News & Views

Contagious Team: Cannes Predictions

by Contagious Team

One of the Contagious editorial team's favourite annual arguments, sorry, discussions, is selecting the work that we think is worthy of being awarded at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Here are the pieces that the editorial team would be fighting for if they were in a jury somewhere in a dark room deep under the Palais, and the reasons why we think this work should be leaving advertising's annual homage to creativity, brilliant work, and excess with a Gold Lion in the bag. 

Katrina Dodd / Senior Consultant

Conversation at Contagious inevitably includes its fair share of marketing buzzwordery, but for all our chat about touchpoints, mobile first, context, immersive experiences and – forgive me – brand storytelling, my pick is as analogue as they come. Chipotle’s Cultivating Thought programme took the brand’s most basic touchpoints – their paper cups and bags – and transformed (sorry) them from humble packaging into two-minute interludes with authors, thinkers and entertainers from Aziz Ansari to Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Each of these exclusive essays was illustrated by a different artist and contained not only food for thought, but actual burritos and coffee too. We get so hung up on our much-hyped addiction to screens that we lose sight of the fact that our hungry eyes seek out and home in on information and entertainment wherever it may be. This project celebrates that in a way that feels like a win for everyone involved.

Louise Potter / Writer

It’s already fetched Colenso BBDO a prestigious D&AD Black Pencil, and deservedly so. Pedigree’s K9FM, a radio station for pooches home alone, used a 'dog behaviour consultant' to get the content right, aired a pooch meditation spot, and even gave owners the chance to record a live shout-out to their pet. Utterly barking mad, and a shoe-in for the radio category, it shows the power of working to a channel’s strengths rather than mindlessly chasing after the latest thing. And if that hasn’t convinced you, just think of the endless pet puns. Cannes-nine special edition Contagious: coming soon.

Lucy Aitken / Senior Writer

Virtual reality will be all over Cannes this year: Volvo Reality, Clouds Over Sidra and Samsung LifeLIVE are all in with a chance of bagging a Lion or two. But for me, it’s Masquerade from Heineken-owned Dos Equis that stands out. This three-minute Oculus Rift experience plunged people into the midst of a flamboyant party so they could sample the most interesting man’s Hugh Hefner-esque lifestyle. Through Havas Worldwide, production company m ss ng p eces and experiential shop Mirrorball, all in New York, people could mingle with magicians, flame-throwers and fortune-tellers who reacted to them in real time. And for those who couldn’t experience it first-hand, 27 million people participated in an alternative interactive experience to see what all the fuss was about. While cynics are quick to dismiss virtual reality as gimmicky, Masquerade proved its potential, not just from a brand experience perspective, but also from a business perspective, helping sales of Dos Equis rise by 18% year-on-year.

Alex Jenkins / Editor

Personally, I think Transavia's SnackHoliday campaign is all kinds of smart. First of all, you've got a low-cost French airline selling airline tickets as snack packaging in supermarkets and vending machines – e.g. a €35 ($38) packet of crisps doubles as a ticket to Barcelona and a €40 ($43) bag of gummi bears gives you a flight to Lisbon. Not only is that reasonably PR-worthy, but it also reframes the flights as an affordable impulse purchase – something so cheap that you could pop it in your basket as a treat. That's pretty clever. And with only a few destinations to choose from, there's no in-store choice paralysis. Finally, it provides Transavia's potential customers with new places to buy and, crucially, ones where there are no competitors. Whereas a lot of budget air ticket purchases will be made through comparison sites, I don't see a lot of other airlines selling flights in the snack aisle. Of course, you could fire up your phone to see if there's a cheaper price online but, really? Standing in a checkout queue? It's €35  just get on with life. However, with most of SnackHoliday's creativity under the hood rather than on show, its potential to scoop Lions may be reduced if the juries take a similar ‘let’s just get on with life’ attitude to judging 37,000 submissions.

