Nike's Paper Battlefield wins Design Grand Prix

By Published on .

There was no lack of technological innovation represented among the 1100-plus Design Lions entries this year, but in awarding the Grand Prix to Nike's "Paper Battlefield," the 2009 jury saluted a platform that dates back to the tenth century -- the silk screen.

Created out of McCann Worldgroup Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Paper Battlefield is a series of posters created by and featuring the teenage stars of the Nike Basketball League. The posters were designed to capture the energy of basketball competition as well as promote the games. Photos of the top ten league players in action formed the templates for the posters. The players themselves were then invited to a studio to create custom poster designs -- silk screening the images on top of one another in various combinations. As the case study video and the judges noted, "the posters became the battlefield."

The design jury, lead by Sylvia Vitale Rotta of Team Creatif in France, cited the campaign for its simplicity, its culture-spanning communication power and for embodying the marketer's brand values. Jurors also lauded the effort for pushing the idea of what a poster can be. "It was a new way of approaching poster design," said Jennifer Morla of Morla Design in San Francisco. "It was socially distributed design process," said juror Marc Shillum of R/GA. "It allowed the players to experiment and to have a battle as they would on the court."

The design jury was reasonably generous, awarding a total of 22 Gold, 23 Silver and 37 Bronze Lions. Among the four U.S. Gold winners: the Nokia Vine brand identity/mobile application from R/GA, Fallon's social media aggregator, Skimmer, a Buick style guide from Leo Burnett Chicago and Sapient's interactive touchscreen vending machines for Coke. The U.S. won 11 Lions in all.

Gold Lions also went to BMW's Kinetic Sculpture from Art+Com Berlin, which has scooped up a host of prizes this year including a Black Pencil at D&AD. Germany won 12 Lions in total, making it the most awarded country in design. The Zimbabwean's Trillion Dollar Campaign effort, which won the Outdoor Grand Prix, was also awarded a Gold Design Lion.

The design winners list is notable for the number of ad agencies credited versus design companies per se, and many of the winning entries do tend, as they did last year, to originate more in the advertising than the design space.

Vitale Rotta said the overall calibre of entries was high in this the second year that Cannes has recognized design as a category (and entries in the design category were actually up this year, in contrast to awards entries in general which have dipped with the economy).

There were three other entries in contention for the Grand Prix said Vitale Rotta, though a cagey jury wouldn't reveal their identities. In selecting Paper Battlefield, the design jury seemed to echo other Cannes juries' predilection for simplicity over technical virtuosity or category-busting innovation. "We liked that it was actually kind of low tech," said one of the design jurors. "It was just full of life and joy and energy. If we could have taken one thing home with us, that would have been it."
Most Popular
In this article: