June 28, 2015

Cannes – it’s a wrap

Another year at Cannes has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Even for those of us not there it hasn’t been a particularly memorable festival. No stand out project that people will talk about for years to come. Lots of me-too work that makes women, teens, LGBT or whoever feel proud of themselves thanks to brands that truly understand them. With so many brands saving the world the future is looking bright. OK, maybe I’m being a bit cynical. But there is something of a bandwagon rolling around adland right now. So I am going to choose some of the work I think isn’t copycat.

Last year Intermarche in France showed how they were able to get French people buying ugly fruit and vegetables. This year they have come up with a way to brand fresh orange juice with the times that the juice was squeezed. It won gold in DIRECT and probably took a lot of efforts to get the production line up and running.

So many agencies are looking for that earth shattering idea and incredible execution to bring home a Cannes Grand Prix. Grey New York did it with hardly any effort at all. The Volvo Interception campaign took home the Direct Grand Prix with a simple tweet.

But sometimes it’s the beauty that makes it a winner as in this Cyber Gold winner for Photoshop’s 25th anniversary. The Dream On campaign made use of 1000s of Photoshop files submitted by real users.

Who would have thought that the humble GIF would be back and bigger than ever in 2015? EA Sports harnessed people’s obsessions with American football and GIFs to get people talking about their console games. This won a Mobile Gold and Cyber Silver Lion.

OK, so I need to include one project that tries to save the world. The Clever Buoy project for Optus (sorry Americans, doesn’t sound quite right when you say it) uses technology to protect people from those pesky sharks that want to spoil your fun and eat your limbs. After all, the sea is there for humans not sea life! Now you can check your mobile before jumping into the sea and feel safe knowing that M&C Saatchi won a Titanium and Mobile Lion.

Finally, if there is one thing that has helped advance civilization in recent years it is the emoji. It has elevated communication to whole new levels. Now we’ve reached the summit of language with this Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix project from CP+B that lets you order pizza with emoji. Not just any emoji of course. The pizza one. Another case of minimum effort for maximum Cannes glory.

I’m exhausted now so go and check out all the winners here – while I order a pizza.

September 13, 2013

AMCHAM Advertising After Party

Last night Nils Anderson, Y&R China’s Chief Creative Officer, and I jointly presented at a special event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. We wanted to share the winning campaigns from global advertising festivals like Cannes Lions to business leaders in China. I thought it would be interesting to share my own part of the presentation here.

While Nils focused on the Film category and spoke in depth about the craft that goes into winning work, I covered many of the other categories. I began by talking about the dramatic changes the advertising business has gone through since the Mad Men era. Just look at the picture below to see how quickly mobile devices have become the main way to create and consume media. Both show the announcement of a new Pope just 8 years apart.

Yet even with such amazing developments in technology, it is ideas that win not techniques or (dare I say it) gimmicks. In my presentation I began with a look at the category of DIRECT which is all about targeted communication with a clearly identifiable call-to-action or response mechanism. It’s all about having a measurable response.

This multi award-winning campaign from McCann Melbourne was based on real human insight. Take a serious message then make it fun and engaging. Make something that people want to share. Allow people to participate and own the campaign so the message gets magnified. The results speak for themselves. It didn’t just connect with people but changed behavior and demonstrates where our industry is going – harnessing the power of digital & social to seed the message.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals teamed up with MINI Cooper to teach dogs how to operate a car, in the hopes that it will draw attention to the talented and adorable dogs that were up for adoption. It shows the power of talk value in a campaign in order to capture attention.

When the laughs died down I then went on to talk about winners in the Cannes Cyber Lions. Very few people use the term “cyber” these days. It’s a throwback to the late 90s when the internet was still science fiction to many people. Now people talk about “digital” which is already sounding narrow and old fashioned. Maybe, after 5 years, I need to retire this blog if that’s the case.

The internet and social media as radically changed the advertising industry as much as other industries like music. But rather than being its death it breathed new life into what we do. Look at any great campaign now and see how it harnesses the power of digital to connect with consumers in ways not possible only 15 years ago.

Oreo’s 100th birthday mission was to help everyone around the world celebrate the child inside.  Draft FCB’s “Daily Twist” aimed to filter the world through the “playful imagination of Oreo.” It went way beyond a simple print campaign as it was designed to spark conversation and sharing on social platforms. On Facebook alone the population of fans grew to 27.7 million!

