Cannes 2014: the winning formula

Jurors share their observations and creative highlights from the judging room at this year's Cannes Lions festival.


Jeremy Garner, former executive creative director, Weapon7

After seven days watching and discussing 2,800 entries, the jury was unanimous in its decision to elevate work that capitalised on bravery, as well as relevancy, originality and flawless execution.

The Grand Prix winners were outstanding examples of this. "Sorry, I spent it on myself" for Harvey Nichols (pictured, top) was sublime. The idea of taking self-indulgence and turning it into something that made people smile, especially at Christmas, was something we felt was incredibly difficult to achieve.

"The epic split" for Volvo Trucks is evidence that product-demonstration ideas can become magical pieces of film. Everything about it is perfectly realised – and the fact it is in such an unlikely sector speaks for itself. Just like the Harvey Nichols film, it seems to get better with each viewing.

Nike’s "possibilities" was a particular favourite of mine; it captures perfectly the spontaneous nature of motivation for the everyday sportsperson and knits it together through an epic piece of film.

Another standout gold winner for the jury was Old Spice’s "momsong", with its crisp insight and hilarious execution. Its irreverence really stood out, as did the two Southern Comfort films.

But, ultimately, Film favoured the brave at Cannes in 2014.


Paul Tullo, chairman, TMW Group

I’ve just returned from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where I was privileged to be part of the creative jury helping to select the best work and awards for the Direct category. Now that the hangover is starting to clear and the digestion is normalising, I can see more clearly some of the trends that emerged during the week.  

Early on, I noticed the abundance of projects for charities, NGOs and government that vastly outweighed more traditional brand-type campaigns, and also the number of campaigns submitted by countries that you wouldn’t expect to have a large advertising industry. Every other project we saw seemed to come from Latin America; in fact, there seemed to be more entries from Colombia than from the UK or the US and, incidentally, they were mostly very good. In the early stages of judging, we came across some very amusing projects, such as the campaign in Mumbai to clear the streets of people peeing. The solution? Get a lorry tanker full of water, mount a water cannon and blast them off the streets. Now that’s what I call direct. With that in mind, the greatest debate we had among the jurors was trying to define whether or not an individual project was direct. We concluded everything is direct.

In the end, quality rises to the top, which is why the British Airways campaign "magic of flying" (pictured) was a worthy winner of the Grand Prix. It perfectly combined technology and creativity with an extraordinary emotional connection with the audience, starting a conversation that would lead directly to sales. Brilliant… and from the UK.

Creative Effectiveness

Craig Mawdsley, joint chief strategy officer, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Judging the Cannes Creative Effectiveness awards has been wonderful, with  "guilt trips" for V/Line (pictured) winning the sole Grand Prix.

Our shortlist makes a case for commercial creativity. But getting to that list threw up questions we need to face as an industry, if this case is to continue to be made.

Looking at all the entries, you could be forgiven for thinking that the primary purpose of our industry is charitable work, and that our role is to help clients spend very little, to generate a little more in return.

This is not a convincing commercial model.

Even the best cases define PR coverage, views, likes and Tweets as effects (rather than a means of generating effects). ROI is often calculated on "earned media value" – which suggests that, as an industry, we do not understand what the "R" in ROI really means.

Cannes’ Creative Effectiveness eligibility criteria favour short-term effects. Given the growing body of evidence that the main effects of our work are felt in the long term, this category could get very marginal.

Inspiring, enjoyable, but in need of change.


Jose Miguel Sokoloff, president, Lowe Global Creative Council

In general, the entries were quite good. We did, however, notice that the most innovative and interesting work comes from all the "ambient" activity – that is the work that happens outside the flat billboard format. It tends to be more engaging and interesting. I think this is well-reflected in the golds we gave; there were significantly more given out to the ambient category than to the traditional poster one.

Good causes and what I like to call "constructive" advertising seem to have become the dominant theme.

We looked at many extraordinary pieces of work for extraordinarily important things in the world.

Sometimes done directly by brands that want to participate in the conversation but mostly by non-profit organisations that lead the action related to the cause.

Advertising is becoming a major force for good and for positive change. I am proud of my profession.

A great example of this was the Grand Prix, awarded for ANZ’s GAYTMs (pictured). It won because it is brave for a bank to publicly adopt a position that could be controversial (and two of those ATM machines were vandalised). But it also won because it is an idea that everyone could have done – it did not require great budgets or technology, it just required creativity, balls and brilliant execution. We can all do that.


Darren Bailes, executive creative director, VCCP

After being released back into Cannes society following my stint judging on the Print jury, so many people asked me what it was like. Here goes.

