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Cannes Lions 2018: the award winning campaigns to know

Trash Isles' official currency, 'Debris'
Trash Isles’ official currency, ‘Debris’

At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the most awarded campaigns echoed the sentiment that consumers want to engage with brands with a higher sense of purpose.

Sustainability and the environment came out top in that regard, with two initiatives scooping five of the top prizes. But other concepts continued a broader marketing focus particularly relevant to those in the consumer retail fields, from playing with the rules of what conventional advertising looks like, to evolving the notion of online and offline commerce in new ways.

Here, we highlight the ones to know from this year’s festival:

Stories with purpose

The idea of purpose and its continuing impact on creativity isn’t new to Cannes Lions. While the big talk on stage this year was around how brands can stand for something authentic all the while driving true action, award winners throughout the week highlighted some particularly innovative ways to do so. 

The small nation of Palau took home not one, but three Grand Prix awards  (Direct, Sustainable Development Goals and Titanium), for Palau Pledge, for instance, a campaign that asked tourists visiting the Pacific Island to sign a pledge to protect its environment. Those arriving in the country now have their passports stamped with a pledge to be considerate of the environment they are visiting. The campaign extends further with a video playing on every flight arriving, and the nation’s Ministry of Education creating a program to educate their children on sustainability.

Meanwhile, Trash Isles, a campaign partnership between Plastic Oceans (a plastics pollution organization) and media company LADbible, also took home two of this year’s top awards – the Grand Prix for PR and for Design. It did so for its aim to highlight the problem of plastics in the ocean by registering the patch of trash as its own country, including a flag, (recycled) passport and currency, and then taking the concept to the United Nations.

The idea was that as soon as the area was registered as a country, people would start taking the problem seriously. Within the first week the country had 100,000 people signed up to become citizens, making it the 26th smallest country in the world – honorary citizens include former US Vice President, Al Gore, and Dame Judi Dench.

This notion of purpose and sustainability also trickled down to fashion where Lacoste won a Gold award in the Design category for the way in which it played with its iconic logo in a bid to help raise awareness about species’ conversation. The limited edition “Save our Species” collection it created, saw the crocodile logo it is known for replaced with 10 of the world’s most endangered creatures. To add a level of urgency, the number of polo shirts available for each species corresponded to the number of them known to remain in the wild.

Rewriting the rules
adidas x Alexander Wang
adidas x Alexander Wang

The second trend this year came from brands challenging public perception of what is known about them – from remixing their visual identity, to speaking to such niche audiences that they risked alienating a majority.

Nike has particularly played in that field by tapping into niche cultures with its Nothing Beats a Londoner campaign, which took home a Grand Prix in the awards’ new category, Social & Influencer. This initiative honed in on London youth culture with an energetic spot that pays homage to urban living, highlighting how challenging it is to practice sports in the city. The campaign was well received as an anthem to young brand fans who recognized many of the 258 athletes and influencers featured in the full three-minute piece.

Meanwhile, Diesel’s Deisel launch, which popped up in New York’s Chinatown with a series of real ‘fake’ goods, took home Gold in the Outdoor category. The campaign showcased the brand’s sense of humor, which has been a part of its DNA since its inception, while modernizing it for a younger generation who is keen to tap into irony and subversion.

The Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang season two launch was also noted by the way it took inspiration from underground culture to create a shopping chatbot, in doing so taking home Bronze in another new category at this year’s awards – Creative E-Commerce. Consumers had to text a number found on billboards across the city to begin communications with the bot and complete their purchase. Items were then home delivered by bike couriers wearing the collection head-to-toe. The idea of bootlegging retail follows on from the collaboration’s season one launch, in which shoppers could only purchase items off the back of a truck, and then carried them home in trash bags.

Retail 3.0

As retail giants including Amazon and Alibaba set the benchmark for what a good retail experience is, this year’s winners from Cannes also brought differentiation by navigating between creating learning experiences in brick-and-mortar, to playing up to the consumer’s digital nature.

As previously covered, Apple took home the Grand Prix in the Brand Experience & Activation category for its Today at Apple programme, which hosts over 18,000 in-store classes globally a week. On-stage at Cannes Lions, Angela Ahrendts, SVP of retail at Apple, described the retail spaces as Apple’s biggest product, explaining: “Retail’s not dying, but it has to evolve, it has to continue to move – and I think it has to serve a bigger purpose than just selling, because anybody can do that faster, cheaper.”