When an Adidas store is closed can you still allow people passing by to buy your clothes? That was the questions answered by agency TBWA Helsinki. It really shows how broad the category is.

It has been a long time coming but mobile marketing is now a force to be reckoned with. Today almost everyone carries smartphones and in many countries they are the primary access point to the internet. Mobile opens up lots of amazing opportunities to connect with consumers to deliver timely and relevant messages or to provide utility.

People love free wifi so Ogilvy Paris came up with an award-winning idea for their client Mattel by offering win free Wi-Fi minutes in places where there isn’t any. All you had to do was play Scrabble and your words became passwords to access the free Wi-Fi connection. You could stay connected as long as you are good at spelling words on Scrabble!

When everyone thinks of mobile they immediately think of high-end smartphones and sophisticated apps. But Philippines agency DM9 used a simple and low-tech solution to make a profound sustainable impact using the simplest phones. It shows how creative you can be with technology when it comes to solving problems

In the PROMO category it’s all about targeted online communication with a clearly identifiable call-to-action or response mechanism.

Sometimes the product becomes the campaign especially when you do something innovative. Coca Cola in with Ogilvy Paris and Singapore developed a can with a difference. One you could share without sharing germs.

How do you get more people to become organ donors? Ogilvy and Mather Brazil took real patients on organ-transplant waiting lists and created films directed at fans of the Sport Club Recife soccer team—telling them their hearts will keep beating for the team, even after they are gone, if they sign up to be an organ donor.

Like award ceremonies themselves I kept the best until last with the Titanium category from Cannes. Sometimes ideas are too big and multi-dimensional to fit into a single category. That’s why festivals like Cannes Lions created Titanium awards. The idea is everything, whether it’s for a car or toothpaste, telecommunications or charity, big budget or low budget.

“The Beauty Inside” by Pereira & O’Dell, which won major awards in digital, film and branded content categories, was born out of a powerful brand truth—just like an Intel processor, it’s what inside that counts. The campaign involved episodic films that followed the story of Alex, a man who wakes up looking like a different person every day. Apart from being “really social at its core” and “really beautiful” the smartest part was the integral role the brands played in the film. At Cannes it won grand prix in Cyber, Branded Content as well as Titanium.

Another Titanium winner came from Nike. When you are not sponsoring the Olympics how can your brand be heard? Nike tested the limits of the Olympic rules on ambush marketing with a global campaign by Wieden & Kennedy featuring everyday athletes and ordinary people enjoying sport in places around the world named London. Anybody could be their own champion no matter how great their achievement.

In fact, if there is one big trend recently in awards festivals it is the number of campaigns where brands are on a mission to do good. It’s not just about changing the world but helping people have a better outlook on life, to treat others and themselves with respect. Brands that are seen to do good are more attractive to consumers. Many of the cases I shared at the event reflect this. One of the Titanium Gold winners epitomized this trend.

Real Beauty Sketches is beautifully simple idea from Ogilvy Brazil centered on the insight that women often see themselves as being unattractive when in fact they are prettier than they think. The result is emotionally powerful and helped spark meaningful online conversations.

A saw a few tearful people in the audience so decided that I couldn’t leave them feeling down. I ended by demonstration that when a campaign is so successful you have to be prepared for one thing – to be parodied…

June 25, 2012

Cannes Reinvented

When the Cannes Lions changed their mantra to being a “festival of creativity” it was because of the sea change that digital was stirring where the word “advertising” was quickly becoming rather meaningless. In many ways “digital” is an obsolete word today since it has become the electricity that runs through every aspect of our life. With this year’s Cannes Lions we’ve reached that tipping point when every brand and every agency uses the power of digital to connect consumers with brands – sometimes literally.

As we can see from the Titanium Grand Prix winner for Nike + Fuelband. It goes beyond communication and becomes communion. Between consumers and the brand, with the product and with each other.

Almost every winner in every category has digital running through it. In Branded Content & Entertainment the Grand Prix when to Chipotle with their film using a digital-first strategy, first launching on YouTube with no paid media support. The launch was supported with an earned media plan and the social media assets of Chipotle, Willie Nelson and Coldplay to a collective audience of 21m Facebook fans.

