After 2 years of cancelled and remote events, Cannes Lions 2022 came back with a bang. It wasn't only the in-person format that made Cannes Lions 2022 feel more connected to reality, but also the level of solutions-oriented and innovation-focused campaigns that won Grand Prix awards this year.
With values-based forms of consumption driving people’s relationships with brands, businesses are stepping up to address global challenges and make a positive impact on people’s lives. And on the flip side, protests from Greenpeace and ex Ad-man turned environmental protestor Gustav Martner challenged the industry to go further and keep innovating around these global crises.
So what were the key takeaways from this year’s winners? We explore the insights behind the ads.
In spite of fears around privacy and misinformation, people respond to technology with a purpose
With people more alert and clued into the systemic inequalities in society, they’re looking to brands to find real-time solutions to mitigate bias. In Vice Media’s The Unfiltered History Tour in partnership with Dentsu Creative, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Gurgaon, visitors to the British Museum were able to hack the museum’s archives and explore alternative historical narratives – a great example of our tech-exploration behaviour in action. Created with the knowledge of the British Museum, this innovative campaign showed the power of AR and spatial audio in subverting cultural narratives and giving a platform to history’s underrepresented individuals. As people strive to take ownership of their history and platform their own cultural experiences, the power to overlay new narratives over exhibits and monuments is an exciting step forward in addressing bias. It's Futurestalgia in action.
So too was the innovation from Google Pixel, with a campaign created by Mountain View/T Brand Studio, New York/W+K, Portland/GUT, Miami. The Real Tone advert, which won the Mobile Grand Prix and was voiced by Lizzo, spotlighted the historical failure of phone cameras to capture a diverse range of skin tones, especially failing the Black community. Google Pixel’s image capture technology was devised to capture the real skin tones of all its users, ensuring that Black users could capture, celebrate and share memories in the way they wanted. This is a powerful example of the role technology has to play in combating systemic racism and forging more equitable futures.
The Grand Prix winner for the Pharma category offered a moving example of tech for good. Addressing the challenge that only 12% of people who had Motor Neurone Disease would bank their voice because they found the technology too complicated, the campaign ‘I Will Always Be Me’ for Dell Technologies and Intel by VMLY&R sought to make it easier to voice bank by creating a storybook that people could read with loved ones. In this way, the process of banking your voice became more enjoyable and easier, driving a huge uptick in the number of people who now bank their voices during their experience of the degenerative disease.
After a few lockdown years, stories that draw us deep into reality are moving people to action
With zoom fatigue rife, people are craving more intimate and tangible forms of connection. That yearning for what makes us really human was foundational for some of the biggest Cannes Lions Grand Prix winners in 2022, with brands anchoring storytelling in ‘real life’ – and all the adversity, hardships and opportunity of being in this reality.
These were campaigns that packed a serious emotional punch. The Film Craft Lions Grand Prix winner ‘The Wish’, created by Serviceplan Campaign for Penny’s, a German supermarket chain, was a core example of this. The campaign tapped into the grief that a mother feels for her son’s loss of youth during the pandemic. Reflecting a core and near-universal experience of missed opportunities and events during the lockdown years, the highly emotive film, which sees the mother wishing her son would get drunk, fall in love and go travelling, acknowledges the grief of the pandemic without histerics, giving everyone a moment to pause and reflect on loss – as well as inspiring people to enter Penny’s experiential giveaway.
Playing into the emotional connection that people increasingly have with their animals, and reflecting the sense of burnout and anti-work fatigue that is pervasive in culture at the moment, the Save Ralph for Humane Society International featured an anthropomorphised rabbit named Ralph who talks about not wanting to lose his job and purpose as a tester bunny, even as we watch him go partially blind, lose his hearing and degenerate physically. The Grand Prix for Good winner, created by Arch Film Studio, evocatively takes people away from the complacency of values-based consumerism and effectively re-engages people with the campaign to end testing on animals, nudging them to check and investigate how products are made.
The Titanium Grand Prix went to Engine, London’s ‘Long Live The Prince for Kiyan Prince Foundation’ for EA Sports, QPR and Match Attax, which reflects on the devastating loss of Kiyan Prince, an exceptionally talented young footballer who was fatally stabbed in 2006. Voiced by Kiyan’s dad, the ad tells the story of Kiyan’s life, but invokes people to imagine where they could go, to build their own great stories. In partnership with EA Sports and JD Sports, the campaign invited people to imagine Kiyan at the peak of his career, humanising the impact of knife crime and re-engaging young audiences on a challenging topic through the brands and play spaces that they were most active.
Channel 4 was one of two winners of the Cannes Lions Film Grand Prix for their campaign for the Tokyo 2020 paralympics, ‘Super. Human.’ The sharply executed film celebrates the sweat, blood, tears and compromise that paralympians face, playing on the tag line that there is something ‘wrong’ with disabled athletes and showcasing the fortitude, grit and determination that makes a global successful athlete. With people searching for narratives that authentically represent them and their lives, the seamless intertwining of home and professional lives as well as the juxtaposition between training sessions and the world outside made the Super. Human campaign out of this world.