ADMA boss: It all ads up in Cannes, so who will win?

By Jodie Sangster | 16 June 2014

I have finally made it to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and what an incredible display sits before me. Cannes has always undoubtedly been the world’s biggest celebration of advertising creativity, but now it’s so much more. The entire spectrum of what advertising has become is now on full display – leading with exceptional creativity but enhanced by technology, data, content and innovation.

There are more than 10,000 outstanding creatives, world-class marketers, leading strategists and out-there thinkers from over 90 countries who, like me, have convened in Cannes. This week I will see the best that marketing and advertising has to offer, host drinks for Australian delegates, network with industry friends from far-flung corners of the globe, attend creative seminars, celebrate awards and take part in animated conversations about the future of marketing and advertising. I am resigned to the fact that there’s no sleep this week…

This year, Cannes Lions has a record number of entries with a total of 37,427 entries from 97 countries and 17 award categories. The highest number of entries comes from the USA and Brazil, while the UK, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Canada and China make up the rest of the top 10 list. This year’s work is imaginative, fun and full of humanity.

The ad, Epic Split for Volvo Trucks by Sweden’s Forsman & Bodenfors is the one everyone is predicting to sweep up a raft of awards. It features Belgian film star Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two reversing trucks. It has had over 100 million views on YouTube, making it the most viral automotive campaign ever.

Last year I was heartened to see that both innovative use of data and brand storytelling featured heavily as key themes that judges both applauded and awarded. I expect these will once again be topics for 2014.

It’s likely that the judges will increasingly hone in on data-driven campaigns due to the level of personalisation and relevance that such campaigns deliver and, of course, because such campaigns consistently achieve exceptional results.

On that front, Ogilvy 112th Floor London’s outdoor billboard Magic of Flying campaign for British Airways is no doubt going to pick up a few medals. This campaign demonstrated an incredible use of data in outdoor advertising, with digital billboards at Piccadilly Circus and Chiswick programmed to show boys and girls pointing at real BA flights as they passed overhead, including each plane's flight number, origin or destination. It also allowed for tailored messages such as the cost of the flight and weather for where the plane was headed. While capturing the power of data, it takes us back to our childhood delight in planes and where they are going.

Storytelling has also become more important for the Cannes judges as brands switch from the hard sell to the new customer engagement model. To that end, CAA Marketing in LA have created a haunting dystopian fantasy for Chipotle Mexican Grill in which a scarecrow escapes from a soulless industrial food company operated by nasty robotic crows, harvests his own vegetables and opens a burrito stand in the city. The viral ad started a conversation about where our food comes from and cultivating a better world.

‘Advertising for good’ and using campaigns to build an emotional rapport with consumers are also tipped to do well. Tackling a very tough subject, Dutch agency Lemz created ‘Sweetie,’ a computerized version of a 10-year-old Filipino girl, who was sent into online forums to track down paedophiles engaging in webcam child sex tourism. Through data and technology, Sweetie ended up catching some 1,000 predators from 71 countries. It’s the kind of advertising that takes on the challenge of serious social issues and in doing so makes the world a better place. This campaign is likely to win for its stellar results.

Funny is always a winner with the judges. On that, I can’t go past Harvey Nichol’s Sorry, I Spent It On Myself. Created by Adam&eveDDB, the department store encouraged viewers to spend as little as possible on their loved ones with suggested gag gifts like toothpicks in favour of spending more on themselves.

This year we are also seeing a return to the longer documentary style ad and that’s where New Zealand has a chance. Blazed, the campaign Clemenger BBDO Wellington has created for the NZ Transport Agency, features Maori children arguing over whose dad is more irresponsible in a most compelling and hilarious commercial about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs.

As for Australia, as much as we would love a repeat of last year’s Dumb Ways to Die phenomenon, it may not be on the cards. However, The Most Powerful Arm Ever Invented campaign created for the Save Our Sons and Duchenne Foundation is truly wonderful and likely to be a winner for Finch and Havas Worldwide

Designed to raise awareness for young sufferers of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and lobby the government to match funds for a new treatment for suffers, the robotic arm uses Facebook to sign signatures onto a petition in the handwriting of Jacob Lancaster, a DMD sufferer who can no longer write. Users could see their name being signed via a live stream and their signature was then posted to their Facebook feed, allowing them to share it and encourage others to take part in the campaign.

The advertising and marketing landscape continues to evolve rapidly. It’s wonderful to see the Festival wholeheartedly embrace enablers such as data, content and technology which will transform the future of creativity as we know it. I’m looking forward to a week of celebration and inspiration that showcases what is possible when all the elements come together.

Jodie Sangster

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