In the Direct category a huge percentage of the Gold winners were digitally-centric including this project for Montblanc. This international campaign conceived for the web and a worldwide audience and target, was designed to build maximum awarness for Montblanc as a watchmaker brand. The simple idea was to ask people to create a 1-second-long video that celebrated the fragile beauty that can be found in this small unit of time. They teamed up with film-director Wim Wenders and challenged people to capture beauty in a 1-second-long video, creating the shortest ever short-film contest. People competed online at montblanc-onesecond.com by uploading their one-second videos of beauty.


It’s the same story in Promo & Activation. Many of the top winners were either infused with digital goodness or relied on digital channels to get their message out there. Mobile is also becoming a great tool for activation and in this project George Patterson Y&R Melbourne has created the first medically diagnosable advertising for the Australian Defence Force.

These are exciting times to be in the “advertising” business. There are so many amazing possibilities right now thanks to the power digital gives us. The biggest challenge is finding the most relevant and meaningful idea. Because at the end of the day that’s what counts. It’s not the technology itself but what you do with it. Digital may have transformed Cannes but big ideas still rule.

June 21, 2012

Cyber Grand Prix – this is the new digital

Another year and another wake up call for the advertising industry. Everything is now digital but not how you think. From the Outdoor Lions to PR and Promo, everything has digital running through it – because that’s how it should be. It reflects the reality of the world we live in. The internet is like air. Who can live without it today? Anyway, the Cyber Lions were announced and we have two worthy winners. Twitter still seems to be on the rise as a great marketing tool (maybe because they don’t have a CEO who is a tool) and this project for Visit Sweden was a risky idea that really paid off. As reported on AdAge, “the Swedish Institute’s “Curators of Sweden” campaign, launched at the end of 2011, handed over Sweden’s national Twitter handle (@Sweden) to Sweden’s natives in order to showcase the diversity of the Swedish national character, in effect, launching “The world’s most democratic Twitter account.” Each week, a new curator was chosen to man the account, including a writer, teacher, priest and lesbian trucker. The campaign sparked recent controversy for featuring an irreverent young mother named Sonja Abrahamsson who expressed anti-Semitic remarks but also inspired (American) comedian Stephen Colbert petitioning to be the first non-Swede to take over the account”.

The other winner is was the work done for Nike and their Fuelband. It takes the Nike + idea to a whole new level. Haven’t found the case video yet but R/GA  developed an “immersive media launch event and participatory art installation around the concept of ‘what fuels New York’. This evolved into a day of high energy missions and cultural activities all over the city, where the influencers were broken into teams and competed to earn the most fuel points. As a launching ground for the missions we created a futuristic departure space with motion-activated interactive light installations and leader boards displaying real-time fuel data. The FUELWALL interactive light installation became the inspiration for a series of responsive LED wall installations that we created in conjunction with Nike+Fuelband launch events”.

June 19, 2012

Cannes 2012

So the the first great project to win a Grand Prix this year is the Small Business Saturday campaign for Amex – winning in the Promo & Activation category. Developed by CP+B and Digitas, the campaign saw AmEx give small stores around America a digital toolkit to help them participate in the day, with instructions on how to build special Facebook pages, YouTube video ads and Foursquare deals enticing shoppers back onto Main Street.

Really like this silver winner from the PR Lions. O&M London created this for Dove where online banners that make women feel overweight or less than beautiful get an instant makeover.

February 24, 2012

Your best shot

Every agency is furiously working to finalize their award entry videos for Cannes. Recently Faris Yakob, chief innovation officer at MDC Partners, gave a presentation for the Clio Awards giving some tips on how to make awesome case study videos, from the POV of the judges. Inspiring stuff.

View more presentations from Faris Yakob
July 5, 2011

12 Social Trends

Interesting presentation showing 12 social trends from Cannes. OK, I know it is over but it just keeps on giving…
June 26, 2011

Apres Cannes – trends for the coming year

As the dust settles and the sun sets on the Cannes Festival of Creativity (significantly this year the word “advertising” has gone) it is worth looking at the Cyber Lion winners to get an idea of some of the trends we might see for the year ahead.

Three grand prix winners this year and they couldn’t be more different. First up is The Wilderness Downtown from Google Creative Lab showing that being creative with code can result in powerful emotions. This is digital marketing as art, helped enormously by the music of Arcade Fire. Could this be the start of a new wave of emotionally driven digital campaigns that are highly personalized?


