Massively viral-earned media blockbusters, real-time culture bombs, and socially conscious gestures will feature heavily among the big winners at the International Festival of Creativity (aka the International Festival of Advertising, aka the Cannes Lions), which kicks off June 16.
It’s assured that videos like Metro Trains’s “Dumb Ways To Die” and Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” will win, and Red Bull’s gargantuan space jump project certainly should, but it’s slightly less easy to predict in which category (for award show purposes, is Red Bull Stratos media? Innovation? Titanium? Brand Content? PR? Design? Yes).
We’ve noted here before that Cannes has become a festival of categories as much as anything else. Which is fine for the event (Cannes is a business, after all, and more categories mean more entries). But categorizing ideas is less and less relevant in the real marketing world, where the premium is on developing total brand experiences and all the products, services, ads, technologies and ideas that contribute to that goal act as one.
This year, Cannes launched the “Innovation Lions," intended to “honor the technology and innovation which lead to the creative idea being possible.” A jury led by Droga5 founder David Droga will award “the most pioneering forms of technology including, but not limited to, apps, tools, programmes, hardware, products, and other radical software which have been developed to help put into practice the creative excellence in communications.”
While Cannes has certainly honored “apps, tools, and programmes” before (several years ago, the festival launched the Titanium Lion, designed to recognize the new forms of work that refused to be bound by traditional ad categories), the new Innovation Lion seems to be designed to give more recognition to the ideas that aren’t communications and to the tech platforms that underlie the communications initiatives that Cannes has traditionally cited.
While the shortlist for the Innovation Lions features boundary-pushing ad work, like IBM’s "A Boy and His Atom," a film made from atoms, it’s interesting to note that several of the finalists represent the entrepreneurial tech efforts of agencies. These are products developed not for a specific brand but as self-driven ventures. These entries include Thunderclap, the social amplification platform created out of Droga5's tech arm, DeDe and The Barbarian Group’s Cinder, an open-source "toolbox" for programming graphics, audio, video, networking, image processing, and computational geometry.
This has been one of the more interesting developments in the ad world—the emergence of the agency tech unit, whether functioning as a stand-alone company or as a department, that looks to meld tech development and the agency’s traditional strengths: human behavior and marketing.
In the slide show above, some of the other brand creativity highlights that will capture top awards at Cannes.