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Cannes_Lion Volvo and Grey Advertising drove off with high honors at the first half of the 62nd Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in France, where themes of female empowerment and practicality ruled. And in a surprise twist, it was Google’s Cardboard technology — with nary an agency attached — that generated the early frisson.

In contrast to the humanist theme of the early winners, it was an elite crowd of top advertising and marketing professionals from around the world that scaled the crimson-lined steps of the Grand Audi at the Palais des Festivals this week starting Monday, when some of the best consumer messaging in the world was acknowledged in four Lions categories: Promo & Activation, Direct, Mobile and Press.

The Volvo teams took top honors in two of the four first-ceremony trophies, and received a third award tonight. On Monday, the Grand Prix in Promo & Activation was bestowed on Grey London (Volvo UK) for “Lifepaint” campaign, which centers on a new paint designed to make cyclists more visible at night. Jury President Matt Eastwood, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of J. Walter Thompson said the effort not only raised the bar creatively, but also made a positive contribution to humanity.

Jury President Matt Eastwood, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of J. Walter Thompson said the effort not only raised the bar creatively, but also made a positive contribution to humanity. “It reinforces a life-long commitment to a strategy of safety and then elegantly turns that to a guiding purpose not just for the cars, but for all of society. It’s a simple, easy to apply solution that will genuinely save lives.”

From a total of 3,196 entries in Promo & Activation this year, Grey and Volvo topped a field of 117 Lions awarded. The selection marks a heightened awareness in pro-social initiative, and marketing that embraces values of responsible corporate citizenship.

The second Volvo/Grey Grand Prix trophy of the night was in the Direct category, via Grey New York for “Interception”. “Smart, strategic, creative and real-time, Volvo zagged and created a new conversation which hijacked The Super Bowl. It pushed and rethought what you can do in direct,” said Jury President, Judy John, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Canada.

“Interception is a deep example of what’s going on. It’s an exciting time in the category and the business.” Announced January 26, the Volvo U.S. “Interception” campaign allowed Super Bowl XLIX game-day viewers to nominate someone worthy of receiving a new Volvo XC60 on the house. At the time, Volo described it as “a socially-driven alternative to game day television advertisements” and said it was “an extension of the company’s human-centric mindset: putting people first in all areas, as evidenced by the design and technology of Volvo cars enjoyed by drivers around the world. In a section with 2,813 entries, 83 Lions were presented.

In the Mobile category Google Mountain View was the jury-pleaser for Cardboard, an inexepensive device designed to create a virtual reality experience usng cell phones that scaled the pinnacle in Mobile. Caredboard was cited not just for its “democratization” of the VR process, but for the abundance of interesting consumer experiences it can potentially spawn, as well as the promise it holds for mobile marketers. Jury President Joanna Monteiro, VP Creative Director, FCB Brazil, said Cardboard made virtual reality far more accessible than its expensive component-centric counterparts. “The jury believed that this is a game-changer since it democratizes VR. Cardboard costs about $20 and will allow brands to engage many more consumers, offering them a different level of experience.” In Mobile, 57 Lions were bestowed in a field of 1,246 entries.

Finally, in Press there were 79 Lions were awarded from 4,470 entries. The victor was The Community/La Communidad Miami campaign themed “Never Stop Riding,” featuring naif illustrations themed around “the chase,” to tout commuter biking in the City of Buenos Aires.

Results from a further five Cannes Lions entry sections were unveiled today, at the week’s second ceremony. The guts-over-glitz theme continued, as a female-empowerment messaging emerged with the addition of eight much-anticipated Glass Lions presented on night two. A Grand Prix to BBDO India, Mumbai’s bold foray for Procter & Gamble’s Whisper, “Touch the Pickle”. Jury President Cindy Gallop, Founder and CEO, IfWeRanTheWorld / MakeLoveNotPorn, said judges came to the decision following lengthy discussion, informed by a strong sense of responsibility for what the category represents.

“Ultimately, we unanimously agreed on work tackling a gender issue that impacts every single woman worldwide; does it in a way that is innovative and disruptive while entertaining and engaging; comes naturally from a brand for whom effecting change in this area is not only its innate social responsibility but of tremendous business benefit, and which has achieved amazing results in one of the most conservative markets in the world.”

And the PR Lions trophy went to MSL Group NY and Leo Burnett Toronto for Procter & Gamble’s groundbreaking Always “#Like A Girl” series. Jury President Lynne Anne Davis, President & Senior Partner Asia Pacific, FleishmanHillard, movingly described discussion amongst the jury that had led to the awarding of their Grand Prix to this intiative, which challenges assumptions about “girls.” “There were two jury members who had showed it to their children, and they will never know ‘like a girl’ to be a put-down,” she said. “This is a campaign that marries a brand promise with brand purpose and commercial pursuit. It’s not just counting the people reached, but reaching the people who count.” She also highlighted that over half of this year’s 79 PR Lion-winners had come from PR specialists, attributing the increase to the creativity gap having “completely closed” between advertising and PR agencies.

Likewise, in Media, 80 Lions were awarded including the Grand Prix to Y&R Team Red, Istanbul for Vodafone, “Vodafone Red Light Application Between Us”. Speaking about the work, Nick Emery, Global CEO, Mindshare, said that it was clever, a good cause and a great media idea. “It embraces the best of both a corporate campaign and the originality of an NGO approach. Technology was at its heart and it also has an adaptable and flexible media approach, personalised to the women of Turkey.” In all, 80 Lions were awarded in the Media category.

Of the 131 Outdoor Lions awarded, TBWA/Media Arts Lab Los Angeles and Apple Cuppertino claimed the Grand Prix for the “World Gallery” integrated campaign touting user-generated content “Shot on iPhone 6.” Jury President Juan Carlos Ortiz, President & CEO of DDB, described the work as as a ground-breaking blend of innovation and simplicity-of-thought that made the jury’s choice easy. “We didn’t choose the Grand Prix – the Grand Prix chose us,” he said.

The Creative Effectiveness Lions saw the continuation of a winning streak for Volvo, with Forsman & Bodenfors receiving the Grand Prix for Volvo Trucks “Live Test Series” which Jury President Wendy Clark, President Sparkling Brands & Strategic Marketing, Coca-Cola North America, emphatically called “a gift to the industry” that demonstrated the power of creative bravery as a conduit to exceptional effectiveness. “This was unapologetic advertising, proud to communicate its message. Every jury member was jealous of the work.” A further 16 Lions were also awarded.

Earlier in the day delegates heard from Pharrell Williams on unleashing creativity through collaboration; caught a glimpse of the coming AI revolution from visionary pioneer Sir Tim Berners –Lee, explored the creative universe with Professor Brian Cox and got a recipe for purpose-driven innovation from Jamie Oliver. And so, the curtain falls on the diverse and inspiring content trained firmly on the future to comprise the first half of the 2015 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

paula-parisi.jpg Paula Parisi is the Editorial Director and Chief Technology Officer for Brand Innovators. She has authored hundreds of articles on topics of entertainment and technology, as well as the book Titanic and the Making of James Cameron.

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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