Inside the Jury Room: Film, Mobile and Audio

Dave Douglass, Jenny Glover and Marilou Aubin close off the week with a dive into their categories and the work that left a mark.

Cannes 13

For this year’s Cannes Lions, strategy asked the Canadian jurors to take our readers behind the curtain of the jury rooms, where deliberations took place across continents and timezones. Here, each of the experts in their fields dissect the category they judged and also reveal the campaign that inspired them most this year. 

Film

By Dave Douglass, ECD, Anomaly

When I was asked as a shortlist juror to write about trends and themes in the Cannes Film work we just judged my mind immediately went to remote shooting or a pre-shoot q-tip to the brain, but as I watched more and more amazing films it quickly shifted to the resilience of people… more specifically, production people.

Dave DouglassIn going through all the work submitted for both 2020 and 2021 I was in awe of the quality and level of production given everything we’ve been through, as anyone in the industry could attest given the extreme restrictions and rules. All the great film work underscores how truly resourceful the creative/production community are. The five-hour iPhone tour of the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg is as artful as anything in the museum. Even more beautifully shot work for SickKids with “This is Why” or the Air Pods “Bounce” city shot entirely in camera.

As I watched spot after spot, I could see our collective story arc reflected in the work. Starting with the standout Facebook film launched at the beginning of lockdown, “We’re never lost when we find each other” – which showed us what was possible and that we could still actually make films – followed by Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” and gradually making my way to the musical number about finishing Netflix – it was like reliving the past year in commercial form.

I was similarly inspired and heartened by a lot of big brands trying to make a difference; banks celebrating the transgender or non-binary community, packaged goods companies widening our view of diversity and inclusion, beer brands making full-length feature films on gender imbalance, and clever demonstrations highlighting the gender pay gap. This work should be celebrated so it inspires more of it.

So, a huge congrats to all those that received a medal today as, essentially, it’s like taking home two Lions as you were selected from two years of impressive work. But even if you didn’t you should still take your production team out for a proper wrap dinner as they deserve a medal for getting us all through this.

Juror Pick

Lacoste “Corcodile Inside” by BETC Paris
Country: France

Radio & Audio

By Jenny Glover, ECD, Juniper Park\TBWA

And the winner in the ear category is…

A few years back I wrote an article entitled “Defending Bea Arthur” in which I valiantly stood up for the much-slated and unfashionable radio category.

Well, I’m glad to report that the Radio & Audio category at Cannes Lions is now officially cool.

JENNY-GLOVERFirst off, I think it’s probably time to officially change the name of the category. Where once radio dominated, this category has now become completely channel agnostic. If anything, I’d broadly define it as the ear category.

As always, the actual work is the best proof of my wildly unsubstantiated theories.

Sick Beats” from gaming accessory company Woojer is a great example of the kind of work that is redefining the category. Essentially an adaptation of haptic gaming technology, Woojer created a vest that turns playlists into lung-clearing therapy for kids with cystic fibrosis. It’s a genius concoction of product innovation, use of music, soundwave technology, emotional jurors and most importantly, the potential to have meaningful impact.

Saylists” from Warner Music Group is another game changer. In an idea that I refer to as the “sneaky veg of speech therapy,” Warner collated music playlists that identify the repetitive sounds that form the basis of speech therapy. Essentially, replacing “she sells seashells on the seashore,” with Lizzo.

Within the context of the pandemic, it was evident that sound and audio stepped in for live, face-to-face interactions as a new way to connect. “Radio Recliner” for Bridge Senior Living approached this new social nuance by creating an old-timey pirate radio station. It’s an idea that is so right for its audience, and so full of charm and heart that it’s not hard to see why it made the cut.

There were plenty of entries that used science as a creative starting point, but one of my favourite pieces was “Beck’s Frequency” for Beck’s (see juror pick below). It’s an inspired solution to the dreaded product sampling brief and the sheer pluck of the approach earned it real respect in the jury room.

The “Hy Project” for Toyota is just one example of the growing trend of sonic branding, with brands now placing serious consideration of how sound can be incorporated into their identities.

