Three campaigns rose to the top of Cannes' Cyber category in 2014: the 24-hour music video for Pharrell's massively popular track "Happy," created out of Iconoclast, Paris; Chipotle's "The Scarecrow" integrated campaign from CAA Marketing and, not surprisingly, Volvo's "Live Test" online films promoting the brand's trucks, created out of Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors.
What won: The jury has the option to award up to three Grand Prix a year in the categories of Cyber Craft, The Web; Branded Games/Branded Tech; Integrated Multi-Platform Campaign and Social.
Pharrell's music video took the top prize in the first category. The music video is a 24-hour interactive sequence showing Pharrell, and 300 people -- famous, and not so much -- dancing around Los Angeles to the popular tune over the course of a day. It was directed by We Are from L.A., produced out of Iconoclast and creative directed by Yoann Lemoine.
Chipotle's "The Scarecrow," created by CAA Marketing, earned the Cyber Grand Prix in the sub-category of Integrated/Multiplatform Campaign. It kicked off with a gorgeous, animated film but continued to step up its message through an equally impressive branded game.
Taking a third Grand Prix, in the Social category, was Volvo's "Live Test" series from Forsman & Bodenfors and directed by Andreas Nilsson. It comprises ongoing online films that use increasingly outrageous tactics to demonstrate the features of the brand's commercial trucks. Among them were a video that showed the president of the company, Claess Nilsson, dangling from the hook of a truck suspended above Gothenburg harbor. Another showed a hamster steering one of the vehicles. And of course there was the super-viral hit starring Jean-Claude Van Damme doing an "Epic Split" on two backwards-driving trucks.
Why They Won: Jury President Susan Bonds, CEO of 42 Entertainment, said the "Happy" video rose to the top of many categories. Outside of the Grand Prix, it took five Gold Lions for its overall asthetics, microsite and interactive video, among other areas. "But what was really amazing about it was it was an online experience that evoked emotional response and behavior," she said. "The interface was seamless."
As for Chipotle's "The Scarecrow," juror Joe Alexander, CCO at the Martin Agency, noted that the campaign achieved the difficult task of living up to its much-celebrated predecessor "Back to the Start."
"We were knocked out by the follow-up to that piece, and it's always hard to beat something that already won a Grand Prix," he said.
What stood out was not just the craft -- "The animation met the industry standard of Pixar," he said -- but the overall integration as well. "What really brought this to another level was the gaming aspect, which reinforced the brand message and took it to another level."
Volvo's campaign was an easy win in the Social category. "Social is a huge part of Cyber these days, and when you consider what the biggest thing people shared and talked about this year, the one piece that stood out was the Volvo Test series," said juror Tony Hogqvist, creative director at Perfect Fools, Sweden, "I think it's unbelievable, considering the fact that it's business-to-business, but it's also just a truck that made an upgrade. To literally make it the most sexy piece that exists on the planet is wonderful. It launched one feature after another, with people always expecting the bar to be raised, and we all know how it ended, with the unbelievable 'Epic Split.' This was a worthy winner, and one of the best works made last year."
The Jury: Ms. Bonds oversaw a group of 24 jurors from 22 different countries, including two each from the U.S. and the U.K.
Trends of Note: Juror Joe Alexander said that what stood out this year was the content itself. "It was interesting that we saw fewer websites, and a lot more content," he noted. The jury also said that breadth of storytelling in this year's entries was notable, with campaigns not just relying on "words" and traditional filmic formats. Campaigns like Honda's "Sound of Senna" via Dentsu and National Geographic's "Killing Kennedy" from Mullen and Mediahub incorporated refreshing techniques and modes of interactivity to immerse viewers in new ways, they said.
Another campaign that stood out was "Sweetie," for Terre des Hommes, via Lemz, Netherland. The campaign took a daring approach to addressing online child pornography, using an interactive 3-D avatar of a 10-year-old Filipino girl as a way to identify 1,000+ abuses of internet child porn. The campaign only made more clear the potential for industry creative professionals to do good and change the world, one of the biggest themes from the festival last year. "Not only is this a great craft case, it's a great impact case," said juror Wesley Ter Haar of MediaMonks, whose company helped create the campaign. "Everyone agreed that this changed our industry and changed the ambition of what we do as an industry."