Take one handheld scanner (like you get in Sainsbury’s to scan your shopping). Scan a print ad barcode. Scan another barcode to score from one to nine. Repeat. About 10,000 times.

And there you have it. At least for the first couple of days. Twenty jurors. Beeping like mad, 14 hours a day. Oh, the glamour of the French Riviera.

After one particularly intense session, my frazzled mind drifted and I scanned the logo on an ad – not the barcode – repeatedly. It just wouldn’t beep, however many times I tried. A Brazilian spotted me. The shame. This was the English mental weakness that would rear its ugly head again against Uruguay.

Each portfolio dumped in front of me was full of surprises. Most had at least three campaigns suggesting we maybe shouldn’t text and drive. Three x 50 portfolios. That’s a lot of "don’t text and drive" work. This seemed to be the most universal of social issues, but sympathy-vote-winning deadly diseases were everywhere. Suicide counselling, Alzheimer’s, cancer support, poverty. They all made an appearance.

Try getting your Snickers ads to gain some support among that lot.

After all the beeping, I was very happy for Adam & Eve/DDB’s Harvey Nichols work (pictured) to romp home in the Grand Prix vote. Well done.

And please remember, folks – don’t text and drive.

Titanium and Intergrated

Steve Vranakis, executive creative director, Google Creative Lab

One of the first things we did was to split the Titanium and Integrated shortlists. Both were big achievements, but to make it as a finalist on Titanium was akin to being nominated for an Oscar, in our eyes. This should feel special and be celebrated.

The work was of a standard to be expected. The crème de la crème of Cannes. I loved that we celebrated epic splits (Volvo Trucks) alongside selfish shoppers (Harvey Nichols). Where we once tried to infiltrate popular culture, Volvo helped define it. And where, historically, we took campaigns that ran across multiple media and called it integrated, we showed how an idea like "I spent it on myself" could lead to infrastructural change requiring the manufacturing of a range of products that were shipped, merchandised and sold to the self-indulgent.

What I also hope we showed was that "commerciality" was not at the expense of creativity. And that creativity could have a conscience.

This year was when hi-tech met lo-fi. When film and retail could coexist alongside Ayrton Senna, who was brought back to life through data being displayed in one of the most beautiful ways ever (pictured).

Honda showed the world once again that it has innovation running in its veins and is a thoughtful brand that can evoke emotion in any medium.

We also showed how we could raise awareness around issues such as war-torn Sudan while allowing locals to take action and build low-cost prosthetic arms using 3D printers (Project Daniel). This is where empathy goes on to empower.

The work was inspiring, as were my fellow jurors, and I was incredibly honoured to represent the UK in the year we took the Lions by storm.


Mel Exon, chief digital officer, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

This felt like the year the interactive category put on muscle, blossomed and grew up. Not just in numbers, although a year-on-year jump of 39 per cent to 3,660 entries gave the jury pause for thought. The category came of age in two respects:

1. Craft. Code married to art and copy to create new types of creative ideas is exciting. But when it is delivered with extraordinary production craft, it’s magic. for Pharrell Williams (pictured) displayed immaculate attention to detail across the piece: UX, interface design, content and sound. The deeper we dug, the better it got. Terre des Hommes’ groundbreaking "Sweetie" was so well-crafted, it helped catch webcam paedophiles by convincing them an entirely artificial child was real. The National Geographic Channel’s "Killing Kennedy" wove two stories together simultaneously and seamlessly in a way that only digital can do.

2. Performance beyond views. A phenomenal, designed-for-the-web piece of film, "the epic split" is also the sixth in a "Volvo Trucks Live Test Series" and a textbook example of building a relationship with an audience consistently over time. The brand understood YouTube’s algorithm rewards total watched time with a channel. Millions watched one live test and stayed to watch more, creating a virtuous circle.

Film Craft

Martin Loraine, deputy executive creative director, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

New tech, new tools, new formats. Cannes reveals the new opportunities as well as the brand new clichés.

Deeper, more emotional narratives made possible by longer time lengths in online films, such as "the 1000 miles of Luca", Skype’s "twins" and Vodafone’s "first flight".

Skype and Vodafone putting their products at the centre of stories, while Facebook and Google put theirs in the centre of the screen.

Omnipresent, poignant piano scores.

New tech enabling new kinds of idea and new kinds of self-indulgence. "We did this" ads constantly showing crews, creatives and directors on the wrong side of camera.

Plenty of clichés, but plenty of outstanding work in Film Craft too.

And awards across a rich variety of media: filmed events, online campaigns, documentaries, promos, short films and TV commercials.

