When it was announced that the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, which celebrates the best advertising projects from around the world, was returning to an in-person event this year after two years off due to Covid, it prompted many questions.
Would it actually go ahead or would Covid return? Would we all feel comfortable being face to face again? And was an event so tied to luxury and excess appropriate in today’s world? This latter point only became stronger as the Ukraine war and the cost of living crisis took over the headlines in the run up to the event.
As it turns out, perhaps somewhat predictably, on arrival in Cannes, these concerns seemed to get swept away by the Cote d’Azur magic, and minds quickly turned to questions about the metaverse and NFTs, how to balance client meetings with the parties that took place along the beach every night, and just how blooming hot it was.
A few events burst the bubble. Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared by video call to remind everyone about the very serious and urgent events taking place in his country; Greenpeace staged a series of protests railing against brands greenwashing; the industry’s lack of diversity continued to be widely discussed and despaired about; and a documentary titled Kill Your Darlings encapsulated creatives’ angst about agency models and where advertising was going.
Despite this though, the rosé flowed, everyone bathed in the glow of the clutch of celebs who popped up to do talks and perform at parties – Paris Hilton on NFTs anyone? – and the very serious troubles of today felt pretty far away.
They resurfaced in the winning work however, which, as seems to be de rigour in ad award shows these days, leant heavily towards the purpose and ‘good-vertising’ end of the creative spectrum. This had a mixed impact – there was plenty of evidence of the skill, ingenuity and design thinking that’s present in the industry today though at times the resulting projects felt somewhat removed from the brands they were supposedly created for.
The winners also gave the impression of an industry that takes itself very seriously. While Ryan Reynolds – who played a dual role as movie star and savvy ad man/client at the festival – called out for advertising to be “fun”, it would seem the jurors didn’t quite get the memo.
Ultimately though, Cannes Lions revealed the vast breadth of ideas and talent in the ad and design industry today. Below I have gathered all the Grand Prix-winning work for you to savour for yourself. Go on, tuck in:
BRAND EXPERIENCE & ACTIVATION LIONS/RADIO & AUDIO LIONS/SOCIAL & INFLUENCER LIONS
The Unfiltered History Tour, Vice Media; Agencies: Dentsu Creative, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Gurgaon
Created by Vice World News, the Unfiltered History Tour offered new perspectives on the artefacts housed by the British Museum in London, narrated by people from the countries they were taken from. It won Grand Prix awards across three categories in total.
CREATIVE STRATEGY LIONS/PR LIONS
The Breakaway: The first ecycling team for prisoners, Decathlon; Agency: BBDO Belgium
This project from Decathlon allows prisoners to go on virtual rides alongside cyclists in the outside world. It won the Grand Prix in both creative strategy and PR.
GLASS: THE LION FOR CHANGE/CREATIVE DATA LIONS
Data Tienda, WeCapital; Agency: DDB Mexico, Mexico City
Data Tienda allows Mexican women build a credit score – vital for bank loans – based on interactions with the local shops that have offered them informal credit for years. The project won the Grand Prix in both the Glass and Creative Data categories.
INDUSTRY CRAFT LIONS/MEDIA LIONS
Hope Reef, Sheba/Mars Petcare; Agency: AMV BBDO, London
Hope Reef is part of a new project that pet food Sheba is embarking on, to help regrow coral reef. This film shows how the regrowth will look in five years’ time, when the word ‘hope’ will be spelt out in new coral. It won Grand Prix in both Industry Craft and Media.
Super. Humans; Channel 4; Agency: 4creative
Escape from the Office, Apple; Agency/Production Company: Apple/Smuggler
Two film Grand Prix gongs were awarded this year, to 4creative’s epic Paralympics trailer and Apple’s hilarious latest from the Underdogs. Directors were Bradford Young and Mark Molloy, respectively.
Long Live The Prince, Kiyan Prince Foundation/EA Sports/QPR/Match Attax; Agency: Engine London
Created to raise awareness of knife crime, this campaign for the Kiyan Prince Foundation sees Prince, a promising QPR youth team footballer who was murdered as a teenager, recreated at the age he would have been now in FIFA and Match Attax.
CREATIVE B2B LIONS
Speaking in Color, Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings; Agency: Wunderman Thompson Minneapolis
Speaking in Color offers those looking for paint colours the opportunity to search via voice. Customers can describe a memory or a feeling and the app will offer up colour solutions.
CREATIVE BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION LIONS
Piñatex, Dole Sunshine Company/Ananas Anam; Agency: L&C, New York
Fruit and veg brand Dole and sustainability startup Ananas Anam won the Grand Prix for Piñatex, a sustainable leather substitute made from the cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves, which has been used in collabs with over 200 brands, including H&M and Nike.
