Bronze out of 86 awards handed out (including 31 Gold).

Cossette in Montreal nabbed two of those Golds – one for Theatre du Nouveau Monde’s benefit dinner, for which it turned the menu into a series of striking Russian-themed fluorescent posters that attendees could keep.

“If I have a message to give Canadians, I would say let’s [enter] more posters because I know we do a lot of good posters in Quebec,” says Canadian judge, Sid Lee CD and partner Helene Godin, who noted that the poster category seemed weak compared to the work she’s seen come out of Canada.

Cossette’s other Gold was for non-profit Enablis’s annual report “I am One Thousand,” which used various types of paper and different graphic styles to show today’s Africa in a positive light.

Cossette also picked up a Bronze for its work for Fiocca Studio – a photography studio that repositioned itself as an “artisan’s guild” through a shield logo inspired by the traditional guilds of Italy and oversized posters with rich food photographs sent out as promotional materials.

Godin was particularly proud of Sid Lee Architecture’s Gold win for Bota Bota – a floating spa built on an old ferry in Montreal. US judge Conor Brady of Organic noted that modern agencies are shifting towards being even more multi-disciplinary – which Sid Lee is known for, with its architecture and design focus.

The Grand Prix went to the Cosmopolitan Hotel digital experience in Las Vegas, created by Digital Kitchen in Chicago. The hotel stood out, even among the glitz of Vegas, for its digital design, based around columns of screens with images that could change based on an event or even a mood the hotel wants to evoke.

“The jury all agreed that design should be in the heart of thinking about an experience,” says Godin. “They built the hotel by incorporating the big screens everywhere, so the thinking was at the beginning, not at the end. Design thinking should come up early in the development of the product, and this was a very good example of that.”


Canada also walked away with a Gold Lion in the Cyber category. The winning work was a “touching” online video featuring a cat and its look-alike owner that BBDO created for Skittles.

The online vid, which is housed on YouTube, prompts viewers to interact directly with the screen, placing their finger on an image of a Skittle. Their fingers are then given some TLC (some licking) from both the cat and its owner.

“It was one of my favourite pieces,” says Canadian Cyber juror Christina Brown, VP and CD at Montreal-based CloudRaker. “I thought that it was a really clever way of bringing all the absurdist humour of the brand to life and to really connect the [YouTube] channel in an interactive way, but in an analogue way at the same time.”

Three Grand Prix awards were dished out to three very different executions, which jury president Nick Law, executive VP and CCO, R/GA, said illustrated how diverse the Cyber category has become.

The first Grand Prix went to Chris Milk Santa Monica for an online collaboration between Google and Canadian rock band Arcade Fire called “The Wilderness Downtown” to promote the capabilities of HTML 5. The second winner was Wieden + Kennedy in Portland for the Old Spice Response Campaign in which the Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafah responded to questions posed on Facebook and Twitter. The third Grand Prix winner was R/GA in New York for its “Pay with a tweet” effort for German Concept Creatives Innovative Thunder.

“It was one of the swiftest decisions in the history of juries,” said Law. “What struck the jury was the depth of quality of the work. It was the best I’ve ever seen. There was just good solid innovation that was helping clients’ business.”


With 99 Press Lions handed out, Canada came away with one – a Silver for Leo Burnett (the only Canadian agency to be shortlisted in the category, with five entries) for its ad “Chair” for non-profit Raising the Roof. Based on the idea that homeless youth have potential that most of us don’t consider, the ad shows a discarded chair on the curb outside a house with the copy: “You see an abandoned chair on the street and you think ‘It has the potential to be something beautiful.’ You see a homeless youth on the street and you think ‘Don’t make eye contact.’”

The Press Grand Prix went to JWT Shanghai for a Samsonite ad called “Heaven and Hell.” The intricate fine-art inspired piece depicts the “heaven” of the passenger cabin of an airplane (in the style of marble statues) with the “hell” of the baggage compartment below, where other luggage has deteriorated at the hands of demons and fire, while the Samsonite luggage remains shiny and new.

When asked about the merging of digital and print, jury president Tony Granger of Y&R global said that while they saw some examples of tech being used (such as QR codes), the merging of digital and print has yet to truly take effect, although he expects that touch-screen technology will soon transform print ads.