Raakhi Chotai / Writer

Quirky Swedish underwear brand Bjorn Borg's First Person Lover is a love-themed shoppable advergame where you dress your avatar in clothes from the brand’s Summer collection and run around hugging ‘haters’, liberating them of their bad attitudes. On top of the fact that the game’s promotional video features Frankie goes to Hollywood’s The Power of Love (admittedly an important factor when making this choice) the campaign boosted online sales by 40% year-on-year. What’s not to love?

Paul Kemp Robertson / Co-founder & Editorial Director

It’s safe to say that Empowerment will be the red thread that runs through the brash, spangly metaphorical party frock of Cannes Lions this year. In an ideal world, there should be no need for Glass Lions or brilliantly emotive docu-mercials reminding people with two X chromosomes that they have just as much power and potential as those with a Y. That’s why, for me, this year’s Honey Maid Wholesome will be Magnum’s Be True to Your Pleasure campaign, created by Lola Madrid.

At our events and workshops, Contagious often refers to the Bias Against Creativity report by Cornell University’s ILR School, which examines why 'decision-makers routinely reject creative ideas even when espousing creativity as an important goal'. The hypothesis is simple human psychology: 'The more novel an idea, the more uncertainty can exist about whether an idea is practical, useful, error-free and reliably reproduced… Uncertainty is an aversive state which people feel a strong motivation to diminish and avoid.' All the more reason, then, to applaud a marketing behemoth like Unilever, accountable as it is to conservative shareholders, for shining a courageous spotlight on ‘three inspirational drag queens’. Launched at the Cannes Film Festival in May and set to a haunting version of Rhianna’s Umbrella by Mechanical Bride, the Be True to Your Pleasure campaign adopts a liberal, inclusive stance and, according to Sophie Galvani, global vice president for Magnum is intended to show that ‘it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you take pleasure in; this film has been created to inspire and dare you to seize it.’

Forget about the trans-fats, just revel in the fact that we now live in a society where a company protecting an annual revenue of €48bn is happy to fly the transgender flag.

Patrick Jeffrey / Senior writer

Cannes is all about rewarding bold creative risks that disrupt the status quo and represent the future of our industry, right? Well, try this for size. A government agency (yawn) engages teenagers (who hate everything and everyone) in a conversation about DRUGS by using a nascent app that’s renowned for having an unbelievably high creative benchmark. Now add the fact that the content was actually good – so good that 98% of people watched until the very end – and you have the makings of a truly brave idea. New Zealand Transport Agency may not have been dominating pre-Cannes water cooler conversations, but if the judges are going to reward work that reflects the prevailing themes, channels and platforms of 2015 (and beyond), then Tinnyvision ticks every box. Plus, they managed to get the phrase ‘shat my pants’ into the case study video.

Emily Hare / Managing Editor

Feminism has been a much-debated topic this year, and brands have been getting in on the act to support and enable women to achieve their potential. While Always' Like A Girl, through Leo Burnett, Canada, is a sure-fire tip to pick up trophies, not least the inaugural Glass Lion, created to challenge gender bias, another brand putting gender equality on the map is Sport England.

This Girl Can competes with athletics big spenders such as Nike and sharp music videos with a compelling short film showing girls of all shapes and sizes exercising, sweating, struggling and triumphing. Sport England’s research showed that 75% of women aged 14 to 40 in the UK would like to be more active, and this film strikes the right balance of empowering and fun, with the view counts and PR coverage to prove it.

Chloe Markowicz / Deputy Editor

Most charity campaigns are designed to pull at your heartstrings but if I cried at every schmaltzfest that we come across in our editorial meetings at Contagious, I wouldn’t be able to get much work done. Still, I admit that the Ad Council’s Love Has No Labels PSA had me wiping away a tear or two. It’s not often that advertising can inspire such a visceral reaction in me (I’ve got a heart of stone), and that’s why it’s one of my favourite campaigns of the year.

