The Winners That Caught Our Eye at Cannes 2018

Racepoint Global

Written by: Marketing Services Team – Racepoint Global Boston

In this industry, there are a few keywords you find yourself hearing over and over, but you may never really think about the impact they actually have. Among these terms used, innovation and creativity stand out from the rest. Although its cliché these two simple words really do serve as the groundwork for a campaign to stand out and shine in the sea of ads.

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity celebrates the hard work and brilliant ideas brought to the world by innovative and creative thinkers. As marketers we keep a close eye on the awarded campaigns, hoping to gain a little inspiration ourselves. From June 19th to the 22nd we saw an array of campaigns that knocked our socks off, so we wanted to share our thoughts on some of the best.

Kiwi Shoe Polish

The first Cannes winner that caught our eye was a print ad from Kiwi Shoe Polish. It features Muhammad Ali’s shoes and a page full of small font copy that generated a lot of buzz. With the dominance of VR and AI this year, it could be considered surprising that a long-form copy print ad walked away with the top honor. It won the Grand Prix for Cannes Lions’ first Industry Craft award which celebrates the artistry, talent, and skill required to deliver a beautifully executed solution to a brand’s problems. The ad told a touching story and drove impact simply yet effectively – with powerful words and one iconic image.

Xbox Design Lab Originals: The Franchise Model

The video game industry has seen its fair share of backlash recently about various issues, but one main gripe from consumers is the incremental increase in price, ranging from games to accessories. Xbox decided to turn this challenge into an opportunity by allowing users to customize their controllers and then sell their design to other Xbox players, allowing the user to make a profit and lessen the impact of price increases. (need to change one of these)

At first, I was skeptical– how interesting can you make a standard controller with a few color changes? And will that result in players actually making money? However, Xbox’s award-winning campaign for Creative E-commerce at Cannes changed my mind.

The colorfully (or lack thereof) designed controllers were used in print and OOH ads and appealed in a lifestyle-y way. However, the video that was developed for the campaign really got to the heart of why the idea really resonated with customers. As designers showed their work on screen, they also explained their reasoning behind it. One person designed a red and yellow “Man United” controller for himself and the massive fan base of the Manchester United team who may want to purchase. Another user designed a red, white and blue controller in their support of Trump, which was quickly followed up by a controller designed with the exact color palette of Cheetos as a subtle jab. Breast cancer awareness and marriage equality were also represented in the variety of designs.

This campaign was successful because Xbox was able to change purchase behavior by turning customers into entrepreneurs through monetization, but also by tapping into the emotions of buyers. Consumers today will pay a little bit more for a product that aligns with their beliefs and values. So, allowing the controllers to be adaptable created endless possibilities to generate sales they may not have had before by touching on niche interests.

Nike: Nothing Beats a Londoner

Cannes introduced a new category, Social & Influencers, this year and Nike took home the Grand Prix for the “Nothing Beats a Londoner” campaign. The three-minute video features London athletes of all levels and a variety of sports, including several stars, who all perform despite the difficulties of training and competition. The video becomes increasingly preposterous, illustrating cartoonish scenarios exaggerating the trials and tribulations of athletics. Nike brought the campaign to social by activating the Londoner celebrities of the cast on their own Instagram channels. Each posted about their own segment of the video and linked to the next athlete.

This category and the winning Nike campaign illustrate how much influence on creativity social media and its stars have. Campaigns like this allow for authenticity to become embedded into a brand. Collaborating with athletes who speak the same truth as Nike helped them drive authentic storytelling and appeal to the not only the London athlete and fan but also to a wider audience that holds the same values. Beyond just sponsoring athletes, Nike emphasized a give and take partnership, working with them to create an experience that connects with consumers and helps develop both of their brands.

ALS Association: Project Revoice

For most of these campaigns, primary goals are to grow brand awareness, sell a product, etc. So when a campaign’s focus is not to entice the consumer, it’s refreshing. This can be said for the ALS Association’s campaign “Project Revoice.” ALS is not new, but to many people, it is a disease that is fresh in their minds. Due to the massive popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS awareness skyrocketed and since then the progress hasn’t stopped.

Project Revoice took an innovative and heart-wrenching approach to help ALS patients get their voice back after the progression of the disease overtakes their ability to speak. Pat Quinn, co-founder of the Ice Bucket Challenge, was one of the most outspoken advocates for ALS awareness, but like most ALS patients he too lost his voice to the disease. Project Revoice utilized speech technology and past videos of Quinn speaking at events and recreated his voice. Now when Quinn speaks through the technology his family no longer hears a robot-like voice, they hear Quinn’s.

This campaign hopes to not only raise awareness for ALS but raise awareness for the technology available to ALS patients who can no longer speak. In addition to being innovative and inspiring, the campaign did true good for people struggling with this disease.  It is captivating to see the impact technology can have on a single person’s life, and how a campaign can permeate that information to change other’s lives as well.

Lacoste: Save Our Species

The French clothing brand, Lacoste, launched its ‘Save Our Species’ campaign during the 2018 Paris fashion week. The campaign, part of a three-year partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, took home the Gold Lion for the Design Lion category. Lacoste changed a significant factor that was consistent with the brand for 85 years. The brand’s clothing is commonly recognized for their eye-catching crocodile logo, but this year the brand took a bold and innovative approach in promoting social good. Lacoste ditched their crocodile logo in a limited-edition polo collection and replaced it with 10 endangered species varying from the Burmese roofed turtle to the Sumatran tiger. Lacoste agreed to sell the same amount of shirts as there are existing endangered species, and as a result, 1775 polos were released to customers. These polos sold out in 24 hours and personal donations have multiplied by 4 since the launch of the campaign.

Apple: Welcome Home

Apple took the victory for the Grand Prix in Entertainment Lions for Music. Apple’s dynamic four-minute film, “Welcome Home,” featuring Anderson Paak’s song, delivers an emotional, yet provocative approach promoting the captivating experience HomePod can bring to customers.  Apple’s HomePod launched in February of 2018, and the smart speaker- a combination of Siri intelligence and Apple Music- works to bring the highest level sound to users. The bright campaign features English singer, FKA Twigs, as an office worker who expands the everyday boundaries of her world while playing a song on her HomePod. Twigs’ environment is transformed from being on the dull work commute home to a multicolored, blissful utopia. The visual metaphor of stretching walls and furniture symbolizes how listening to HomePod in a small space automatically expands the home. The goal of the campaign was to show the effect sound has on an individual’s living space, and this is shared by dancing to Paak’s song. Apple’s “Welcome Home” film grabbed not only the Cannes Lions judges’ attention but also the majority of the public, as it was the most watched piece of branded entertainment in March 2018 on YouTube.

Each of these campaigns from Cannes take new, fresh approaches that capture the essence of what makes marketing great. Understanding how others are pushing the boundaries and disrupting the norm drives us to think divergently. There is no shortage of creative thought at the Cannes Festival every year and we celebrate the continuation of recognizing the agencies and brands that make an impact.