News & Views

Cannes Lions / Innovation and Creative Data Winners

by Chris Barth

Innovation /

Mapping technology startup what3words took home the Grand Prix in Innovation at the 2015 Cannes Lions Awards. The mapping scheme, which divides the globe into three-meter-by-three-meter squares and assigns a three-word address to each, was heralded for its systematic thinking.

'There's two sorts of creative thinking,' said jury president Nick Law, president of R/GA. 'There's more narrative, agency thinking and there's more systematic thinking. We chose something that was more representative of systematic thinking – of Silicon Valley thinking.'

The jury, composed of members from the advertising industry, the venture capital world and brands, looked at not only the craft and design of each entry, but its scalability, the defensibility of its market and technology, and its intellectual property ownership. They were impressed by the potential for what3words to bring addressability to hard-to-map areas like favelas and shanty towns, using a unique mapping system that is already applicable at a global scale.

Law heralded what3words' ability to tackle a complex problem with a systematic solution, calling the industry to task for overlooking the importance of innovating on a digital/structural level that might not be as catchy as a traditionally creative idea.

'Madison Avenue has had a hard time recognising that the people who came out of digital are creative,' said Law. 'They wouldn't think the same thing about an architect. If you ask any advertising exec "Do you think Rem Koolhaas or Frank Gehry is creative?" they would say, "Yes, of course he's creative." I think that sort of skillset is analogous to the best digital thinking: it's systematic and architectural; it's not temporal it's special; it's about looking at how things relate to each other and connections as opposed to how moments unfold.'

The Innovation jury awarded seven more lions to a variety of work. Taking home the trophies were Baidu Kuaisou's Smart Chopsticks, Optus Clever Buoy from M&C Saatchi Sydney and Panasonic ACH2O from Maruri Grey, Guayaquil. Startups Bioranger and Owlet, both graduates from R/GA's Connected Devices Accelerator, also took home Innovation Lions.

Creative Data /

In the inaugural year of Cannes Lions' Creative Data category, the jury – headed up by Y&R global CEO David Sable – chose not to award a Grand Prix, despite finding six entries worthy of a Gold lion.

'It wasn't because we were trying to make a political statement. We felt that we were inadequate in the first year of the event to pick out the one thing that was the category describer,' said Sable. 'In a category with 11 subcategories that are quite different, we just didn't feel adequate to make that decision. We felt there wasn't anything that was representative of everything.'

The jury awarded Gold lions to five campaigns in the public sector:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics' Run That Town, from Leo Burnett Sydney
  • SOS SMS from Grey Mexico for the Mexican Red Cross
  • Japan Sport Council's Reviving Legends, from Dentsu and Rhizomatiks, Tokyo
  • The 9/11 Memorial Museum, from Local Projects, New York
  • Change One Life's Twin Souls, from Y&R Moscow

The sole commercial campaign to earn a Gold Lion was Contagious favorite EA Madden NFL Giferator, from Heat, Grow and Google.

Part of the difficulty in judging the category in its first year, said Sable, derived from the fact that data is involved in nearly every aspect of modern advertising. 'Everything today uses data some way or another, but the key that we were looking for was whether the linkage to data was clear,' he said. 'We looked for things that made boring data compelling, personal data into living.'

Sable predicted that next year the category may shift slightly, with subcategories becoming further refined (and potentially streamlined). As the category grows stronger, he maintained, it will underline the fact that data is a necessary part of creativity. 'If you don't understand it, you're out of the industry,' he stressed. 'If you want to be a creative, you need to understand that data plays a role. Darwin is going to play a major role here, quite frankly. This is where the game has gone, and if you don't get it you're out.'