This online film, created by R/GA, New York, was viewed a staggering 110 million times across Facebook and YouTube since March. It’s often tricky to know what makes one film go viral over another. But Karen Nelson-Field, senior researcher at the University of South Australia who has written extensively on the subject, has proven that films that provoke a strong physiological response are more likely to be shared. And Love Has No Labels definitely fits that description. Non-profits are ineligible for Cannes Grand Prix (besides the Grand Prix for Good), which is why Ad Council doesn’t stand much chance at scooping serious hardware, but I’m sure it’ll result in a few jurors reaching for the Kleenex.

Arif Haq / Senior Consultant

It will appeal to the fully range of jury members, not only to the grand dames of the industry who will revel in the good old-fashioned excellence in film craft that the work exudes from all pores, but also to the technology-obsessed digital terrorists who will drone on about the fact that it’s a piece of work that could only exist on the web rather than the boring old telly box in the corner of the room. And to the obviously masterful craft you can add a single drop of planning brilliance; Staking a brand claim on the viewer’s desktop by transposing the ‘R’ button from the car to the keyboard is like all my favourite advertising ideas: utterly obvious to all the adults, but only after one naive child-like brain has pointed it out to them.

Kristina Dimitrova / Researcher/Writer

One of retailers’ biggest challenges is marrying on- and offline successfully. It’s rare that you go into a store and see anything digital beyond perhaps a screen showing a brand’s latest collection. This makes C&A’s Fashion Lock campaign a stand out example.

For the launch of Francisco Costa’s collection for C&A the brand displayed five exclusive pieces on locked hangers in its flagship store. The combination to unlock them was a secret number of Facebook likes. When the right combination was reached every shopper who liked the item received a key and QR code alerting them about it. The first woman to get to store and unlock the item by scanning the QR code won the exclusive outfit.

Using social to raise awareness and amass potential shoppers, the launch of Francisco Costa’s collection became a standalone event with customers racing to the shop. With retailers struggling to woo people in brick and mortar stores, The Fashion Lock shows how technology can be used to create an integrated and engaging offline experience.

Kate Hollowood / Researcher/Writer

To get more than 9 million views for a film about dentures is no mean feat. That is why my top choice is denture adhesive brand Fixodent’s Saving Aslan campaign, although I admit my penchant for furry animals played a part. The film tells the story of how the brand provided resources for Aslan the lion to have his rotting teeth repaired while demonstrating his amazing bond with sanctuary owner Kevin Richardson. By thinking more holistically about dental care, Fixodent has found a compelling story about teeth that people actually want to share. It also shows that the brand understands the emotional and physical impact of losing your gnashers, a strikingly different tone from functional and clinical category norms.

Dan Southern / Senior Strategist

On the basis that around 33 smiley, upbeat and downright hilarious (in capital letters if the editor had allowed) airline safety videos will probably be entered, I’m hoping that the juries give some recognition to Virgin America’s unnerving Blah Airlines. Creative agency Eleven Inc recreated a 6-hour flight from San Francisco to Newark airports using a cast of puppets with haunting, vacant stares in a stale, beige cabin. The point? To hold a mirror up to business passengers who, acting on autopilot, stick to the same dull, unprogressive airline brands flight after flight. The epic YouTube video is packed with moments that flyers will recognise (and cringe at for putting up with), and is subtly peppered with triggers to find out more about Virgin’s forward-thinking offering. With advertising seemingly obsessed with boosting Kleenex sales these days, it’s great to see a brand willing to put darker and more surreal work to good use. Other elements of the campaign bring Blah to life further (such as Twitter and Instagram feeds, microsite and fax – lol  number) but they don’t quite match the film’s wit. And yes, someone has filmed themselves watching the entire thing.

Contagious is proud to be an official Media Supporter of Cannes Lions & Lions Innovation 2015.
Visit the Cannes Lions site for more information and to purchase a pass.