(Some others to look up: Beldent’s "almost identical", Nimble’s "unexpected happens", EITB’s "better with music", Bob Dylan’s "Like A Rolling Stone" interactive promo, Du’s "too depressing", Bud Lite’s "Ian" (pictured), Nike’s "possibilities" with voiceover of the year from Bradley Cooper and Intel’s "The Power Inside" series.)

Lots of gold but no Grand Prix. A year of breadth rather than height.


Sune Kaae, senior technical director, R/GA Stockholm

It was a privilege to have been involved in judging the 2014 Innovation Lions – all the judges were blown away by the standard of entries. The overall theme for the shortlist and winning Lions was innovations in the context of communication, marketing, media – and in empowering people’s creativity. The best entries included technological breakthroughs, potentially scalable beyond an individual campaign, with an ability to disrupt media formats or creative processes. And with several venture capitalists on the panel, the question of "Would I invest in this?" was important.

An exciting trend among the four winners is that they all blur the lines between physical and digital, exploring how technology, physical computing and the Internet of Things are fundamentally changing the nature of real-world physical objects and experiences.

As for the Grand Prix winner, Sochi 2014’s "MegaFaces" (presented by the London-based architects Asif Khan Studio), it was a unanimous decision. The work (pictured) delivered a deep personal and emotional first-hand experience, elegantly taking advantage of the "selfie" cultural trend.

It inspired fresh thinking about how the physical environment can be made up of dynamic components and forms adjusting to the changing needs of buildings or rooms. With the power of miniaturisation and economies of scale, this innovation has the potential to profoundly change our daily lives.

Branded Content & Entertainment

Will Barnett, executive creative director, Adjust Your Set

Of the 1,100-plus submissions, 700 made it into the room. Six long days of analysis. A shortlist of 91 became 66 pieces of metal. Just 11 golds. No Grand Prix.

Trends included the development of existing entertainment formats, but from brands, with the marketing message or product skilfully woven into feature films, short films, soap operas, documentaries, stories created from user-generated content, stories born from new technology, experiences and events created, recorded and broadcast – stories, which engage and demand to be shared.

I was left with this thought (thank you, Olivier Gers): the key for content is not just storytelling but story-building.

Here is the best story… Sweetie (pictured) is a child from the Philippines working in the online sex industry. Men pay to enact sexual behaviours online.

They don’t know that she is a 3D CGI creation. She looks and sounds real. She is the perfect honeytrap.

She has not just highlighted the issue of online child abuse, but her creation has helped to catch the perpetrators.

Tech, storytelling, innovation, loving craft, emotion all brought together to make the world a better place. Simple. Perfection.

It won a gold from us. Twelve golds across all categories and a Grand Prix in Titanium.

I wish I’d done it.


Simon Blaxland, senior producer and managing director, Blaxland Productions

There was a new voting system, "longer" scripts, some interesting technical innovations and relatively few UK entries – and Lucozade deservedly won both a Radio Grand Prix and gold Lion.

The traditional show of hands was replaced by secret voting on tablets, which worked brilliantly. The debate was still lively, lasting into the night, but there was no doubt that Lucozade stood out. Writing, performance and production were spot-on – and on-brief.

The longer scripts, averaging 60 seconds, featured in most, if not all, categories. This gave more time for the idea to develop – but the writing was still tight.

The technical innovations ranged from the fun (a station for dogs) to the life-changing (Radiometries – an on-air hearing test for children in rural Colombia).

Finally, congratulations to Dove and Ogilvy & Mather London, the solitary UK winner.


Daniel Bonner, global chief creative officer, Razorfish 

The defining trend within the Mobile Lions 2014 was, ironically, diversity.

Perhaps 2014 was (finally) the ‘Year of Mobile’ that’s been relentlessly predicted on an annual basis since about 2007. Expectantly we have waited, but so often the work has fallen short. At last though, the jury agreed that mobile has seemingly come of age.

The winners were a rich variety of connected products, epic user-experiences, utilities and services, optical and audio recognition-based games and tools.  One particular winner - melting the hearts of even the most hard-assed jury members – even used a technology and function that had previously been overlooked…the humble telephone call.

What became evident was that mobile can be central to addressing a broad range of challenges that brands face. Mobile, the medium, enables ideas to do and be and act as they have never done before. The Grand Prix winner was a perfect example of this.

The Nivea campaign for children’s sun cream took the brand’s promise of protection to a whole new meaningful level. The mobile campaign - designed to protect children from getting lost at the beach - included location–specific media distribution, liberated the press ad with simple sensor technology and connected the traditional format to the mobile device to offer an authentic and indispensable experience.