Cannes Lions 2019 – The Winners and the Changemakers.

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a five-day festival recognising effective creative marketing communications – think Cannes Film Festival, but for those working in creative communications, advertising, and related fields.

This year, the prestigious and highly coveted Cannes Lion awards went to winners who made bold moves and created ripples in society, advocating sharing and standing up for what is right. And don’t we love that over in our little branding agency in Singapore?

Winners also created campaigns based on the following:

  • Social consciousness
  • Forming an emotional connection with consumers through the use of human faces in campaigns
  • Creating a more inclusive world for all
  • Disrupting business models
  • Social Consciousness

“Sharing is activism…. It is an act of protest….”

– Madonna Badger, founder of Badger & Winters 

From a music video tackling racism (Bluesman by Baco Exu Do), chilling art installations shedding light on the effects of immigration policies (#nokidsincages by Badgee & Winters) to chocolate bars tackling child slavery in West African cocoa plantations (Tony’s Chocolonely) or product lines transforming furniture into accessible furniture for PWDs (ThisAbles by IKEA and McCann Tel Aviv), communities have been compelled to stop and pay heed to these glaring issues prevalent in societies before sharing, thus inciting conversations.

Let us take a look together to the key campaign elements that made the advertising world click this year!

The Human Touch

“People have an aversion to ads that look like ads.”

– Tim Leake, Senior Vice President and Innovation Officer, RPA

Having a human face (or humanity, in general) to your campaign can help resonate with consumers. It helps when campaigns leverage on cultural flashpoints to form emotional connections with customers as well.

Nike did that with the ‘Dream Crazy’ ad with Wieden+Kennedy, taking a risk by using and sticking with Colin Kaepernick, an American Football athlete who created discourse in America for taking a knee during NFL games to protest police brutality.

The New York Times’ ‘The Truth is Worth It’ campaign with advertising agency Droga5 challenged the President of the US’ claims that the newspaper was spreading fake news. A number of videos were created, showcasing the risks reporters took to bring free press to the masses.

FCB/SIX, together with lifestyle & culture website Black & Abroad flipped the otherwise incendiary words, ‘Go Back to Africa’ on its head and created a campaign to promote 54 countries in Africa as destinations.

Sonic Branding and the Beauty in Imperfection

How else can brands connect with their customers? Take note from Mastercard, who had leveraged on sonic branding to add depth to their brand identity. They even created multiple musical genres across different countries to localise the melody they had created.

Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park) talks about Mastercard’s new sonic branding

What is Sonic Branding?
It surrounds us every day: you hear it in McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ jingle, the 4-notes that make up the Intel Inside sound and even this one tone that should be very familiar to Apple Mac users. Think of sonic branding as a company’s audio logo – consumers will still recognise the brand even if they do not see the physical logo.

The Reign of Authenticity

Brands also have to keep in mind the ever evolving generational mindsets – Generation Z tends to focus on brands that are more “authentic”, “relatable” and “less polished”.

What does this mean?
Highly polished and commercialised content are no longer performing well – less production value and art direction content (think TikTok videos) are where eyeballs are landing on.

Creating an Inclusive World

‘“Ten years ago we were only talking about the big ideas and today we’re talking about the big ideas that change the world.”

– Marcelo Lenhard, CEO of Hands, Brazil.

The political climate of today is rife with division. However, ad agencies around the world are in agreement in wanting to create an inclusive world as they recognise that it makes business sense and addresses both consumer and societal needs.

Brands that were notoriously masculine are starting to be aware of the rising need to target campaigns not just to men, but to women as well. The Volvo E.V.A Initiative by Volvo and Forsman & Bodenfors highlights the fact that women run a higher risk of fatalities in car accidents because male crash test dummies are the standard for safety checks, thus making cars safer for men. The studies presented have since been shared with other car makers.

