Honda’s "Sound of Honda/Ayrton Senna 1989," a high-tech experience that both looks to the future and revives past legacy, has won the Titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The installation piece from Dentsu Tokyo—which was an immersive light and sound experience that revived decades-old data and brought it to life in a modern context—was lauded by the jury for humanizing technology and bringing real emotion to data.
The idea was novel. In 1989, racecar driver Ayrton Senna drove a record-setting lap at the Japanese F1 circuit in Suzuka. Using then-new Internavi telemetry navigation system Honda was able to capture detailed information on how engine performance. In order to promote the Internavi system, and to remind consumers of Honda’s high-performance legacy, Dentsu transformed that data into light and sound, recreating an audio-visual representation of Senna’s driving achievement.
"It is not easy to talk about your legacy and your future at the same time," said Prasoon Joshi, chairman/CEO/CCO India/South Asia, McCann Worldgroup, and president of the Titanium and Integrated jury. "How do you humanize technology? That has been a big challenge in today’s world. It’s very important that it connects with life. We were all looking for the human touch and here there was a piece of work that was bringing all of that together. We found that was rare."
Juror Tor Myhren, worldwide chief creative officer of Grey, said, "at the end of the day our job is to propel these brands forward. This took a gigantic brand and reminded us of the racing and performance heritage. It took that brand and rounded it out in a really lovely way."
To clearly delineate between the Titanium and Integrated aspects of this category—which since its inception has been the most coveted a yet the most convoluted—Joshi stated that his direction to the jury was to separate the two right from the beginning. "There has been confusion in this category so we very clearly defined it for ourselves. People think Titanium is about gimmicks or stunts or new technology, that it can’t be a conventional medium. But it can be all of that. It’s about pushing boundaries and new ideas; it has to be a paradigm shift."
Three other pieces met that standard and were awarded Titanium Lions: UN Women "The Autocomplete Truth" from Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, which used search autocomplete to raise awareness around perceptions of women; States United to Prevent Gun Violence "Unload Your 401K" from Grey New York, which enabled people opposed to gun violence to ensure their investments didn’t support the industry; and Not Impossible Labs "Project Daniel" from The Ebeling Group, which used simple 3-D printing to provide low-cost prosthetic arms to amputees in war-torn Sudan. Commenting on how these other Titanium winners were more cause-related than the Grand Prix choice, juror Anselmo Ramos of David said, "If you look at Titanium, we have really big human rights issues and Honda was the only big brand. We’d like to see more big brands doing this kind of work."
On the Integrated side of things, the jury awarded a campaign that Joshi said was demonstrative of "doing what you preach." Harvey Nichols’s "Sorry I Spent it On Myself" campaign was awarded the Grand Prix for changing behaviors, said Joshi. "It was not just about ads, it affected culture. And it’s funny and absolutely unapologetic about what it is."
The campaign completely subverted the holiday tradition of spending money on others and created a line of low-budget and totally preposterous gifts so shoppers could have more to spend on themselves.
In the Integrated categories there was only one Gold awarded, which went to Volvo’s "Live Test Series." Silvers went to Mimi Foundation "If Only For a Second" and Newcastle Brown Ale "If We Made It," while Bronze Lions were awarded to John Lewis "Hare and Bear," Prudential "Chapter Two," Chipotle "The Scarecrow," and the Old Spice campaign featuring "Mom Song."
That Volvo was not awarded a Grand Prix was surprising to some, especially since the integrated campaign was so effective and had already picked up a Film Grand Prix. Ramos said there was a big discussion about whether epic split was worth a Titanium, "but in the end, we decided it’s not necessarily pushing the industry forward the way titanium should be." Added Joshi, "It’s a truly, solid integrated campaign, but, for us, it was not Titanium.