Meet the Cannes contenders

Leo Burnett's annual Cannes Predictions reel tends to be a good indicator of Lion winners. Mark Tutssel shares the highlights of 2013.

In 1987, Donald Gunn decided to bring the excitement and suspense of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to Leo Burnett staff. The initiative consisted of polling employees around the world to forecast the winners of the upcoming festival.

He affectionately named the project "Cannes Predictions" and painstakingly collected three-quarter-inch reels from all corners of the globe to create a showcase of the best television commercials tipped to win a coveted Cannes Lion.

Now in its 26th year, this employee engagement initiative has evolved to become the industry’s annual bellwether for Cannes, representing the best thinking, finest craftsmanship and most compelling ideas pushing our industry forward. Known forits impeccable accuracy throughout the years, onaverage more than 90 per cent of Cannes Predictions contenders go on to win a Lion. And, over the course of 26 years, our predictions have failed to predict the Film Grand Prix only once. Not too shabby.

The principles and processes developed and refined over the years by Gunn, as well as the past editors, Michael Conrad and Paul Kemp-Robertson, still guide our actions today, but the process is now a bit more involved. Each year, along with our creative teams around the world, I view hundreds of campaigns, monitor global and local awards and closely follow industry buzz to curate the annual Cannes Predictions collection.

Same as always, this year’s 35 predictions represent the finest creativity being practised in the world today. The list encompasses ideas across all categories and media that ignite conversation and move people to change behaviour.

Although each piece of work is brilliant and unique in its own way, there is one characteristic the campaigns have in common – the ability to connect with people across multiple platforms and geographies in fresh, daring, brave and unexpected ways. It’s a creative approach that propels an idea into a social phenomenon.

Simply put, it is "creativity without borders". It’s an approach that I believe will set the benchmark for cultural communications. It’s a frame of mind that allows us to unite speed and culture to create interesting and bold platform ideas that feed society’s need for instant gratification.

An obvious component to "creativity without borders" is technology. Technology has accelerated the need for spontaneity in marketing. It has made "live access" to a brand absolutely mandatory. No doubt this shift has challenged our industry, but I also believe it has made our creative craft more interesting, exciting and engaging.

This year, for the first time, the festival will honour pioneering forms of technology and innovation responsible for activating creative ideas that change the way people think, feel and act.

I’m happy to see that Leo Burnett has been named on the shortlist in the new Innovation Lion category for a campaign we recently unveiled with Coca-Cola, "small world machines".

"Small world machines" is aimed at breaking down barriers and creating a moment of happiness between twonations at odds: India andPakistan. This world-first technology created new, open-hearted ways for people to come together in an approach that is so true to Coca-Cola’s own relentless positive values.

This initiative let them see eye to eye and realise that what unites them is stronger than what sets them apart.

In addition to borderless creativity, innovation and technology are two other relevant and timely industry trends that bubbled to the surface during the compilation of this year’s CannesPredictions.

Cultural fluidity

Creativity is a universal language. The ease of which a great idea can spread across borders is utterly transformative. Whether poignant or provocative, clever or irreverent, great work knows no boundaries in this brave new age. Consider Metro "dumb ways to die" or Dove "real beauty sketches", which garnered more than 50 million views on YouTube yet originated from relatively small markets. Le Trèfle "Emma" is another wonderful and humorous example of cultural fluidity. Never before have creative teams in São Paulo, Melbourne or Paris been able to reach a mum in a rural town in England.

Earned media

Earned media is emerging as the most significant hallmark of success. The press clippings and Twitter statistics included in case-study films prove that creative work that engages and interacts with people is paramount.

Best-in-class examples include Red Bull Stratos’ daring effort, the Secret Diary Of A Call Girl’s cheeky "call girl" stunt and Vitória FC’s "my blood is red and black", a campaign created for Hemoba (the blood bank ofthe Brazilian state of Bahia)in association with the local football team. The campaign raised blood donations in Brazil by 46 per cent by changing the stripes of Vitória FC’s iconic jerseys from redto white.

Look closely at the examples above and you will notice a common thread: each selection rewards viewers and, in turn, viewers respond favourably.

The art and craft of music

Bono once said: "Music can change the world because it can change people."

Music is one of the strongest forms of magic. No longer an afterthought, music has surfaced as the soul of film. Careful consideration to the attention and craft of a soundtrack has a spellbinding, almost dream-like, effect and creates emotional, visceral connections that live long after the image is consumed.

It’s the universal language of humankind. It touches us emotionally, where words alone fail.

"Dumb ways to die" has that quality. It has an infectious melody that adds to its rewatchability. As a result, the song has literally circumnavigated the world and emotionally connected with everyone.

It is becoming impossible to divorce a great film from its soundtrack. Take a look at Old Spice and Terry Crews "muscle music" work or Ragú’s "long day of childhood" campaign. Try to imagine Southern Comfort’s "whatever’s comfortable – beach" without Odetta’s Hit Or Miss.

Using music as a tool, one can impart information and emotionally connect with people. It lives with you long after the film has ended – and has the power to transform human behaviour.

Always on

Real-time executions arebecoming real significant, real fast. Marketers are harnessing the power of the branded newsroom, taking cues from up-to-the-minute news, cultural episodes and social chatter to enter a larger conversation. Real-time campaigns such as Oreo "daily twist", Paddy Power "sky Tweets" and Water Is Life "hashtag killer" prove that our "always-on" lifestyle is driving highly strategic and rewarding creative.

With a record-breaking 35,000 entries from 92 countries submitted to Cannes this year, the competition is fiercer than ever before. It has made choosing our Cannes Predictions contenders more challenging than in other years, but that’s a good problem to have – a problem I will always welcome.

So, have we got it right this year? Will our Cannes Predictions have the "Midas touch" yet again? We’re about to find out.

Mark Tutssel is the chief creative officer at Leo Burnett Worldwide

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