The Creative E-Commerce category inevitably also brought relevancy here, with Xbox taking home the Grand Prix for its “The Fanchise Model” project, a store that allowed gaming fans to not only design and buy their own controllers, but earn commission through subsequent sales to their peers. Users who customized their own controller could claim ownership of it and share their artwork on social channels and forums. By co-creating with consumers, the brand encouraged a sense of ownership and opened up the conversation to a much bigger story that spoke to their fans’ lifestyles.

Nike’s AR Jordan launch on Snapchat otherwise picked up a Gold in this new category. The campaign, in which fans could purchase limited edition sneakers on Snapchat and get them delivered in under two hours, reached 2.7 unique users and 9.7m lens views, according to agency R/GA. The activation featured four major elements: augmented reality through the Snapchat partnership, 3D modelling of Michael Jordan, mobile commerce and lastly, express delivery fulfilled by Darkstore. Together, they created a fleeting experience that saw the sneakers sell out in 23 minutes.

Technology’s impact

Other notable Grand Prix winners highlighted the power of artificial intelligence and the use of data to spread a bigger message. Creative Data winner “JFK Unsilenced” by The Times UK, analyzed 831 speeches by the former USA president to create a AI-powered speech 50 years after he was due to talk at an event before getting killed in Dallas, Texas.

Similarly the ALS Association took home the top honor in the Good category for giving Pat Quinn, the person behind the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge”, his voice back through using a bank of audio recordings to create an artificial voice. Elsewhere in Colombia, the Ministry of Communications and Technology took home the Grand Prix for Innovation for allowing people in remote areas – who only have access to legacy phones – to call a phone line and ask questions to a Google voice assistant, thus connecting them to the Internet and wider pool of information.

Unlike public perception and debate about the threat of AI to humankind, it is quickly becoming clear that for advertising, the technology is more friend than foe. As the majority of this year’s winners show, deploying technologies can only serve to enhance connections, and often add an additional layer of emotion between brand and viewer.

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business Campaigns Editor's pick sustainability

In-depth: The big takeaways from Cannes Lions 2018

Cannes Lions 2018
Cannes Lions 2018

Pivotal societal movements from gender equality and diversity to environmental sustainability, have been a part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for many years, but there was a greater sense of urgency and action tied to their delivery for 2018.

Beyond the talk

It’s all too easy to step on stage – onto the influential platform that Cannes Lions represents – and talk about a need for change. A need for the industry to be more inclusive, to represent women in positive roles or to bring about a sense of brand purpose that will shift mindsets across consumer groups at large. But it’s another thing altogether to really put that into action.

In a panel focused on female empowerment, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, said the reason we’re still talking about the same old things is because of the fact progress is frustratingly slow. In a recent review of 40,000 ads, for instance, 29% negatively or inaccurately portrayed women in some way due to objectification, stereotyping or some kind of diminished role.

The landscape is changing, he said, but not fast enough. “There are some good examples, and we should feel good about that, but we know it’s not enough. I am optimistic however. We are getting close to that tipping point. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements changed the narrative forever. So let’s double down, and come together to be agents of change to achieve gender equality in the creative world.”

What’s key to driving this, he said, is seeing equality behind the camera, and throughout the entire creative pipeline. We can’t expect equality in the creative output until we have equality in the creative input, he explained.

Pritchard further highlighted that getting this right is also impactful on business results. Gender equal ads perform 10% better in trust and equity ratings, and 26% higher in terms of sales growth, he noted.

Beyond the trend

Driving change or action was also applied to the diversity conversation this year. Much like with gender equality, the focus here was on getting to the point of not needing to discuss it as a key subject at such an event anymore.

Said Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief: “For the future, I want to see the marginalized, normalized… I don’t think we’re doing enough, but we’re all here doing our best. It will never be done until we’re not having this conversation anymore, until we’re not talking about diversity.”

Supermodel Naomi Campbell suggested that we’re currently at crunch time as to whether this diversity “trend” has sticking power. It’s got to be more than just a hot topic, she noted.

In an interview that dove into how she spent her early career being paid significantly less than her white counterparts, she explained: “I’m giving diversity another six months to see if it’s a trend, or something that’s here to stay and really change.”

