What won from fashion at Cannes Lions 2015, and why there wasn’t more

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It’s hard to know whether the fashion industry not winning much at Cannes Lions is because the work isn’t good enough, or because few brands actually get entered in the first place.

I fear it’s the former (even though the latter is actually also true for a number of reasons). The fact of the matter is, the majority of designers continue to focus heavily on straightforward print campaigns that change little season to season other than through set and casting (you only need to look here at my colleague Sam’s coverage of what’s breaking for A/W 15/16 so far to see my point). The way they distribute them – i.e. on Instagram and Snapchat – might be evolving, but little else in terms of creativity is.

Big winners at Cannes this year otherwise varied from things like emotional storytelling from Nike Jordan to social commerce tied to the cultural movement that is emojis from Domino’s Pizza. Fashion brands have of course gotten increasingly better at films, albeit not quite to the same standard, and numerous are exploring social commerce on the one hand and emojis on the other. The next step is to integrate all of that a little better.

Nonetheless, there were some winners tied to the fashion industry this year – including brands from retail, sport, beauty and luxury – that deserve recognition. It wasn’t quite as sweeping a statement as Harvey Nichols’ was last year with Sorry I Spent it on Myself, but here’s a pick of the best for 2015:

John Lewis


John Lewis is always expected to pick something up for its Christmas efforts. This time round it was for 2014’s Monty the Penguin; the tale of a young boy and his pet on their quest for friendship created by adam&eveDDB. The two minute film at the heart of it was viewed 29m times across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, over 6m of which were before the advert even aired on TV. Better yet, the merchandise sales generated paid for the campaign, while sales across the department store rose a record 5.8% on Christmas 2013. It won the grand prix in film craft, gold in branded content & entertainment, silver in film, and a bronze in titanium & integrated. John Lewis also won a gold creative effectiveness Lion for its 2013 Christmas campaign, The Bear And The Hare.

Under Armour


Under Armour scooped the cyber Grand Prix, as well as two golds, six silvers and a bronze at this year’s awards for its I will What I Want campaign by Droga5 starring supermodel Gisele Bündchen. The aim of this ad was to connect Under Armour with a female audience. It did so through a view on empowerment, using Gisele to showcase the balance between inner and outer strength, with a real-time social media experiment impacting the experience. The results generated 1.5bn media impressions, with four minutes of engagement time on average and a reported 42% lift in traffic to UA.com.

L’Oréal Paris


L’Oréal Paris won four golds, four silvers and a bronze for its Makeup Genius app. A technology tool rather than a campaign, it allows consumers to virtually try on products through augmented reality, tracking their facial expressions in real-time as though it were a mirror. There have been over 9.9m downloads of the app since launch, with 25m looks tried, and 64m products tested.

Kmart’s Joe Bozer


Another tool that grabbed attention at Cannes was the Inactivity Tracker by Joe Boxer. This is a particular favourite of F&M’s – a promotion for pyjamas that jumps on the wearables bandwagon and suggests a fitness band that merits consumers for doing nothing at all. The device, created with FCB Chicago, was made available for free to a limited number of shoppers who purchased from Kmart in New York over a certain weekend. To amplify the launch, a 60-minute video of two men competing in the “2015 Joe Boxer Lounger Games” was released. Conversation around the brand increased 300% in the days following, while PJ sales increased 59% at the in-store launch, and 64% online.

Quiksilver


Keeping loosely with that wearables theme, Quiksilver Japan won for its True Wetsuits initiative in the PR and design categories. This is a waterproof business suit made from wetsuit material in a bid to encourage busy businessmen back to surfing without the hassle of having to get changed. Each wetsuit also comes with a pen-shaped communications device that allows users to send an instant “excuse email” if they’re held up in the waves. Created by TBWA Hakuhodo, the accompanying campaign was a viral success, leading to an instant sell out of the model within three days of launch.

Issey Miyake



A final stand out winner was Issey Miyake with its Pleats Please Flowers Series campaign, which won gold in the design category. The result was a series of print images, but it’s the technical artistry by Taku Satoh Design that went into it that’s worth watching. Each of the flowers shot in the campaign was created by firing a pellet into a balloon and capturing its eruption.

Others noteable winners included Nike for its House of Mamba initiative by AKQA; Citizen Watches for its Chasing Horizons campaign by Wieden + Kennedy; and Björn Borg for its First Person Lover game by Garbergs.