CREATIVE ECOMMERCE LIONS
Thighstop, Wingstop; Agency: Leo Burnett Chicago
When a chicken wing shortage struck in the US, fast food brand Wingstop changed its name and branding to Thighstop for a brief period, to reflect a pivot to selling chicken thighs instead of wings.
CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS LIONS
Contract for Change, Michelob Ultra; Agencies: FCB Chicago/New York
Michelob Ultra’s programme to help farmers in the US switch to organic farming picked up the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix.
Portuguese (Re)Constitution, Penguin Books; Agency: FCB Lisbon
Penguin Books invited writers and artists in Portugal to use blue pencils – a symbol of repression and censorship under Marcello Caetano’s fascist regime – to created poems and drawings over copies of the fascist constitution and reclaim the words as a symbol of freedom.
DIGITAL CRAFT LIONS
Backup Ukraine, Polycam x Unesco; Agency: Virtue Worldwide, New York
Backup Ukraine is an app created for Unesco which allows people to digitally scan architecture and monuments in Ukraine that are under threat of being destroyed in the war.
Less Talk, More Bitcoin, Coinbase; Agency: Accenture Song, New York/Coinbase, San Francisco
Coinbase’s Super Bowl ad, which featured a bouncing QR code, picked up the Direct Grand Prix.
Eat A Swede, Ikea; Agencies: Colony Stockholm/Flx 2.0 Stockholm/MRM Bucharest
This mockumentary for Ikea appears to show Swedes eating lab grown human meat, in order to raise awareness of the impact climate change will have on the global food supply.
ENTERTAINMENT LIONS FOR MUSIC
This Is Not America ft. Ibeyi, Residente; Doomsday Entertainment, Los Angeles/Sony Music Latin, Miami
Residente’s music video, directed by Greg Ohrel, addresses police brutality and greed, and acts as a loose follow up to Childish Gambino’s This Is America video, a former Grand Prix winner at Cannes Lions.
ENTERTAINMENT LIONS FOR SPORT
NikeSync, Nike; Agency: R/GA London
This app for Nike helps women sync their training to their menstrual cycle in order to maximise their energy and fitness.
FILM CRAFT LIONS
The Wish, Penny; Agency: Serviceplan Germany, Munich
Created for German supermarket chain Penny, The Wish was released for Christmas 2021 and reflects on the impact the pandemic had on young people. The director was Marcus Ibanez.
GRAND PRIX FOR GOOD
Save Ralph, Humane Society International; Production Companies: AllDayEveryday/Arch Model Studios/Vespa Pictures
Featuring voiceovers from stars including Taika Waititi, Zac Efron and Ricky Gervais, Save Ralph aims to raise awareness of cosmetic testing on animals.
GRAND PRIX FOR GOOD – HEALTH
Lil Sugar – Master of Disguise, Hip Hop Public Health; Agency: Area 23
This short film uses rap to help educate kids about sugar, and the many forms it can take.
HEALTH & WELLNESS LIONS
The Killer Pack, Maxx Flash; Agency: VMLY&R, Mumbai
Indian mosquito repellent brand Maxx Flash created special packaging for its product. It will kill mosquito larvae when disposed in garbage dumps, which are major breeding grounds for mosquitos.
One House To Save Many, Suncorp Group; Agency: Leo Burnett Sydney
Insurance company Suncorp Group created this prototype house as a testing ground to explore the affects of extreme weather and help design more resilient homes.
Real Tone, Google; Agencies: Google/T Brand Studio, New York/Wieden + Kennedy, Portland/Gut, Miami
Lizzo stars in this spot created for the Super Bowl. It demonstrates Google’s Real Tone technology, which introduces new software to its camera phones to better capture darker skin tones in photos.
Liquid Billboard, Adidas; Agency: Havas Middle East, Dubai
This ‘swimmable’ billboard aims to encourage women in the Middle East to be more comfortable swimming in public and promote Adidas’ inclusive swimwear collection.
I Will Always Be Me, Dell/Intel; Agency: VMLY&R, New York
Created for those living with motor neurone disease, this software will help people ‘bank’ their voices for use after they have lost the ability to speak, which occurs as the disease progresses. The process of recording the voice is simple and only asks them to read a specially designed book out loud.
PRINT & PUBLISHING LIONS
The Elections Edition, Annahar Newspaper; Agency: Impact BBDO, Dubai
When the Lebanese government announced there was a shortage of ink and paper to print election ballots – meaning less people would be able to vote – the AnNahar newspaper ceased publication for a day and donated the paper and ink from unprinted edition to the government in order to print ballot papers.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS LIONS
The Missing Chapter, P&G Whisper; Agency: Leo Burnett, Mumbai
Part of Whisper’s #KeepGirlsInSchool initiative in India, this campaign aims to help educate girls about menstruation, a taboo subject in the country and a major reason why girls drop out of school at puberty.