An animated film about avoidable death, an emotional experiment in women’s self-image, and a well-crafted social film loomed large at the 60th Cannes Lions, winning nine of the available 17 Grand Prix awards across a blooming number of categories.
Metro Trains’s "Dumb Ways To Die," a cheerful animated music video that delivers a safety message in an original, entertaining way, won a record-breaking five Grand Prix in the Direct, PR, Radio, Film, and Integrated categories. The film was created by McCann Australia in Melbourne—the song was written by agency ECD John Mescall—and animated by Julian Frost. The campaign also included a radio execution, a gaming app, and an iTunes release of the breezily morbid song. Dove "Real Beauty Sketches" from Ogilvy Brazil, an emotional message about women’s self-esteem, was a cowinner of the Film Grand Prix.
While in the past award shows like Cannes would often cite well-made campaigns that perhaps had little reach outside of ad circles, the Dove and Metro Trains campaigns were cases of the audiences of the world having spoken first and awards juries following suit—both were big viral hits. "Dumb Ways" was an instant sensation and has been viewed over 50 million times on YouTube. Dove’s Sketches has been called (by its makers) the most viral ad ever, with over 115 million online views.
Intel/Toshiba’s "The Beauty Inside" earned Grand Prix in the Cyber, Film, and Branded Content categories. The project took the form of an episodic film, directed by Sundance Jury Prize winner Drake Doremus, about a man who woke up as a different person each day. The project had an integral social layer—viewers could audition for a part in the film via Facebook.
Jurors praised the campaign for being "really social at its core" and "really beautiful" and cited the integral role of the brands involved. But the success of the project is also a signifier of a growing sophistication and quality in this category. Where past award winners may have earned their nods for novelty—for being the first to use a platform or technique—campaigns like "The Beauty Inside" represent a leap forward in execution—it’s a film series that a real person out in the world would watch based on its merits as a story.
The brand content category was also interesting for what didn’t win. Conspicuous for its absence was Red Bull’s game-changing Stratos project—perhaps the year’s most ambitious—and famous—brand content initiative (and one that, like "Dumb Ways," make categories seem arbitrary). Red Bull confirmed with us that the company doesn’t enter the Cannes Lions—focusing instead on shows like the Sports Emmys, where they feel the content belongs.
This year also saw the introduction of the "Innovation" Lion, a category designed to highlight tech and tools behind marketing. With several of the short list picks and the Grand Prix —won by The Barbarian Group’s Cinder software platform—the festival has acknowledged the self-driven tech products being developed out of agencies.
See all the Grand Prix winners in the slide show above.