The perennial “let’s make a song” trend is still going strong but for the most part the work is painfully lame. A notable exception is a Canadian entry, “Lost Tapes of the 27 Club” for Over the Bridge by Rethink (which won a Silver and Bronze in the category on Thursday). This work is a perfect marriage of smart idea and flawless execution. I might not understand the fine arts of layering or curling, but this piece made me proud to be a kinda-sorta Canadian (Ed note: Glover is originally from South Africa). Another local winner was the “Won’t Wake the Baby” Spotify ads for Ikea – again by Rethink and which also won a Bronze yesterday – that used native advertising with witty insight.

Finally, the lesser-spotted radio campaign, Burger King’s “Confusing Times” is evidence that there is always a place for brilliant writing.

The collection of winners gives you a perfect bird’s eye view of the category, industry and world over the past two years, but I would argue that the real trends to watch are the ones that aren’t even on the shortlist yet.

I’m excited for the creative potential of sound and audio to deliver work that, as the kids would say, is savage.

Juror Pick

“Beck’s Frequency” by AKQA
Country: Brazil

Mobile

By Marilou Aubin, partner, VP, ECD, Lg2

At the outset, I have to say that our Mobile jury was particularly great. I was amazed by the generosity of each member, fully committed to rewarding work that had real impact. Everyone went the extra mile to try the mobile experiences by themselves, Google the results, identify cultural insights, read user comments and reviews. You need a great case study to get onto the shortlist, and you need a really great project to get a Lion.

Before we started the review process, we met and established our key criteria, based on the following questions: Does the idea exhibit mobile-first thinking (an important criterion considering everything is now on mobile)? Is it brilliantly crafted and does it define what’s next for mobile? Is it inclusive?

Marilou_lg2 (1)One last important question we asked as a jury: was the experience worth it? Given the time that people spend on their screens, especially this year, to what extent is the project we’re looking at worth spending a little more time? It doesn’t mean that the project has to be “useful,” but simply not “gimmicky” and meaningless in the end. To quote one juror: “It’s not the nicest tech or the strongest use of data that stood out, but what brands made with it.”

Many brands took a stand and undertook projects for the better good. A really strong theme this year was “Making the world accessible to everyone.” Amazing mobile work was designed to help people with disabilities interact more easily with the world. The fact that mobile phones are becoming more powerful is probably one enabler of this trend. For example, Project Guideline (see case below) uses machine learning to help a blind athlete run a marathon independantly.

But some of the greatest accessibility projects simply used basic functions such as vibrations for Samsung’s Good Vibes. Another good example of making the world more accessible is “Naming the Invisible” in Pakistan. It gave millions of people access to the most basic form of data allowing them to exist in this world: a name and a date of birth. We were struck by the simplicity and the impact of this project and its overall relevance to the brand.

Another huge trend this year, mostly related to 5G, is the quality of the AR experiences, whether it’s the Met Unframed, the live AR event for JFK Moonshot, or the “Unignorable Tower,” a Canadian project the jury loved for its brilliant use of data and AR, giving it a Bronze on Thursday. It will be hard in the future not to include AR in a visitor experience.

And between all these massive pieces another Canadian project really stood out for its simplicity and creativity: “Receats” for Good Fortune, where the restaurant renamed its menu items to office supplies (the campaign also won a Bronze yesterday).

One thing that surprised me was how few entries used voice this year. I remember working in digital between 2001 and 2005 when everyone kept announcing the web’s future was in mobile. Years went by and nothing happened until the iPhone was launched and changed everything. Now we keep hearing that the future of mobile is voice activated. We have all the tools necessary to make voice much more central to the mobile experience. And yet no project really stood out in this category. I wonder whether “Project Understood” could have made this category more interesting.

Some people worry that Cannes Lions are just about good causes now. But why not? The industry did jump in to help everyone cope with the COVID pandemic and had an enormous impact. Brands are now in a position to leverage their products and services to become true leaders in making the world a better place.

Juror Pick

Google’s “Project Guideline”
Country: USA