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Cannes Lions 2016: a round-up of this year’s big winners, and losers


After 8 days of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity handing out seemingly innumerable accolades, throwing extravagant parties and press events, we finally have our winners.

There were strong showings from animators this year, both hand drawn and digital, taking a number of Lions, including three Grand Prix accolades. Virtual reality continues to make a splash, enhancing storytelling and engaging the imagination of audiences, with The New York Times winning two Grand Prix Lions for the most accessible offering yet.

A number of integrated campaigns collected a slew of awards (including two with double Grand Prix wins) in different categories, making deft use of digital display, social media and print in engaging and complementary ways.

And although media agency Leo Burnett’s Van Gogh BnB campaign swept up 14 Lions it didn’t manage to walk off with a top prize in any of the categories it was nominated.

Cannes Lions is never without controversy. An app designed by Grey Digital I Sea which aims to scan the sea for refugees was disqualified as a fake shortly after picking up a Bronze Lion, with claims it was still in testing by the creators, and a non-functional publicity stunt by critics.

Meanwhile, Bayer also picked up a Bronze Lion for its Don’t worry babe, I’m not filming aspirin campaign, which has been largely and loudly denounced as sexist and sexually aggressive. As it turns out, even the creator AlmapBBDO wasn’t best pleased with its work (which had been entered by the brand), quickly disowning and withdrawing the work which it claims had only been created for the Cannes awards – a phenomenon we discussed recently in our coverage of new zero content, 100% advertising publication It Ran.

Nevertheless, the annual global event attended by creative agencies, designers, advertisers, marketers and PR professionals remains one of the most hotly contested and reported events on the media calendar.

Here are the winners of the highest accolades at the festival across its four parallel selections: Cannes Lions, Lions Health, Lions Innovation and Lions Entertainment.

Integrated Grand Prix: FU 2016 for Netflix’s House of Cards, by BBH New York

BBH New York and Netflix proved they have their fingers on the pulse with this satirical advertising campaign for the fourth season of House of Cards which included a complete faux-campaign identity and media suite, including political party broadcast ads, billboards, print and digital display placements, a website and a plethora of social media spots.

Savvy media integration continued as it ran alongside HBO’s Veep campaign posters at key locations, a canny media space purchase, with the two emerging by far the most charismatic ticket in the 2016 presidential race.


Digital Craft Grand Prix: for Because Music, by 84.Paris

In celebration of French record label Because Music’s 10th anniversary, 84.Paris created an interactive music website filled with clever animations, mini games and tasks. Accompanied by the showcased music, each interaction in turn alters its flow or progresses layers of the song.

The interactions are each based on the album cover designs of the label’s line-up of artists, including: making robots sing for Les Rita Mitsouko, spinning the clockwork musical gears of Laurent Garnier’s Timeless EP, and pulling away objects protecting the modesty of nude statue The Sluggard for Django Django’s Born Under Saturn.

Film Grand Prix: Shoplifters for Harvey Nichols, by adam&eveDDB, London

The Layzell Brothers’ animated effort for adam&eveDDB’s Harvey Nichols brief in promotion of its new rewards app, picked up the top prize for Film. The advert runs actual footage of shoplifters pilfering their way through the store over-layed with irreverent, anonymising animation which lampoons their dastardly actions. The video ends with a fitting tagline: “Love Freebies? Get them legally.” We covered the campaign in July last year, when it was released.

Mobile Grand Prix: NYT VR for The New York Times, by T Brand Studio; Grand Prix, Lions Entertainment: The Displaced for NYT VR, by Vrse.Works

The New York Times continues to earn its place at the forefront of cultural conversation, enhancing the reading experience through thoughtful and effective use of virtual reality storytelling. T Brand Studio provide the collaborative knowhow, building an accessible smartphone app for readers to become viewers – making use of Google’s cardboard viewing headset created for the experience.

One of these, The Displaced picked up a second win at Cannes in the Lions Entertainment selection as a cross-platform multimedia exploration of diaspora, following the personal stories of three children in the 30 million worldwide displaced by war.

