The New Age of Creativity is here!

The Cannes Lions is back! The biggest extravaganza of the advertising world! Some call it the equivalent to the Oscars of the advertising industry. Others believe it’s a complete waste of time and money whereby the industry celebrates itself with work that largely has little or no impact on the real world (Rory Sutherland aptly shared his views on the Cannes here)! I think it’s a celebration of creativity first and foremost! Effectiveness and impact are on the agenda but not always a priority (we have the Effies for that)! So do we really need the Cannes Lions then? I think yes. Creativity needs inspiration. If nothing else Cannes Lions is an inspiring affair. To see the cream of the industry spew out unexpected genius to marketing problems is a treat. Yes it’s true that at times solutions are devised for problems that don’t yet exist. Other times the ideas seem to generate a lot of talk value but don’t really impact the business. But the inspiration gained from this epitome of creativity is certainly fuel for any creative mind to pursue their next big thing! Besides the awards the learnings from the talks and panel discussions are something else as well. Although I have never been to Cannes myself, thanks to Twitter and the enthusiastic live tweeting from the hordes of attendees makes it one of my most coveted hashtags to follow each year!

For this post I want to share my perspective of what was indeed the best work at the Cannes Lions and why! Mind you though this is not a list or a review of all the Grand Prix winners (you are most welcome to browse those on AdAge here)! This post is about a category that is very new to the Cannes Lions! Four years ago I had prepared a SlideShare on the key learnings from the  seminars. Today it seems the industry has well embraced those learnings. The fact that we have a Creative Data Lions category is testament that the industry is evolving and the awards are following suit to ensure the changing nature of creativity is fully represented! Although it is the second year since this category was introduced there are clearly some outstanding submissions that deserve a closer look. Here are 4 of my favorites!

The Next Rembrandt

Besides the fact that that the “The Next Rembrandt” was one of three submissions this year that won two Grand Prix Lions (Creative Data and Cyber). This is by far my favorite for the simple reason that it is for a brand that stands for innovation and that it leverages a sponsorship in a way that ties beautifully to the brand. In my last stint I too was working for a brand that stood for innovation and as Head of Branding for Mobily I was responsible for leveraging our investment in sponsorships in way that built on the brand promise of innovation. And it was always a challenge to combine the two seamlessly. In the case of ING the challenge was to leverage ING’s 10 year sponsorship in Dutch arts and culture in a way that stood true to ING’s focus on innovation. And so it did! The team at JWT managed to bring together a diverse group of experts, data scientists, historians and artists to capture every aspect of Rembrandt’s work – from the way he painted facial features to the layering he applied to paint his portraits. They used all this data to develop an algorithm that helped them create an astoundingly lifelike portrait using a 3D printer that is erringly true to Rembrandt’s style of work. Check out the case study video below:

Why I find it fascinating is the idea of using all of Rembrandt’s work as source data and then being able to break it down to such intricate detail that it enabled a computer generated recreation that is as good as a Rembrandt original. There is a WOW factor indeed in both the idea and the execution. The opportunity going forward is in the immense power of data and how if combined can be used to not only create art, but as we saw from some of the other Cannes submissions, make music and even tell stories!

Live Logo

To my mind one of the earliest dynamic brand identities ever developed was for the “City of Melbourne” by Landor. In the digital age where brands live on audio/visual media more than ever before many brands have embraced the idea of a dynamic brand identity. This Gold Cannes Lions winner in the Creative Data category is one such example that takes dynamic brand identities to a whole new level! The brand identity for INEC, the National Institute of Statistics in Ecuador is a living, breathing example of exactly what INEC does – to gauge the well-being of the people of Ecuador and use this knowledge to enable improvement across society. The identity takes real time data across the five key parameters that matter to a society like happiness, employment, housing, clean water and literacy and plots it as a dynamic identity. Therefore at any given point when you see their logo you know exactly where Ecuador stands on these important parameters. Not only has this made the role of INEC relevant to the masses but also made data meaningful for everyone in a simple visual representation that is none other than their own logo! Check out the case study video to learn more:

Why I choose this idea is because of the pertinence of the identity to the purpose of the brand. The logo uses data that would otherwise be irrelevant and inaccessible for the majority and makes it engaging and meaningful for everyone. There is always a challenge when developing a brand’s identity to make sure it fits and builds on the brand’s purpose, and not just be a work of art.  This case highlights the opportunities for brands to not only use data to make meaningful connections and drive behavior change but also to make their identities work harder while adding value to the lives of their audience. A very tall order indeed! How can your brand visualize the petabytes of data available to you and make it meaningful enough to influence opinion and change behavior?

The Second Scoreboard

Real-Time Marketing is an exciting facet of marketing. It’s a subject that inspired me to write an iBook and continues to be a topic I closely follow! Seeing this entry win a Creative Data Gold Lion was reassuring. The fact that real time marketing continues to evolve and go beyond just a marketing stunt. More importantly this idea tackles a deep-rooted social issue whereby making this not just a marketing campaign but marketing for a greater good. The idea originates from Costa Rica and builds on the insight that during a soccer game incidents of domestic violence increase by 690%! To tackle this problem the Ministry of Women Affairs developed a real-time scoreboard and added it to the game scoreboard during a live TV broadcast. The purpose of this scoreboard was to track real-time 911 calls related to domestic violence during the game and as a result drive awareness to this highly prevalent issue! This scoreboard ensured that the topic of domestic violence got significant coverage on the media leading celebrities, influencers and sportscasters to all join in the conversation and urge audiences to keep this scoreboard to a zero! Check out the case study video below:

Why I included this idea is because it makes smart use of real-time data and presents it in a fresh and very relevant context. From an execution standpoint it’s simple and yet very ubiquitous. It’s there throughout the ninety minutes of the game and it allows any changes in the score to naturally spark a conversation not just amongst the sportscasters but among the audiences as well! The challenge for brands wanting to leverage real-time data would always be to ensure the context is relevant and the execution simple enough to to create an impact and drive behavior change. The second scoreboard does both really well!


Ah! The Internet of Things (IoT). Taking over the world one device at a time. This idea by Mabe is a brilliant example of a smart yet simple solution enabled by technology that is a win-win for everyone. Mabe is a maker of gas stoves and ovens among other appliances, originating from Mexico. The problem? If their customer runs out of gas the stove fails to work. And there is no efficient way to determine if the gas is running low in a cylinder until it actually runs out! Enter Mabe with their “GaScale” – a smart internet enabled weighing scale. It knows once the gas cylinder reaches 10% of it’s volume by it’s weight. Since the scale is internet enabled it sends a notification to their customer that the gas is running low. Through a smartphone app the customer is able to not only be informed that gas is low but is also able to order a replacement from the app itself! Problem solved. Brilliantly simple! Check out the Cannes Lions case video below:

The inherent principle behind the “Internet of Things” is the same. It’s about bringing internet connectivity to everyday devices and using this connection to either control the device or take some action remotely. The possibilities are endless. The opportunities for brands can be either by unleashing the power of connectivity on existing product lines or by developing new device ideas that extend the usage capability of existing products and services. What device if internet-enabled could transform the way you do business? Feel free to comment in the section below.

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