Beyond purpose

Indeed, when something is deemed merely a trend, there’s also risk for brands of being perceived as jumping on the bandwagon should there not be authenticity in their approach. Having “brand purpose” or brands that “stand for something” are fellow trendy phrases, but it’s only through longstanding values that any such focus can ever ring true, speakers agreed.

The current era is a battle for truth, which is what’s placing trust at an all-time low for consumers, explained Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, which publishes the annual Trust Barometer. “The idea for big brands has to be how do we become part of this ecosystem pushing change? Beyond the idea of purpose is the notion that somehow we’re relevant, and pushing for better,” he commented.

Patagonia hit the stage with an exploration of its ongoing focus on the environment and active support of a better planet, on that note. That wasn’t something that happened overnight however, but a program of belief in the company established over a 20-year period, the brand’s European marketing director, Alex Weller, explained.

What’s key right now, he said however, is that consumers want to take action themselves. “In what increasingly feels like a stormy world, people are looking for hope. They’re looking for it in grassroots organizations, and increasingly in brands…. People are asking what can I do, how can I help, how can I take action.”

What the team realized was that if it really wanted to scale the movement, it needed to get out of the way a bit. “That bottleneck was us,” Weller said. The Patagonia Action Works platform, a microsite intended to facilitate interactions between like-minded activists, was the resulting initiative. “The end goal is that we and our community get to participate in things we care about to actually take action. To go from giving a shit to actually doing something,” he explained.

Once again, proof lies in the pudding. Weller explained that Patagonia has been growing at between 15-20% year-on-year. “We believe there is correlation between our movement building and our commercial performance. And the more direct correlation is, that the more we grow, the more we can do,” he noted.

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e-commerce Editor's pick social media

Cannes Lions 2018: Glossier on how digital allows for individual connections at scale

Glossier
Glossier

Long-established legacy brands should do away with market studies and focus groups, says Glossier president and COO Henry Davis, and instead leverage digital technology to ask questions at scale.

Speaking on stage at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, he said instead of getting a handful of consumers in a room with double-mirrors, they should be creating “pockets of intimacy” with individuals or the subgroups they exist in online.

“In 2018 you have the ability to ask questions at scale.. By changing the channel you can change the offering to suit the consumer of today. So many legacy brands have gotten lazy on these channels and just keep reproducing… We’re seeing increasingly they’re realizing they need to know their customer.”

At the crux of the direct-to-consumer beauty brand’s success, is this focus on maintaining a continuous conversation with consumers from the get-go, he explained.

Since its inception as beauty blog Into the Gloss in 2012, founder Emily Weiss tapped into a fanbase to understand what elements would make a dream product – from consistency to color range. This helped inform the launch of Glossier and its first batch of cult products. It then quickly catapulted the brand as the one to watch among the Gen Z generation.

That collaborative nature now seeps into every consumer-facing aspect of the brand, from how well one of its products photographs, to what influencers it features on its popular Instagram feed, Davis explained.

Inspiration for new products or campaigns always come from an amalgamation of channels and references, but one of the first questions the brand asks itself, is: “If this was an Instagram post, what would the comments on it be?”

Content, Davis believes, should always ask a question, thus creating a “beautiful virtuous circle” to engage people with. The brand even does traditional outdoor advertising for that reason. The analog nature of a billboard, he explains, works perfectly for the brand because it targets younger consumers who themselves are content creators. Putting a billboard up is not the end of the project, but the beginning of a conversation – it allows fans to share it in their own way, he added.

Such is the importance of content – beyond the long-standing popularity of Into the Gloss and its Instagram page – that David said the next step is to vertically integrate the funnel of communications, which is currently owned by social media companies.

The only way to build a brand, he said, is to take it one step further and own more of the customer journey. Ultimately, he feels, the stronger the relationship, the stronger the loyalty. “Customers need to be stakeholders, they need to be a part of the creating of the product and eventually, sales,” he noted.

During the conversation, Davis also talked about how being a direct-to-consumer brand allows for the R&D team to work at its own pace, without the pressures or constraints of being rushed by a retail partner. This has the immense benefit of enabling the company to be more creative and make decisions based solely on the customer, he expained.

It is with that mindset that the brand has also opened its first retail store in Los Angeles, where a third of the space is dedicate to the “Canyon” room, an experiential space that replicates Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, complete with desert sounds that customers can immerse themselves in. This goes against the long-established brick-and-mortar rule of products per square footage but, as Davis said: “By not trying to sell things, you end up selling things.”

