Cannes Lions 2021 looked different this year. Over the past 15 months creativity has been fuelled during Zoom calls, instead of in-person brainstorming sessions, due to the pandemic - while this year's event honoured work over a two-year period for the first time.
Although the way ads were created shifted, innovative work was born, despite limited production and months of lockdowns around the world. From Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper” to Bodyform’s “#WombStories", some of the year’s best creative work was honoured at the festival.
Check out the Grand Prix winners below.
Brand Experience and Activation, Direct, Social & Influencer
Burger King's "Stevenage Challenge" by David Madrid and David Miami.
The campaign involved the fast-food chain sneaking its logo into EA Sports game Fifa 20 by sponsoring Stevenage FC, which plays in League Two – the fourth tier of English football. It also won a gold and a silver in Direct, and a silver in Social & Influencer.
Brand Experience and Activation
Mastercard’s “True name” by McCann New York.
The campaign empowered transgender and non-binary cardholders to use their chosen names, thus reflecting their true identities.
Warner Music Group’s “Saylists” by Accenture Interactive’s Rothco
In partnership with Apple Music, the lyrics of more than 70 million songs were analysed, isolating the ones in which problem sounds occur – particularly in patterns helpful for speech therapy. Those songs were collected and curated to create Saylists: a collection of playlists that make speech therapy fun.
Cheetos Popcorn’s “Can’t touch this Cheetos” by Goodby Silverstein & Partners
MC Hammer’s classic hit was resurrected in this 30-second ad which ran during the Super Bowl 2020 – and featured an appearance from the man himself too.
Carrefour's "Act for food" by Marcel, Paris
French supermarket Carrefour's programme to offer healthier food to customers that is also benefiticial to both the environment and the farmers who produce it.
ABInBev's "Tienda Cerca" by Draftline, Bogotá
AB InBev's digital platform in Colombia connected local grocery stores to customers during the pandemic.
The Big Issue & LinkedIn's "Raising Profiles" by FCB Inferno
The collaboration used innovation to redefine The Big Issue's "new normal" and create a digital high street that reconnected magazine vendors and their locked down customers.
Nike's "Crazy Dreams" by Wieden & Kennedy Portland
Featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the slogan “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.”
H&M’s “Looop” by AKQA
This installation at a store in Stockholm allowed customers to drop off worn out clothes and watch them be recycled into new garments. The machine cleaned and shredded old clothes before turning them into yarn and using this to knit new ones ready for the customer to collect the next day. It was developed by Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel and designed by AKQA to demonstrate the potential of recycling clothes to customers and help explain the challenge of textile waste.
A proposed remedy to single-use plastic, Notpla, which stands for "not plastic", is an edible, biodegradable material made from plants and seaweed. It can be used directly to replace plastic cups and disappears naturally – a coup indeed when one considers the eight million tonnes of plastic dumped into the world’s oceans every year.
Fortnite's "Astronomical" by Epic Games
Travis Scott performed in the game.
Burger King's "Stevenage Challenge" by David Madrid and David Miami
Tinder’s “Swipe night” by 72andSunny
An interactive experience within the Tinder app, users were invited to take part in a first-person apocalyptic adventure where what happened next rested solely in their hands. As well as directing the story, it created a new way for people to match with each other online.
Sinyi Realty’s “In love we trust” by Dentsu Mcgarrybowen Taiwan
Created in response to Taiwan’s divorce rate surpassing its marriage rate, this film created for Sinyi Realty real estate aimed to encourage young people to overcome their fear of commitment. It became the country’s most shared ad of 2020.
Entertainment Lions for Music
Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” by Prettybird
A mash-up by director Calmatic in which the artist and Billy Ray Cyrus play cowboy bank robbers alongside a star-studded cast including Chris Rock, Diplo and Vince Staples.
Mercado Libre’s “Feed paradise” by Gut Agency, São Paulo
Mercado Libre joined forces with Gut Agency, São Paulo, to recreate the cancelled São Paulo Pride parade route and turned it into a music video. The clip was broadcast on the Instagram feed of Gloria Groove, Brazil’s biggest LGBT+ artist.
Entertainment Lions for Sport
Ascis’ “Eternal Run” by Edelman and Unit9
This campaign saw 22 elite runners in a race event on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Data revealed the Glideride shoes helped the runners to save energy and experience a 24% performance boost – enabling them to surpass their predicted distances and times.
House of Lapland’s "Salla 2032" by Africa DDB
Masquerading as a bid by the tiny Finnish town of Salla to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games, this was actually a campaign to call attention to the world’s ongoing climate crisis.
Sustainable Development Goals
Doconomy's "2030 calculator", by Farm, Stockholm
Launched by Swedish fintech startup Doconomy, the 2030 calculator helps brands and suppliers understand the carbon footprint of the products they produce.
