No longer confined to creating advertising ideas, the next wave of creative minds have their sights sets far beyond simple communications, to broad-based solutions that bring together technology, marketing and behavior in innovative ways. This more holistic approach was very much in evidence among the winners of this year’s Future Lions awards.
Presented annually since 2006 by agency AKQA (newly acquired by WPP), the goal of the Future Lions is to challenge and showcase the next generation of ad stars by putting out a brief to “advertise a product from a brand in a way that couldn’t have been done five years ago, to an audience of your choosing” with added motivation to “create work that makes AKQA envious”.
This year’s winning work brought big-picture thinking to creative problems big and small, noble and novel, and spoke to the competition’s emphasis on forward-looking ideas for brands without media, technology or audience constraints.
“One thing that is very clear to me in the five winners is that none of them are campaigns, so to speak,” says AKQA chief creative officer Rei Inamoto. “It wasn’t about creating a message and distributing that message, but rather it was creating a system or a platform for behavior, whether as a tool to help people behave in certain ways, or the company or the brand to behave in a certain way.”
One of the more ambitious winning ideas is Quiksilver “Made By Waves.” Created by Patrik Beskow and David Lunde of Berghs School of Communication the idea revolves around creating energy from the very waves that surfers to power Quiksilver’s manufacturing. The environmentally-friendly solution would, in turn, help in stave off climate change, which threatens those very waves and marine ecosystem.
Meanwhile, “Post from Japan” for Visit Japan by Kristofer Salsborn and Rickard Beskow also of the Berghs School, aims to empower travelers to Japan to get their travel photos off of their phones and onto the internet by giving wifi credits each time someone posts a photo of Japan to Facebook. The idea is that, after the tsunami, the public perception of Japan was one of disaster. By easily allowing people to share their more human perspectives of the country, global awareness (and tourism) will improve.
Two of the other winning ideas focus on creating utility for people’s consumption and creation of content. For Penguin Soundtracks Lisa Zeitlhuber and Nicholas Partyka of Miami Ad School in Hamburg conceived of an idea that would increase interest in reading among those who choose film as their main form of cultural entertainment by adding filmic soundtracks to e-versions of Penguin books.
“Bing Automatic” for Microsoft Bing by Chris Sheldon and Marybeth Ledesma of VCU Brandcenter on the other hand, creates a system wherein people can perform online searches right from a variety of programs such as PowerPoint or Word—without typing in keywords—to help prevent the default behavior of using Google’s search engine. The idea earned Ledesma and Sheldon an encouraging meeting with a senior Microsoft exec.
On a more whimsical note, Florian Weitzel and Yvonne Truun of Miami Ad School Berlin built on the insight that Berlin is known for it’s outgoing party culture and created “Blackout Recorder” for Wasted German Youth, an app that once turned on tracks your moves, disables your phone for drunk dialing and basically helps you remember what the hell you did the night before.
Inamoto says that by creating a brief that stipulates the creation of something that couldn’t have been done five years ago is designed to help in move the industry forward. “There is a lot of emphasis on how do we create the future. If you ask people to come up with a TV idea or show us your best print idea, then automatically you are limiting their creativity. We were very conscious of creating a platform that had no restrictions in terms of categories and media,” he says, adding that something that was not possible five years prior could be as literal as technology, interpreting something old in a new way, or bringing to bear new cultural perspectives.
AKQA also announced the winner of ad school of the year (presented by Co.Create)—Miami Ad School Hamburg.