Cannes Lion 2014

We came, we saw, we roared!

The Cannes Lions honors the best in brand creativity on a global stage and motivates and inspires marketers and agencies to raise the bar creatively every year. The work that broke through this year forged meaningful connections based on utility, authenticity and good old-fashioned storytelling.


'Sound of Honda' wins Titanium, deserves Titanium. The "Sound of Honda" was created out of Dentsu Tokyo and recreated racecar driver Ayrton Senna's 1989 record-setting lap during the Japanese F1 circuit in Suzuka in a incredible sound and light filled installation. The cool thing is that this installation was built using real data recorded with the brand's "Internavi" navigation system, first launched more than 20 years ago in Hondas. The data was translated into racecar sounds that were then combined with lights and a real racetrack to simulate Senna's original drive.

THE WINNERS I LOVE - Effectiveness

DDB Worldwide brilliantly re-branded McDonald's to Macca's (which is what we call it in Oz), for a month over the Australia Day weekend. It really does speak to global brands being culturally relevant.

McDonald's Canada also entered the Effectiveness category with an honest execution (Real Food Real Questions) asking people submit questions they have about how McDonald's products are made. They were asked 240 questions, they answered all 240 of them. Although it did not win an award, it again speaks to a brand striving to be relevant. Here's one of the videos:


This year’s Grand Prix Mobile Winner, a print and mobile ad for Nivea Sun Kids, showed the promise this holds for great consumer experiences.  “Sun-Band” from Nivea and FCB São Paolo was a kids’ sunscreen print ad that turned into a wearable device, letting parents monitor how close their kids were to the water.

This is brilliant marketing on a number of fronts: it provided parents with an instant utility, proved that print can be innovative and it aligned with Nivea Sun’s brand message around safety.


Consumers today are creators, curators and critics -- personal expression is a new form of entertainment.  We’re moving towards a place where brands are valued because they are accessible and relatable.

That’s why Pharrell’s 24-hour music video for the song “Happy” was a Cyber Grand Prix winner at this year’s Festival and one of the best creative efforts this year.  The interactive video featured more than 300 people dancing and prompted more than 1,500 fan remakes. “Happy” reached 9 million people in 24 hours, who watched for an average 6 minutes and went from $50,000 in sales before this experience to $7 million after.

For it to make a lasting impact, storytelling still matters. The best creative at Cannes this year wasn’t necessarily about gadgetry or innovation but telling a smart story.

Volvo Trucks’ “Epic Split,” another Cyber Grand Prix winner, nailed storytelling. To showcase the stability of Volvo steering, the spot featured action star Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a perfect spilt between two reversing trucks. Volvo found a way to make the technology behind truck steering compelling not just to the key target audience of truck drivers but to a general audience.

Impactful storytelling doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What gave “Epic Split” staying power was the long-term strategy Volvo Trucks put behind it. Volvo seeded the idea for months with ongoing videos using outrageous stunts showing off the trucks’ features, racking up more than 100 million YouTube views over two years. The campaign then had additional legs with spoofs like a YouTube clip promoting 22 Jump Street and featuring Channing Tatum.

So, what does this mean for marketers? The brands that react with relevant creative,  tap into the cultural relevancy of the moment, and are delivered in remarkable ways will continue to stand out. It could be brands creating experiences that tap the “selfie” culture by allowing themselves to be at the heart of your brand, driven by sight, sound and motion (think First Kiss by Wren and This Built America, Ford),  Or brands that are prepared to “hack” their brand and create something completely unique by tapping into the DNA of the brand (think Honda Senna recreation).  It’s about experiences that invite people to explore and experiment with them. We will see more brand experiences that adapt to the environment, both in established channels like digital outdoor (think British Airways, the Magic of Flying) to new advertising platforms not yet released – of course with updated ways to measure the effectiveness of the creativity.

One thing I do know for sure is that Cannes Lions remains an important place to celebrate creativity. It helps crystalize themes, ideas and trends across creativity while inspiring us to think about how to deliver through new platforms and channels. Today ideas can be delivered to the right person, at the right time, in the right way, through sight, sound and motion in short-form, long-form, interactive-form, sharable-form or multipurpose-form. The future of creativity will be about utilizing all of these “natively” and “purposely” through brands to capture the hearts and minds of people, creating value and increasing their spend.

Could a tweet be as important and effective as a 30 second TV spot in terms of the narrative of a brand – absolutely. Will that tweet win an award in isolation of a story and be celebrated in Cannes? Probably not.

david shing