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Campaigns mobile technology

Cannes Lions 2018: Ikea’s latest AR app creates ingenious way to reuse packaging

#IKEAtoybox
#IKEAtoybox

Ikea has launched another augmented reality app, this time one that enables its flatpack packaging to become real-life toys for kids.

The #IKEAtoybox initiative sees AR used to determine what potential toys could be made from the amount of cardboard available, and then gives users the instructions on how to do so. The result is everything from rockets to castles, butterfly wings, sharks and beyond.

Announced at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, in partnership with Wunderman and Kantar Consulting, the project went from concept to delivery in just five weeks.

“It’s about creating endless amounts of imagination based on the actual size of the packaging you have,” said Daniel Bonner, global CCO at Wunderman.

The idea for it came off the back of over 15 years-worth of insights from Mumsnet. That data showed that one of the largest concerns from parents surrounds child development – second only to childbirth. Further research also highlighted that 50% of parents say they struggle to find the ideas to bring creative play into the home.

The app is still a prototype at this stage, but will be rolled out to consumers shortly. Ikea is also said to be looking at how to open up the project to a wider audience thereafter. Given its broader focus on sustainability and reducing waste as an organization, it’s considering how to open this AR app up so packaging from other retailers could also be utilized in the same way.

For more about Ikea’s sustainability mission, listen in to this episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast with Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainable and healthy living at the brand.

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Editor's pick Retail technology

Cannes Lions 2018: Apple’s Angela Ahrendts on the human side of retail

Angela Ahrendts of Apple at Cannes Lions
Angela Ahrendts of Apple at Cannes Lions

“We decided it was important that the largest tech company in the world, makes the largest investment in humans in the world,” said Angela Ahrendts, SVP of retail at Apple, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, with regards to her ‘Today at Apple’ initiative.

The scheme, which picked up the Brand Experience & Activation Grand Prix at the festival’s awards last night, sees 18,000 events held in Apple stores around the world every week. The focus particularly is on education, both in terms of helping consumers understand technology, but also the creative or liberal arts.

This links back to something founder Steve Jobs said in 2011: “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

As a result, the teams at retail had to evolve too. While Ahrendts has been leading a mass redesign of the stores to what are now referred to as “town squares”, in a bid to drive a sense of community, she has also been rethinking who services those spaces.

The renowned Apple Geniuses continue to exist, but so too do new “creative pros” as a result. These are to the liberal arts what the genius is to technology, she explained. Today there are 3,500 of them worldwide, who all teach everything from photography to art, music and design skills in store.

“These people are our secret sauce,” Ahrendts explained. “This is something Apple has, and Amazon or Alibaba doesn’t: people on the front line.” What’s key is that they are hired for their empathy, rather than their ability to sell. In fact, no one who works at Apple is on any quotas or commission, which is also something that goes back to Steve Jobs’ original vision.

“He told all of the original employees when he opened the first Apple stores, that they weren’t allowed to sell, that their job was to enrich lives and they had to do so through the lens of education,” Ahrendts outlined.

That objective is currently rolling out worldwide, with Apple upping the size of its retail footprint (doubling and tripling some of the existing ones in the process) in order to make space for the boardrooms and educational forums accordingly. Upcoming new openings include a legacy theatre renovation in Milan, a five-storey flagship on the Champs Élysées in Paris, and a reworking of the Washington Carnegie Library in DC.

Retail isn’t dying, said Ahrendts, but it’s evolving fast and it’s only through focusing on human needs that you can today survive. Apple dedicates 40% of its staff hours to service and support and a third of its square footage, she noted. All of that is aiming to cement the notion of the company being primarily a “human” business.

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Editor's pick technology

Cannes Lions 2018: How Samsung is focusing on the sweet spot between brand, tech and people

Samsung
Samsung

In the end it’s not about the technology itself, but the outcome it delivers, said Samsung’s global CMO, YoungHee Lee, on stage at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week.

Speaking about whether tech would be the downfall or saviour of creativity, Lee highlighted that Samsung’s bigger mission is to hit the sweet spot between brand, tech and people.

