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Cannes Lions 2017: All the fashion, retail and sports winners

Ikea's response campaign to Balenciaga's bag launch  - cannes lions
Ikea’s response campaign to Balenciaga’s bag launch

Given the way the world has changed over the past 12 months, it’s no surprise to see pieces of work that have something truly meaningful behind them walking away with the big prizes at this year’s Cannes Lions.

Where in 2016, we were all about new technologies and looking to the future, for 2017 it’s really been about what makes a statement, moves people, plays on human truths and ultimately initiates some kind of real impact. That’s not entirely new for the creative and advertising industry, of course, but it stood out more than ever against a backdrop of growing consumer uncertainty.

State Street Global Advisors’ Fearless Girl by McCann New York for instance was the big winner of the week. This bronze statue, which stands opposite Wall Street’s Charging Bull, launched on International Women’s Day (the first under President Trump) in a bid to prove that companies with strong female leadership perform better than their male-led counterparts. It won a huge four Grand Prix awards, praised for the fact it was “disruptive, irreverent and broke the mould”.

The Film Grand Prix meanwhile went to Channel 4’s We’re the Superhumans, while other Grand Prix awards touched on the environment, on traffic accidents, on refugees and on equal voting.

Fearless Girl cannes lions
Fearless Girl

The Innovation Grand Prix winner also came under the impact header. Awarded to The Humanium Metal Initiative by Åkestam Holst for IM Swedish Development Partner, it is the world’s first supply chain distributing metal made from destructed illegal firearms. The aim is to promote weapon destruction programmes in affected regions and financial support to victims of armed violence.

The first commercial items from the initiative are due to launch in September this year, and will include all sorts of partnerships with a variety of brands, including those in the fashion industry by turning the metal into jewellery, buttons and more.

Elsewhere, there were other winners in the fashion industry too – albeit more traditional in their campaigns than as purpose driven as this year’s headliners. Notably Kenzo picked up a number of accolades for its My Mutant Brain ad, including two golds, three silvers and four bronzes across the Film, Film Craft, Cyber and Entertainment for Music categories, as well as a Titanium Lion.

Meanwhile, H&M’s Come Together spot by Wes Anderson, featuring Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody on a train on Christmas Day, won two silver and three bronzes. And John Lewis’ Buster the Boxer got three silvers and three bronzes.

Sport of course picked up multiple titles once more. Nike scored a huge 13 Lions just in the Film and Film Craft categories alone, while also winning in Digital Craft, Integrated, Entertainment for Music and Design.

It was its Unlimited Stadium campaign from BBH that picked up the highest number however, winning four golds, five silvers and six bronzes across Design, Cyber, Promo and Activation, Outdoor, Creative Data and Entertainment. Created to launch its Lunar Epic Mid shoe, this was an interactive LED running track set up in the Philippines during the Olympics. It took the data of each runner on each lap, and turned it into a digital avatar they could then run against as they continued.

Head to head came Adidas of course, which picked up a Grand Prix for its Original is Never Finished campaign in the Entertainment for Music category, as well as three further bronzes for the same ad. Other accolades went to its Alexander Wang collaboration launch, its Adidas Odds initiative for the Paralympics and its Adidas Neo Snapchat campaign. Green Light Run, which enabled urban running in Tokyo, picked up four awards, and Breaking the Pattern with Adidas Glitch, which launched a football boot exclusively through a dedicated mobile app, collected five.

The North Face, Converse, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Under Armour also scooped awards, while others went to Amazon for its Tokyo Fashion Week opening, Marks & Spencer for its Mrs Claus film, Diesel for its Make Love Not Walls campaign and to Harvey Nichols and Havaianas for various efforts in print and publishing.

If we count Snap Inc’s Spectacles under the header of “wearables” then they also did a sterling job at the awards this year – picking up three golds across Design and Product Design, and silver and bronzes in Mobile.

