The themes that emerge at Cannes often mark undercurrents in our industry as a whole. After years of debate between Idea and Craft, between traditional and digital agencies, Cannes 2015 looks to be a celebration of work at the intersection of imaginative storytelling and seamless technology.
The diversity of work that people are buzzing about speaks to our evolution as an industry and growing confidence with new media. Once, novel explorations were rewarded on pioneer-value alone. But now, judges in categories like Cyber, Mobile and Media will have much higher expectations of what to send forward.
Creatives from a variety of backgrounds and agencies are mastering contexts in addition to concepts. They’re pushing beyond the novelty of new mediums to make work that is conceptually unique and contextually relevant. Among the rich diversity of projects this year, the most exciting are simple ideas that attack big, complex problems.
For example, to deal with a growing shark problem, Australian telecom company Optus (along with Google and Shark Attack Mitigation Systems) designed buoys that use sonar signals to alert lifeguards when sharks swim too close to shore. The work, smartly dubbed "Clever Buoy," was done by M&C Saatchi, Sydney, Australia.
In Argentina, Samsung developed a simple technology that helped combat a troublingly high number of car-accident-fatalities. Along with Leo Burnett, Buenos Aires, the company produced a front-facing wireless camera and rear-facing outdoor monitors that let drivers behind trucks see the road ahead of them.
For sheer emotional impact, it’s hard to beat Huggies’ "Meeting Murillo." With the help of Mood/TBWA in Sao Paulo, the company made it possible for a blind mother to feel a scan of her unborn child by giving her a 3D-printed model of the scan. Very few people are discussing this project in their predictions, but I am hoping to see it on stage this year.
In campaign-related categories, the stories that win may not be decided by the judges alone. When an idea is powerful enough, the audience helps determine the winners by choosing the content that they care enough about to share.
Take Always "Like a Girl." This work, courtesy of Leo Burnett, asked people to rethink the phrase "like a girl." What was traditionally seen as an insult was turned into an expression of strength. And the audience responded by watching it over 50,000,000 times online.
I'm particularly proud of "Love Has No Labels," a campaign created by R/GA in partnership with the AdCouncil that uses a simple piece of technology to convey a surprising and powerful message to help break down our unconscious bias. It quickly became one of the most viewed and shared PSA’s in history.
It will be interesting to watch the themes that emerge this year at Cannes. If these predictions ring true, it may be the most contextually rich body of work to date. But among the entries that go furthest, my bet’s still on the timeless formula of simple ideas that attack big problems.
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Chloe Gottlieb is SVP and executive creative director with R/GA New York.