Health & Wellness, Titanium, Film, Film Craft
Bodyform and Libresse’s “#WombStories” by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
A taboo-busting campaign for Essity feminine care brand Bodyform/Libresse that explores the true extent of the pain that women endure.
Created by Nadja Lossgott and Nicholas Hulley, it was directed by Nisha Ganatra.
#StillSpeakingUp Deeptruth, "Propuesta Cívica/Reporters Sans Frontieres", by Publicis Mexico/Publicis Latvia
#StillSpeakingUp featured the "reincarnation" on Twitter of four journalists who had been murdered in Mexico to raise awareness of threats to press freedom.
Lacoste's "Crocodile inside" by BETC, Paris
A couple conduct an epic break-up, as the world crumbles around them.
Nike's "You can’t stop us" by Wieden & Kennedy Portland
Released at the height of the pandemic, this film urges unity and survival in sport as well as life.
Health & Wellness
Beco’s “Steal our staff” by TBWA/London
Social enterprise Beco wanted other employers to (literally) steal its staff, in a campaign aimed at closing the UK’s disability employment gap. The work showcased Beco staff and their skills and served to highlight just how misleading media representations of disabled people can be. The work was created by Dan Kenny, Duncan Brooks and Tom Gong, and directed by Dan Castella through Hoi Polloi.
UN Foundation Lions Health Grand Prix for Good
The Central Office of Public Interest's Addresspollution.org by AMV BBDO
A campaign demanding action on air pollution revealed some of London’s wealthiest areas have the highest levels of air toxicity.
Starbucks' "I am" by VMLY&R Brazil
A Starbucks in São Paulo was transformed into a registry office for Pride 2020, where members of the trans community could change their name on official documents to their chosen monikers.
City of Chicago’s “Boards of change” by FCB
This saw the plywood boards that barricaded shop fronts during the Black Lives Matter protests turned into voting booths, inspiring residents in dozens of low-turnout neighbourhoods and helping the city attain a record number of registrations and voters.
Telenor Pakistan’s “Naming the invisible by digital birth registration” by Ogilvy Pakistan
This project to give digital birth certificates to unregistered – and thus "invisible" – children in Pakistan bypassed outdated paper-based processes thanks to its launch in an Android mobile app.
Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper” by Ingo, David Miami and Publicis Romania
Burger King’s unconventional campaign featured an up-close look at a Whopper that had been rotting for 35 days in an effort to prove that its food no longer contains preservatives.
Heineken’s “Shutters” by Publicis Milan
During the pandemic, the beer brand adorned the shutters of closed bars of more than 5,000 venues around the world in Argentina, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, and Spain with these ads. It paid the bars directly for the ad space and reminded the public of their reopening. “See this ad today, enjoy this bar tomorrow,” stated the ads.
Renault’s “Electric village” by Publicis Conseil
This three-year campaign involved households in the hamlet of Appy in France being provided with a fleet of 11 Renault Zoes and a public charging point to create the first fully electric town in the country.
Woojer and Claire’s Place Foundation’s “Sick beats”
Born from a collaboration between sound company Woojer and Claire’s Place Foundation, a non-profit organisation that supports individuals with cystic fibrosis.
Treatment for the disease can entail wearing special vests which clear airways by breaking up mucus. This innovative new device can be hooked up to an individual’s Spotify account, with the vest harnessing 40Hz deep bass frequencies which have been proven to loosen mucus.
AB InBev’s “Contract for change” by FCB Chicago and FCB New York
The campaign for the beer giant aims to remove barriers for US farmers to adopt organic practices by guaranteeing a buyer within three years of the transition.
Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation’s “The bread exam” by McCann Paris
Launched on World Cancer Day, this ad used bread kneading to demonstrate to women how to check their breasts for early signs of breast cancer. The campaign tackled cultural taboos relating to intimate parts of the body.
Unilever's "Degree inclusive deodorant" by Wunderman Thompson, Buenos Aires
The "world's first inclusive deodorant", co-created by a team of design experts and individuals living with disabilities, with packaging making the product easier to use for those with limited mobility or visual improvements.
Print & Publishing
Dove’s “Courage Is beautiful” by Ogilvy Toronto and Ogilvy London
Dove celebrated the strength and determination of frontline health staff amid the coronavirus pandemic. The ads show workers sporting marks on their faces from prolonged use of PPE equipment, alongside the tagline "Courage is beautiful". All photos featured real doctors and nurses who were approached by Ogilvy via Instagram.
Social & Influencer
Reddit’s “Superb Owl” by R/GA
Reddit’s first-ever Super Bowl ad (and TV ad) "Superb Owl", was simply a spot which read: "Big game spots are expensive, so we couldn't buy a full one, but we were inspired and decided to spend our entire marketing budget on 5 seconds of airtime."