And then there’s Ikea, as pictured top. Not a fashion retailer per se, but it took full advantage of a connection with luxury when Balenciaga sent out a blue bag on the runway earlier this year; one that looked distinctly similar to its own plastic carry-all it offers to shoppers.

The brand jumped on the social media conversation that was flowing around it, launching a campaign that helped consumers identify a “real FRAKTA bag”, which instantly went viral. The results saw over 165 million media impressions amounting to over $6m in earned media against zero ad dollars spent. It won a silver in PR and bronze Lions in Direct and Promo and Activation.

mobile social media

Six tips for nailing your chatbot content strategy as a competitive advantage for the future

Burberry's Facebook Messenger chatbot
Burberry’s Facebook Messenger chatbot

Chatbots have received somewhat of a mixed response since they hit the market at scale – both praised for the ease with which they can offer customer service for instance, yet critiqued for their lack of true intelligence.

This is something we’re working towards, according to Ben Parr, co-founder of chatbot building platform Octane AI, who spoke at Lions Innovation, a division of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, last week. “The technology for bots that are truly intelligent and personalised based on AI is just not there yet to be totally reliable 100% of the time, but in the future, as the tech evolves and improves, they will be,” he explained.

In the meantime, what’s important is to create an experience that is repeatable and reliable, he urged. Building an audience through such platforms now enables brands to be at the forefront of this space once we are there, he added, making it a competitive advantage for the future.

Head over to Forbes to read the six tips he gave for how to nail your chatbot content strategy on that basis.

Editor's pick film social media

Behind the emotion (and pressure) of the John Lewis Christmas ads

Buster the Boxer – John Lewis’ 2016 Christmas campaign

Emotional advertising is far more powerful than rational advertising, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. In fact, it’s twice as likely to generate profit, with that profit effect building over the years, based on the data.

There’s no better example of a brand that has achieved that than John Lewis, which year after year puts out a huge Christmas campaign that tugs on the heartstrings of the United Kingdom in a bid to kick off the trading season. Last year, Buster the Boxer trended globally within 45 minutes of launching – to date it has 65 million views.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, the team behind those efforts shared insights on what they’ve tried to achieve, what the pressure of doing so is like and just how important authenticity is in getting it right.

On starting out with ‘Always a Woman’ in 2010

James Murphy, founder and CEO of adam&eveDDB: “John Lewis has a unique place in the UK landscape – it’s admired and trusted. But there was a very clear problem – there was masses of trust, but not enough desire.. When you talked to people they say they love it and it’s fantastic, but they weren’t acting. So we thought, why don’t we try and tell and capture the feeling that customers have for the brand; the relationship.”

Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis: “I felt it was very powerful at that point as a storyline within the business. It felt like a sleeping giant of a brand… But it sells things that are inherently emotional – that you put in your home or that you wear. Always a Woman really did cause quite a stir when it broke.”

On the pressure to keep delivering ever since

Richard Brim, chief creative officer of adam&eveDDB: “The pressure is absolutely immense. There are two points to it; there’s the industry, but more importantly there’s the public. People start talking about it now – in the run up to it they start guessing the music, what it’s about, everyone you meet will suggest ideas and send letters. The biggest pressure is the fact that the country cares for it. It’s got this place of heralding the holiday season. When it drops, everyone is talking about it. That terrifies me. The industry I can deal with, but the public you can’t disagree with.

On the growth beyond just TV strategy

Inglis of John Lewis: “When we started in 2010 with Always a Woman, there was no social strategy, just a TV ad. Then we had the snowman [in The Journey], and started noticing social was playing a part. By the time we got to the Bear and the Hare [in 2013], we started doing products too. There was demand there. The purpose is not to over-commercialise it, or overleverage it, but we spend lots of time thinking about where else it can sit. We’ve extended into other areas like books, into stores and windows, we’ve had games and apps. That takes more effort than the film in a sense because we’ve got to keep it fresh for our audience and where they want to engage with it. That said, if we started with an idea that we can make merchandise from, we’d get it wrong – the idea of the ad still comes first.”

