Cannes 2019: FCB/Six wins Grand Prix in Creative Data

The agency took the top prize for Black & Abroad's "Go Back To Africa," while FCB Toronto won a Gold in the first edition of the Creative Strategy Lions.
Black&Abroad

The Creative Data Lions are now in their fifth year, with FCB/Six winning the first Gold for Canada in the category only last year.

For Cannes Lions 2019, the agency stepped it up.

“Go Back to Africa,” a campaign FCB/Six created for Black & Abroad, sat atop the 13 winners in the category with a Grand Prix win.

Jury president Yasuharu Sasaki, head of digital creative and ECD at Dentsu Japan, said this year’s jury was being especially mindful of the increased privacy concerns and distrust of data collection people have, and was looking to award work that promoted using creativity in an ethical way and accomplished good.

That was embodied in “Go Back To Africa,” which aimed to take what has typically been used as a racist term to harass Black people, especially on social media, and turn it into a call to action for Black & Abroad, which is focused on curating travel experiences for Black tourists.

Creative utilized versions of social posts found online by censoring the racist elements and putting them in front of some of the landscapes travelers to Africa can expect to see on a trip, before targeting them to Black audiences who have expressed an interest in travel. But to respond to the fact that most travel photography predominantly features white people, FCB/Six used an AI engine to scan social networks for travel images featuring Black people, tagging them with things like “food,” “relaxation” and “hiking,” all things you’d expect someone to be thinking about when planning a trip. That database of images was compiled on the campaign website but also used in a programmatic portion of the campaign, which used the images to create and target personalized ads to people based on their interests.

“It tackled an issue in a bold and impactful way,” Sasaki said. “It turned negative things into emotional content, and each engagement was with a meaningful message.”

The campaign had four spots on the Creative Data shortlist, but ultimately won in the Social Data & Insight sub-category. FCB/Six worked with Initiative on media targeting, Glossy on PR, Rooster on post production and Grayson Matthews on audio for the campaign.

FCB Toronto, meanwhile, also has cause for celebration, taking home Canada’s first Gold of this year’s festival in the new Creative Strategy category. The agency won for “Endangered Syndrome,” its latest for Canadian Down Syndrome Society, which aimed to have people with Down Syndrome be declared an endangered species in reponse to the fact that declining birth rates for people with Down Syndrome has been resulting in decreases in funding and support programs.

Jury president Tracey Follows, founder of Futuremade, said the Creative Strategy jury was looking to assemble a body of work to represent what excellence in the category will look like in future categories. She added that the main criteria it used to judge the work was whether there was “brilliant thinking” that used insights to get to a tangible impact, be it business results or a change in perception or behaviour.

The first Creative Strategy Grand Prix went to Forsman & Bodenfors for “The E.V.A. Initiative,” a campaign for Volvo that used decades of historical data from an internal team that has studied traffic accidents since the 70s, incorporating it into vehicle designs to address the fact that women are more likely to be injured or die in a crash (which the automaker attributes to the fact that most vehicles are tested using dummies that more resemble males). The data was also made available through an open source license, giving anyone the ability to view the research and incorporate it into their designs.

Follows said that while there was a lot of campaigns that highlighted “breakthrough on a budget” and collaborative work, there was a lack of entrants representing long-term strategy, as well as ones that ran in multiple markets. The Grand Prix, however, was a great example of how great creative strategy isn’t always about simply showing how a campaign got from point A (the insight) to point B (the final creative product) through its use of historical data to create something that could continue to built upon for years to come.

“We are all kind of in the moment and all about immediacy,” Follows said. “But also, who is the curator of the corporate knowledge or the brand knowledge? When people are doing these jobs for 12 months, where does that [long-term] knowledge reside? We keep an archive of the work, but who’s keeping an archive of the intelligence and creative strategy that goes along with it?