The creativity behind a pair of Cannes Lions Grand Prix winners

By Ruby Derrick | 17 August 2023
Beth O'Brien and Barbara Humphries.

The First Digital Nation for Tuvalu and Samsung's Flipvertising were both Cannes Lions Grand Prix winners which left a mark on audiences around the world. 

A session at This Way Up, the advertising festival of creativity, called The Work Behind the Work was a glimpse behind the scenes which unpacked the inspiration of the two campaigns and the creative teams from which they were born.

Speaking on behalf of The Monkeys, part of Accenture Song’s work for the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu was Barbara Humphries, executive creative director and Beth O'Brien, head of innovation. 

Humphries said that current predictions have the island of Tuvalu being unliveable by 2050.  

Tuvalu needed a solution that was going to both bridge climate adaptation and climate mitigation strategies,” she said.  

“They needed to tell the world what was happening in a provocative way. So, our solution was The First Digital Nation. It’s a strategy for Tuvalu to remain a nation even after its land is gone.” 

O’Brien at The Monkeys said this had been a decade long project, not a “short-term thing”. 

“Our first decision was deciding that we needed to use Minister Kofi’s address at COP27 to announce Tuvalu’s plan,” said O’Brien. 

The Monkeys wanted the island to feel lonely and tragic to visually represent the scope of the issue.  

The team also wanted to communicate that this was just the start of what was to come, a kind of digital construction site, she said.  

“We wanted it to have a digital roughness around the edges. Because it's the first country to leave this physical plane and move to the cloud, we needed to make sure the emotion that went with it was very clear.” 

From CHEP Network, the panel consisted of Hansen Ding, digital media lead, Will Winter-Irving , senior art director and Joe Ranallo, senior copywriter.  

Ranallo said the team started with the idea to give away free phones inside of an ad and ask people to try and get that ad to target them.  

One of the biggest inspirations for this idea was that we knew audiences knew how to screw with their algorithms, so we wanted to use that to our advantage,” he said.  

“The core of the idea never really changed and that’s a testament to the client for trusting the process and trusting us.” 

As the digital media lead, Ding said the difficulty with the campaign is that usually when someone surfs the web it feels like ads are following them around, but all digital ad systems are built to be expansive rather than precise.  

We needed a winning ad that was really precise; that doesn’t show up much... but if you do certain things it will show up for you and then you can win a phone,” he said.  

We also thought about driving people to the website but because of privacy, we couldn't reliably target Apple users doing that, which was what Samsung needed to do to grow.”  

What the team came up with, noted Ding, was that a user had to search three specific key words and each key word would get them to a YouTube video of a hidden channel. 

Those videos were then what allowed the user to see the winning ad.  

Going into it, I was super confident, and I knew we tested every case,” he said.  

As a creative, Winter-Irving said it was one of those ideas he never really knew if it would resonate with people, despite putting everything in place to successfully do so. 

“Because it was a digital campaign where we used Google search, we had quick feedback that it was working and resonating with the Gen Z audience,” he said.  

As Gen Z was the target audience of the campaign, the team knew they were digitally savvy, which allowed them to get a bit crazy with the tone of voice for Samsung, said Winter-Irving. 

“We could push the tone of voice ever so slightly which meant we could make some weird and whacky films,” he said.  

The audience started working together as a community, completely unprompted by the agency, he said.  

“They started working together in the comments section saying ‘it could be this, or it might be that’, which was great to see the whole thing happen organically.”  

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