Cannes 2016: Canada wins a Media Bronze
Canadians picked up Lions in Creative Data, Cyber and Media, but didn't make the cut for Innovation or Mobile.
By Josh Kolm and Harmeet Singh
Cannes was all about tech and innovation on Wednesday, and while there’s some improvement required before Canadian agencies and brands meet the standard currently being set globally, five Lions were awarded to work that managed to break through.
A sweet win in Media
BBDO Toronto and MediaCom Toronto earned a Bronze Lion in the Media category for the “Skittles Holiday Pawn Shop.” That post-Christmas campaign allowed Canadians to swap their unwanted presents for the candy, both online and at a physical pop-up location in Toronto.
Nick Waters, CEO for Denstu Aegis Network in Asia Pacific and president of the Media jury, says that what made Skittles stand out was the brand acting in character and the behaviour that the work triggered. In other words, it allowed for a direct engagement with consumers.
As for the Grand Prix in Media, the “McWhopper” campaign for Burger King from Y&R New Zealand Auckland picked up its second of the festival (the first was in Print & Publishing). The campaign challenged rival QSR McDonald’s to come together with Burger King to merge their two most well-known burgers in honour of the International Day of Peace.
From a media perspective, the campaign thrived online, with ideas for joint packaging, staff uniforms and a pop-up restaurant all being shared with consumers across the globe. Social media users (and burger lovers) worldwide shared their own DIY “McWhoppers” as well.
The campaign’s nimbleness to react on the fly (such as to McDonald’s reaction and public sentiment) to build momentum made it stand out, Waters says.
Canada breaks into Creative Data
Canada picked up its first-ever award in the second year of the Creative Data Lion, with Touché! and Sid Lee winning Bronze for its “The Colder It Gets” billboards for Mark’s.
The Grand Prix in Creative Data also went to JWT Amsterdam’s “The Next Rembrandt.” Jury president Tash Whitmey, also group CEO of Havas Helia, said her jury selected it for the first Creative Data Grand Prix (no Grand Prix was awarded last year) because it made a statement about the kinds of things the category could stand for going forward.
“We were looking for work that would be inspiring to other people, that delivered simplicity out of complex data, and where data and creative are intrinsically linked,” she said.
Cyber breaks away from its past
Canadian agencies had a respectable showing in Cyber, one of the festival’s most hotly-contested categories.
Chief among the winners was Jam3, which, along with the internal team at MTV in the U.S., picked up a Gold and Silver in the Co-Creation/User-Generated Content and Media & Publications sub-categories, respectively, for the “Green Screen” campaign promoting the 2015 VMAs. The campaign gave fans the ability to create user-generated content that was used in the broader integrated campaign for the music awards show.
“It was one of the best uses of social and user-generated content,” says Brent Choi, CCO at J. Walter Thompson New York and Canada, and member of the Cyber jury. “It was brave enough to give people control over green screen stuff and not directly promote the show. It knew its audience, it fit the brand. And then to use it in a way that went offline to online and back offline, it made it not just about great banners or out of home, it used the flow back and forth between those.”
Leo Burnett Toronto’s “Printed by Somerset” campaign, meanwhile, picked up its second Lion of the festival, winning Bronze for the website it created for Somerset Graphics. Also picking up a Bronze was CAA Marketing’s “Out There” campaign for Canada Goose, which had already picked up Design Gold last night.
Choi says what held Canadian work back is that many agencies seemed to be “competing in what Cyber used to be” and submitting online videos, websites and banner ads in a year when the jury was awarding things like spacial technology, VR and hacking social networks.
“The highest-scored banner ad was Canadian, and it was great, but this jury isn’t going to give a Lion to any banner ad unless it completely blows our minds,” he says. “There were also 400 entrants to online video and they were all really good, so if you want to win, don’t enter something in Online Video unless it’s ‘#LikeAGirl.’ [Zulu Alpha Kilo's] ‘Say No To Spec’ had good insight and was funny, ‘Lily and the Snowman’ was incredibly well crafted, so they both made the list, but to win online video, you have to be ‘#LikeAGirl’ or ‘#ShareTheLoad.‘”
Choi points to work like Rethink’s “Uber Safe,” which won Bronze in Cyber last year as the kind of thing Canadian agencies can do more of to do better in the category, where the story stops being about tech itself and becomes about the connections it enables between people.
The Cyber jury awarded two campaigns the Grand Prix, with jury president Chloe Gottlieb, SVP and ECD at R/GA, saying they represented two very different but very important sides of what made a good Cyber entry.
The first was “Justino,” created by Leo Burnett Madrid for Spain’s Christmas Lottery. The heartwarming video showed a night shift security guard at a mannequin factory arranging the dummies to surprise and brighten the days of co-workers he never gets to see when they show up the next day, only for them to repay his kindness. “Justino” was also given his own social accounts, which shared photos of him as he arranged the dummies during a shift. Besides being a beautiful, “Pixar-worthy” animation, Gottlieb says, it was a story “born out of digital” instead of being an adapted TV spot, and used online platforms to extend the story even further.
“Every piece of the story was perfectly crafted and created for its channel, it wasn’t just repurposed and tossed on there,” she says. “The storytelling is not happening in a single way. People have such literacy and ability to play with different tools, and this story becomes dimensionalized and grows as people interact with it.”
The second Grand Prix went to “The Next Rembrandt” by J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam for ING. A deep learning algorithm was used to analyze every painting the iconic painter ever made, and used that knowledge to make a new portrait he would make if were alive today with a 3D printer that mimicked Rembrandt’s brush strokes (another thing the AI analyzed).
“We loved that this was a cause where data was not an output of the creativity, it is the source of the creativity,” Gottlieb says. “It also speaks to the seamless, blurring of the lines of what is cyber and what is real.”
Shut out of Innovation and Mobile
In the Innovation category (where Canada didn’t make the shortlist), the Grand Prix went to a scarily human campaign. Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo program took the top prize in the category (which was judged through the shortlisted entries presenting the ideas live to the jury).
Unlike chess, the game of Go has many, many more possibilities for strategic moves on the board and also relies heavily on the inherently human trait of intuition. Still, Google’s artificial intelligence program was able to beat the world’s best players in the game, proving we’re not too far away from AI being able to solve even bigger challenges.
Emad Tahtouh, jury president and director of applied technology at Australia’s Finch, notes that it takes at least three years for a new Cannes category to mature and Innovation is no exception, with the quality of entries higher and the presentations this year much more polished than previous years.
Canada also didn’t make the shortlist in the Mobile category, where the Grand Prix went to the “NYT VR” campaign for The New York Times, led by T Brand Studio New York. As part of the campaign, the newspaper delivered Google Cardboard headsets to its print subscribers, to pair with its virtual reality app.
Cheil Worldwide global COO and jury president Malcolm Poynton says that campaign’s power lies in being able to catapult a 165-year-old, “inherently analog” brand into digital and set it apart in a particularly challenging industry.