Daughters of the Evolution, together with Goodby Silverstein & Partners uses augmented reality to tackle the ommitance of women in U.S. history textbooks. The app created, Lessons in Herstory, allows users to scan a portrait of a man in the textbook and unlock information about an important female historical figure from the same period.

Challenging misogyny is – surprisingly – porn magazine, The Weekend (not to be mistaken for the Canadian singer). When it was up for sale in 2018, leading Polish news portal Gazeta.PL bought the magazine, only to promote women’s equality in the last issue and finally shutting it down.

Illustrating unconscious bias-ness is Procter & Gamble’s ‘The Look’ where it raises awareness on the struggles black men face in society no matter their social status. The thought inducing film is also accompanied by a digital experience by design company North Kingdom.

Disrupting Business Models

“The definition of a brand has changed. A brand is now owned by the community, it is owned by the consumer. They demand brands on their terms.”

– Matt Hofherr, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, M/H VCCP.

Data and technology are coming together to create new markets in a bid for brands to stay relevant to consumers. Passion points are also targeted, thus creating massive relevance to communities as well.

HBO – a cable network known for their massive budget tv-shows – teamed up with Amazon’s Alexa to create ‘The Maze’ to promote their show Westworld. Using hours of recorded audio from actors, The Maze got more than 10,000 fans to use their imaginations and ears in order to solve the game. It’s Choose Your Own Adventure in audio form.

Disrupting the travel experience is luggage brand, Away. With most brands focusing on the features and functions of luggage, Away turns it around and focuses on the reason why someone would buy luggage – travel. When they realised that their product was not going to be ready by the holidays, they published a book about travel with a certificate to buy the luggage once it was available. The book featured artists, writers, and photographers on their favourite destinations. One can say that the book incited the feeling of FOMO (that’s ‘Fear of Missing Out’ in Generation Z speak).

Advertising is now ever-changing.

In order to keep up with the rapid changes that are making advertising difficult to define, the advertising industry needs to evolve as well.

Back then, there was a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to creating campaigns. Nowadays, brands and agencies have to apply these four points:

1. Talent Renovation

The advertising industry needs to build strategies that source and include diverse talent. Yes – the industry needs to take on professional and educational systems that is currently preventing underrepresented communities from progressing. Only by looking beyond traditional means of getting your foot in the door can we start finding ways to increase the talent pool.

2. Evolving ways of working

Agencies are now developing new ways to constructing great work. Some places have processes that delivers a multitude of ideas in three days, others by opening up methods to drive innovative work from a twosome to a sixsome. Lime Agency itself has the Juicer where, for one week, clients get the focus of a dedicated team to work on their concept.

3. Creative Technology

Not only does the industry need to constantly evolve in terms of creativity, it should also wholeheartedly embrace creativity through technological means. This is to help reinvent experiences, both for the industry and users. Example? Dali Lives by The Dali Museum. Visitors to the museum can interact with an AI version of the famed artist (they can even take a selfie with him!).

4. Embracing new partnership models

Creativity is evolving, which means that some companies might have to embrace partnerships in order to be ahead of the curve. Some Chief Marketing Officers are starting to think that this is the model that can solve end-to-end client needs.

In-housing is also another aspect where companies are expected to look into. The Association of National Advertisers released findings that indicated an increase of brand marketers who have some form of in-house agency operations. This might probably be sign of dissatisfaction of services done and brands’ desire for cheaper, quicker and better work.

Ultimately, it’s all a work in progress.

By working together with partners in strategy, technology and data, creatives can redefine the creative process. Only through collaboration can new ideas be cultivated and formed. Witnessing the shift to a focus more on sustainability and social change at major advertising awards, we are happy to see how brands are now asking themselves how they can bring positive impact to the consumers who buy their products/services. But it is important to not do this in vain – in the hopes of simply winning a prize.

We want to challenge brands, small or big, to really place their mission to creating positive impact on people and the environment at the heart of what they do, in their very business values and strategy, not just simply in a summer campaign. Let us all work together to bring forward positivity in our areas of expertise!