To further enforce that point, Lee presented the company’s three major trends that it believes will shape this new era of transformation:

  • Personal empowerment: As title and money begin to lose importance, consumers are seeking to know what makes them better personally. Tech in this case will enable people to achieve their personal goals.
  • People demanding for brands to take a stand: As a result of consumer introspection and the search for a sense of purpose, brands, Lee urged, need to demonstrate they share their consumers’ perspectives of the world.
  • People seeing tech as a force for good: The way consumers are experience tech is different, as a result of being better informed, better entertained, and better connected with friends and family. Technology is changing the lives of people for the better, she explained, and it is a brand’s responsibility to demonstrate that and behave responsibly.

Emphasizing technology as a vehicle for human transformation and creativity is key because tech has and always was about human change, Lee said. Her advice to marketers in the room was to live in the intersection of tech and humanity. This is particularly important because within 10 years of the first smartphone coming to market, there are now 2.6 billion people connected to the internet, 84% of which are on mobile.

With every consumer now considering themselves a content creator – in the case of professional YouTubers, a one-man media company – Samsung hopes to exist in the space that enables those behaviors, as well as pushing for the good of humankind as a whole.

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data e-commerce product social media

Cannes Lions 2018: Pinterest 100 goes physical with FabFitFun trending product box

The Pinterest Box
The Pinterest Box

Pinterest has teamed up with women’s lifestyle brand, FabFitFun, to launch a product box filled with trending goods as identified in the Pinterest 100 list.

The “Pinterest Box”, revealed at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, brings the biggest Pinterest items to life from across the beauty, style, wellness and food categories, all based on global data.

“At FabFitFun, we see our boxes as your favorite Pinterest board come to life and delivered to your door four times a year,” said Katie Rosen Kitchens, co-founder and editor-in-chief of FabFitFun. “We’re also a data driven company that relies heavily on consumer feedback, so the synergy with Pinterest is a no-brainer partnership for us. We combined their industry leading trend forecasting with the power of our merchandising and data science to create a box that features some amazing products that we know are going to become instant favorites.”

The Pinterest Box
The Pinterest Box

Products include a Pier 1 Imports sage vase, Tarte lifted sweatproof mascara, The Jetset Diaries passport case and luggage tag duo and more.

“Pinterest is filled with billions of ideas of what people want to do in their lives and when we look at what’s trending we can often see the next big thing,” said Vikram Bhaskaran, head of market development at Pinterest. “With our partnership with FabFitFun, we can bring these new trends across major lifestyle categories such as food, fashion and beauty to life through the box and we’re excited to see people give them all a try.”

The box is available for purchase on FabFitFun.com.

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Editor's pick technology

Cannes Lions 2018: L’Oréal announces AR-enabled, live-streamed digital beauty assistants

L'Oréal's Lubomira Rochet
L’Oréal’s Lubomira Rochet

L’Oréal shoppers will soon be able to interact with beauty assistants via live video chat enhanced with a layer of augmented reality, as demonstrated at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Launching later this year, the experience means that shoppers using L’Oréal-owned beauty brand NYX’s app, will be able to book live streamed sessions with in-store assistants and receive a one-to-one service similar to what they would get at a physical beauty counter.

AR in this case will enable the assistants to show customers what make-up, such as lipstick or eyeshadow, would look like on their face and recommend products accordingly. That is made possible thanks to the acquisition of AR startup Modiface earlier this year, and is a first indication of what else will follow from the partnership.

Speaking on stage with Modiface founder, Parham Aarabi, L’Oréal’s chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet, said: “What we are doing with those technologies is to really mimic and recreate this really personal relationship you have with a beauty assistant at the counter. She looks at you, understands you, has more (makeup) experience. You get into a really personal conversation so you can have a really personalized recommendation. This is exactly what we want to do with our AR experience.”

Within the experience consumers will be able to purchase products and book upcoming appointments. The service is expected to be rolled out in 65 countries and to other L’Oréal-owned beauty brands, following the launch with NYX.

L’Oréal AR digital assistant experience

In a further conversation on stage with YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, Rochet added that the acquisition of Modiface, which is the group’s first in the tech field, was a strategic one as the company truly believes AR and artificial intelligence are the future of the industry.

Rochet also expanded on how a customer-centric strategy is informing everything that the company does – from the aforementioned digital assistant experience, to understanding how beauty fanatics consume content online. This insight informs everything from R&D through to communications accordingly, she explained.

Paying close attention to searches and comments on YouTube videos, for instance, helps better understand what the potential customer’s concerns and beauty goals are when developing product, while from a communications perspective, social listening allows L’Oréal to tailor its language to better relate to how its audience already speaks about its products.