Pharrell Williams’ "24 Hours of Happy" is one of those projects that never ceases to bring a smile to the face. A continuous, 24-hour version of the singer’s hit "Happy"—which was created as part of the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack—the online experience is a riot of joyous dancing people (read all about how it was made here). Aside from being simply infectious, the piece exploded to become a bona fide platform for positive change. The all-day online video prompted about 1,500 fan remakes, and caught the attention of the UN, which used the concept to raise funds and named March 20 an international day of happiness on the back of it.
All of this, along with what the Cyber Jury called a seamless interface, netted the project a Grand Prix in the craft and web category at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, as well as four Gold Lions and one Silver in various categories. "24 Hours of Happy", created by Iconoclast, was one of three Grand Prix awarded by the jury, led by Susan Bonds, CEO of 42 Entertainment, which stated that because of the vast increase in Cyber categories—this year’s category count was 56 over last year’s 39—they opted to award the maximum number of top awards.
The category’s other Grand Prix were Volvo’s "Live Test Series", which won in the social category, and Chipotle’s "Scarecrow", which won in the branded games and branded tech category.
Of the Chipotle work from CAA, which netted two additional Golds and two Silvers and a Bronze, juror Joe Alexander, chief creative officer of The Martin Agency, said that this campaign, along with Chipotle’s Grand Prix-winning "Back to the Start" from 2012, has "reinvented fast food advertising in the U.S. "We were knocked out by this follow-up to 'Back to the Start.' The animation, the craft, was at the industry standard for animation. It was incredibly well done." Alexander also noted that the accompanying game brought the project to the next level. "To be able to play and share a game that reinforced their message was phenomenal," he said.
The other Grand Prix winner was the ever-popular Volvo "Live Test Series" from Forsman & Bodenfors Gothenburg, which received four additional Gold Lions. Tony Högqvist, creative director at Perfect Fools, says that this work rose to the top based on its adroit use of social media. "Social is a huge part of cyber these days. When you consider that it was the biggest thing that people shared and talked about, this piece really stands out. I think it’s unbelievable how, considering that it’s a piece of B-to-B marketing, that they’ve made it the most sexy piece of advertising on the planet."
Other notable award winners were "Sweetie" for Terre Des Hommes from Dutch agency Lemz and MediaMonks, which was awarded six Golds. The buzz-worthy piece set out to combat cyber sex tourism with its creation of a virtual girl, which online predators mistook for real. Aside from raising awareness of this oft-unseen issue, it also led many countries to take action against sex predators. The piece was lauded by the jury as work that changed the industry. "It’s easy to be cynical," says juror Wesley Ter Haar, founder and COO of MediaMonks. "Work like this can change that."
Though not a recipient of any Gold Lions, Skype's "Stay Together Family Portrait" series from Pereira & O'Dell was among the most medalled, with two Silver and four Bronze statues to its credit.
Honda’s "Sound of Honda" from Dentsu Tokyo was another jury favorite and received one Gold and two Silvers. R/GA Argentina's executive creative director Mariano Jeger says this work was disruptive in many ways. "The way they showed us the story is unusual from other ways you see stories on the web," he says, referencing the fact that the entire piece is without words and based totally in sound. "Here the sound is the star. You know that people who know F1 recognize the cars by the sound. The way the made this to celebrate the sound of the Honda was amazing and beautiful."
Adds Nathali Huni, executive creative director, TBWA DAN Paris, "It doesn’t feel like a tech piece; it feels emotional. It’s like when you read a book you can use your imagination, and this allowed us to use our imagination." Which again, much like the mobile category, demonstrates that pieces that successfully combine technology with storytelling to create an emotional response—versus early attempts that fell more on the technological wizardry end of the spectrum—are winning favor with awards juries.