Cyber Grand Prix: Justino for Loterías Y Apuestas del Estado, by Leo Burnett Madrid

Leo Burnett Madrid’s animated tv spot for the Spanish National Lottery picked up one of two Cyber Grand Prix Lions awarded at the festival. Endearing character design and a touching use of computer generated animation tell the personal short story of a man who works in a mannequin factory, his colleagues and an eventual lottery win.

Cyber Grand Prix and Creative Data Lions Innovation Award: The Next Rembrandt for ING, by JWT Amsterdam

The second Cyber Grand Prix winner also picked up a Creative Data gong in the Lions Innovation selection, presented by financial firm ING alongside Microsoft, in an effort to algorithmically analyse Rembrandt’s painting style towards artificially creating a ‘new’ painting by the artist.

An interesting concept, it ultimately falls short of Rembrandt’s mastery, as when the Guardian famously called the app “a horrible, tasteless, insensitive and soulless travesty of all that is creative in human nature.” Which all but proves no publicity is bad publicity.

Film Craft Grand Prix: Rule Yourself Michael Phelps for Under Armour, by Droga5 New York

A simple but splendidly shot ad spot featuring a star Olympian undergoing his unsparing train regime with an inspirational soundtrack. We covered the release of the ad spot back in March.

Design Grand Prix: Life is Electric for Panasonic, by Dentsu Inc

Dentsu Inc picked its Grand Prix in Design for its charging of Panasonic batteries in 21 inventive ways, from a hamster on wheel to a gym-goer pumping iron and a plethora of wired up citrus fruits, demonstrating electricity as a physical concept brought to life.

Promo and Activation Grand Prix: #Optoutside for Rei, by Venables Bell & Partners

A subversive print, digital and app campaign by outdoor retailer Rei, urging shoppers and employees on Black Friday to spend time outdoors instead.

Product Design Grand Prix: Jacquard by Levi’s Commuter and Google Creative Lab

Wearable tech jacket co-created by Levi’s and Google, for safe and fluid use whilst cycling, providing protection and quick access to digital functions. We covered the story behind the creation of Jacquard back in May.

Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix: Monty the Penguin for John Lewis, by adam&eveDDB

The Christmas ad that launched a thousand parodies. One boy and his penguin toy sharing all the Christmas spirit, from its high-profile 2014 campaign. It did the job, and refuses to disappear.

Glass Grand Prix: 6 Pack Band for Hindustan Unilever, by Mindshare Mumbai

India’s first transgender band brought together for a powerful media campaign and documentary infomercial created for Unilever Hindustani to raise awareness for India’s prejudicial attitudes towards transgender people.


Media Grand Prix and Print & Publishing Grand Prix: McWhopper for Burger King, by Y&R NZ

Cross-brand multimedia PR stunt playing on a noted rivalry between fast food manufacturers with extensive ad placement catching media coverage across social and news outlets, creating mass awareness for the activating brand Burger King in the United States, and for the Peace One Day charity organisation. It garnered wins in both the Media category and Print & Publishing Category. Back in May we interviewed the highly awarded New Zealand creative agency behind the campaign.

Lions Health, Health & Wellness Grand Prix: Project Literacy for Pearson, by FCB Inferno

Simple, moving animated video The Alphabet of Illiteracy, with each letter standing for and raising awareness for how illiteracy can hinder conversation about major global social issue: AIDS, child brides, ebola, FGM, homelessness.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top prize winners were: Colenso BBDO for Heineken’s Brewtroleum in the Outdoor Grand Prix category; Oglivy & Mather for Philips’ Breathless Choir in Lions Health selection picking up Health & Wellness Grand Prix; Creative agency David picking up Health Grand Prix for Good for Macma’s Manboobs campaign; Google’s Deepmind picked up the Innovation Grand Prix; and Prettybird picked up the Lions Entertainment Grand Prix for creating Formation for Beyoncé.