Why It’s Important to Reward Creativity: A Look at the Cannes Lions 2014 Winners

Why It’s Important to Reward Creativity: A Look at the Cannes Lions 2014 Winners

Why do we care so much about who has the most creative ad campaign? Or which has utilized mobile technology more effectively? As marketers, we strive to become more creative because we know it’s the only way to break through and actually persuade our audience. The best advertisers identify the right target audience, with the right message at the right moment—and then break through the clutter with an innovative and unique idea to make their message heard.

This past week, hundreds of advertisers were recognized at the 61st annual Cannes Lions awards show and festival for doing just that. The winners were awarded for their efforts in design, PR, use of mobile, media, and innovation, to name just a few of the categories.

What made this year’s winners stand out, and what are broader trends we’re seeing in advertising?

  • Advertising Concepts Must Be Flexible – Ads not only have to work across multiple screens, but the marketing campaigns behind them need to work across multiple mediums. Coca-Cola won the “Media” award for their “Happy ID” campaign in Peru. The country has all the makings to be a happy country – a rich culture, diversity, a growing economy – but they’re still ranked as one of the lowest in their region. Coca-Cola noticed that many ID’s in the country featured serious/sad faces. They brought photobooths to different locations in the country, encouraging people to take a new, smiling photo for their ID. They also made partnerships with photography stores, where smiling photos meant a free coke. That year, 90% of new IDs featured a happy, smiling face. Their brand could live anywhere. They were simply promoting smiles.
  • Let Technology Fuel Your Ad Strategy – If Google can create self-driving cars, our advertising should incorporate innovative technology. British Airways won the Grand Prix award for a billboard ad that dynamically displayed a wholly different message when a BA airplane was visible and flying above the billboard versus when there was nothing there. The ad itself featured a small child pointing towards the sky, walking across the billboard mesmerized as the plane flew by. A relatively complex technology got the job done—catching people’s attention and impressing them with innovation at the same time. This is 21st century advertising: we ought to be thinking about how we can do new and interesting things that are eye catching and actually memorable.
  • Tell a Story, Don’t Sell a ProductV/Line won the Grand Prix award for creative effectiveness with their “Guilt Trip” campaign. Their challenge: Country towns in Australia were losing young people to the city and didn’t come back home to visit. Their big idea? Offer parents the ability to pre-pay train tickets to send to their children. They also provided resource materials for parents on “how to be guilty,” and each ticket came with a very guilt-heavy note, video or letter for their children. The result: V/Line saw 160,000 extra trips back home. But, they weren’t selling the speed of their trains, or the efficient prices – they were simply evoking the feeling of reunion. As advertisers, we need to understand our bottom line, but ultimately the way we drive sales is to tell a story, and evoke a feeling.
  • Allow Users to Utilize Your ContentNivea won the Grand Prix for “mobile” for their “Protection” ad. Nivea’s print ads contained bracelets that parents could tear out and place on their children. During the summer months on the beaches of Brazil, parents spending more time outdoors with their children have two major concerns: the need to protect their children from the sun, and the need to protect their children from running off. Nivea’s detachable band contained a GPS tracker, and instructions to download a mobile app to begin tracking the children’s whereabouts. The app identified when a child ventured too far beyond the parent, and alerted them accordingly. Their mobile campaign provided utility that tied back to the Nivea brand: protection for your child, less concern for you.

So what’s all the buzz lately around “Real Time Marketing?” It’s actually “All the Time Marketing” – Media is obsessed with brands and their “real time marketing” during big public moments like the World Cup, and Oscars – but it’s really just the start. Brands are starting to think not just how they can be creative in real time moments, but also in their evergreen campaigns and year-round marketing initiatives. It sounds simple enough, but the advertisers that fight the hardest to be heard and seen all the time, are the ones that move the needle. Brands that seek awards for creativity generate more market share than campaigns seeking other types of awards.

We’re past the point where a brand can decide to spend millions of dollars and be done with “marketing” – sure, you’ll get seen, but the only way to actually break through and persuade consumers is to get creative.

And at BPI, we’re always nerding out about great creative executions. If you see something you want to share with us, tweet it @BPIMedia!

To see all of the winners from the 61st annual Cannes Lions, check out their site.