The Bear and the Hare campaign from John Lewis in 2013 included an audiobook
The Bear and the Hare campaign from John Lewis in 2013 included an audiobook

On the power of emotion

Brim of adam&eveDDB: “We’re very aware of the [power we’re working with]. There was a definite shift in the emotion we wanted to tap into last year with Buster the Boxer. With what was going on in the world, we realised maybe we needed to play with a different emotion; something a bit more fun and a bit more celebratory. It was a very conscious decision on that.”

Inglis of John Lewis: “We think very carefully about getting the right balance of hitting an emotional chord. We hold that tension very carefully. It can’t just be hype; it has to feel real. That is entirely instinct; there is no science to that.”

On competition and authenticity

Inglis of John Lewis: “[With five or six others now vying for best ad each Christmas], it’s certainly improved the quality of advertising in the UK, which can only be a good thing. There’s been some brilliant work done in the last few years. The key is that others don’t try and do ‘a John Lewis’ – it has to be a story that resonates; that’s true to their brand. [What we put out] has to be a reflection of what John Lewis as a business is. If it wasn’t, people would see through it.”

Murphy of adam&eveDDB: “You have to have certain values you can springboard off. You can’t perfume a pig.”

On the long-term effect on the business

Inglis of John Lewis: “[The Christmas campaign] drives the highest return of any of our marketing. We see profit of about £8 for every £1 spent. So it’s not just for fun, it’s commercial. But we also get an enduring impact; it rallies people within the business. It gets them excited and up for quite a long trading process. It has this corralling effect.”

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How Adidas takes inspiration from the software world

Adidas Originals x Alexander Wang collection, drop three, as captured by Juergen Teller
Adidas Originals x Alexander Wang collection, drop three, as captured by Juergen Teller

Adidas is a “brand in beta”, according to its global creative director, Paul Gaudio. Speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity today, he referred to the idea of operating via an open-source model appropriated from the technology world.

“We firmly believe the idea that we are a brand in beta. We are never finished. Instead of having all the answers, we prefer to come and ask questions,” he said about the near 70-year old brand. “It’s about constant reinvention… I like to talk about the idea that we’re on a journey. As a brand we’re a story, a narrative; it’s not a fixed thing.”

It’s on that basis the company launched its “Original is never finished” campaign for Adidas Originals earlier this year, which features the likes of Snoop Dogg through to basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and artist Petra Collins. They represent the idea of what it means to be a true original – the idea that things can be done multiple times over, that the brand is never finished. It’s set to a reworking of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

But this idea of exploring self-identity, of connecting closely with culture and community, and indeed the notion of open-source creativity, is also how Adidas approaches its collaborations.

“You can’t do everything inside a little walled garden… you have to bring ideas in from the outside. We do it with athletes, we do it with chemical companies… we know we can’t do this alone,” Gaudio added.

Athlete Stan Smith and fashion designer Alexander Wang were also on stage to discuss the way they have partnered with the brand.

The Adidas Originals x Alexander Wang collaboration was launched with a campaign that took inspiration from the reseller market, for instance. It secretly dropped in different cities around the world out the back of 17 trucks in trash bags as though the items were on the black market. The initiative led to 3 billion media impressions worldwide and the items selling out within one day.

“It was spot on, it was perfect; it captured everything I wanted to say about the collection,” said Wang. But why it worked was largely because of the openness he was met with at Adidas, he explained. “In all my partnerships, I have never been in a conversation that’s been so collaborative and open to ideas. From a creative point of view, I’ve always appreciated that.”

Gaudio added: “I ask myself all the time, ‘why bother?’ If we don’t allow someone like you to bring newness into the brand, what’s the point?”

It’s about releasing control with that open-source mentality working both internally and externally, he explained. “We have to enable creativity within the brand too – we have to create space for people to express themselves and chase their dreams… It’s about creating a framework and then leaving space for people to create; to take the brand to new levels. Good ideas rarely come from the top.”

This story first appeared on Forbes