Secondly the accolades keep coming for Old Spice and the responses campaign by Wieden + Kennedy. Not really a complex digital campaign but one that really capitalized on the popularity of its star. In their own words they “created an interactive experience in which our Old Spice Guy personally responded to fans on the Internet in real time. Instead of using traditional paid media, we leveraged social platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter—ultimately creating an effort that would become one of fastest-growing and most popular interactive campaigns in history”.


After two Grand Prix winners that succeeded through engaging with the audience personal level we have a third winner that shows creativity in how we can turn word of mouth into a powerful currency. As winning agency R/GA explain – “Pay with a Tweet is the first social payment system, where people pay with the value of their social network. We launched Pay With A Tweet with the release of our book “Oh My God What Happened And What Should I Do?”. It’s simple, people who have something to sell simply add the Pay With A Tweet button to their site, and people simply click on the button and tweet about the product. They are then able to download it: a book, album, or whatever. What began as a promotion became a whole new way to trade content online”.


One thing to remark, all three grand prix winners were from the USA while in other Cannes categories we see countries such as China, Korea and Romania taking the top spot. Does this show that in digital only clients (and agencies) in the US are being brave enough to try new things? Budget could also be a factor. Hopefully the examples of these successful US campaigns will inspire other countries to put more money into digital and allow daring creative ideas to see the light of day.

In a follow up post I’ll look at the other winners in Gold, Silver and Bronze to see what other trends are emerging.

June 22, 2011

Musical Fitting Rooms

So we are in the middle of Cannes craziness and even if you can’t be there (like myself) it is easy to follow what’s happening on their website. Already we have seen some interesting digital winners in categories outside the Cyber Lions. Like this one from DDB Singapore which won Gold for ‘Best temporary in-store displays in a promotional campaign’ and silver for ‘Best use of ambient in a promotional campaign’. It also took home a Bronze Lion in the Direct awards category for ‘Direct response digital: other digital platforms’. Using RFID chips on clothes labels they were able to play songs associated with that style to promote the music download store StarHub. Nice idea!

April 11, 2011

Month of tweets #3

The month of March slid by in a blink of an eye. Let’s take a look back at some of the things I tweeted and retweeted that are worth a second glance…

Cool YouTube takeover for Schick Hydro by JWT Sydney…http://bit.ly/f0Y1rT

  • I’m sure these things cost a bucketload of money. Cool to look at but do they deliver results. Would love to know.

Brands do good… RT @annaloop: Kellog digital campaign: “Photograph your Breakfast & give a meal to a poor Child” http://nyti.ms/eYTkBW

  • After Pepsi Refresh here is another example of a brand using cause marketing to attract more customers.

Looks great RT @fastcompany: Personalized iPad Magazine Zite Learns As You Read, Challenges @Flipboard in the process: http://bit.ly/fSpeyY

  • I’m sure we’ll see more of these as time passes. Is personalisation the way to go or will people want to be surprised by things that maybe were not for them but are new discoveries?

Mercedes-Benz: Transparent Walls – very smart idea…

  • By Ad Agency Jung von Matt in Germany. Love this kind of thing – useful, innovative and clever.

Exciting stuff… RT @fastcompany: Augmented Reality May Be the iPad 2’s Secret Killer App http://bit.ly/h1vgPw

  • People have been bitching about the camera on the back (and front) of the iPad 2. So it won’t replace your camera anytime soon but it could provide some other cool functions.

Adidas All In Projection Mapping in Paris. Very Cool…

  • Will we get bored of seeing this kind of thing? By the looks on the faces of the spectators we might soon be asking when it will be over.

Cool project… RT @Sergethew: Sweet car reveal by Hyundai, mixing light sculpture & interactivity – http://bit.ly/dH5bq5

  • Would love to do a project like this. Inspiring stuff.

If your agency can’t afford to send you to Cannes – find a creative solution… http://bit.ly/f7TlSa

  • The silly season is soon approaching and people are trying to find all sorts of ways to get a ticket to go. Just get a nomination and that might help.

Kraft campaign for Mac & Cheese – best tweets turned into TVCs… http://on.fb.me/eE9jXP

  • They did it once with Old Spice guy. Why waste a good idea on one client?


As usual a little something to end with a smile…

Ashamed to say one is mine 🙁 RT @alleyinsider: The 22 Most Hilarious, Unfortunately Placed Ads Ever by @shontelaylay http://read.bi/eXRioR