Toyota IQ Font Wins Design Grand Prix

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CANNES, France ( -- "IQ Font," a project for Toyota from Happiness, Brussels, that brought together typography, design, advertising and technology, captured the design Grand Prix at the 57th annual Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival today.

WHAT IT IS: To promote the agility of the Toyota IQ, Happiness worked with type designers Damien & Pierre from graphic design company PleaseLetMeDesign; software developer and digital artist Zach Lieberman; and racing driver Stef van Campenhoudt to create a font generated from virtual tracks made by the compact car.

Mr. Van Campenhoudt drove a specially kitted IQ around a hangar, under direction from the designers. The car was filmed by an overhead camera, and Mr. Lieberman had created software to track the car's movements so that its alphabet-shaped turns were translated into a typeface. A making of video was posted online, and viewers were invited to download the font -- and book an IQ test drive -- on the Toyota website. The video was picked up by a range of design, technology and auto blogs. According to the case study video, the font was downloaded 24,000 times, and there were around 2,300 test drive requests.

WHY IT WON: The winner represented "typography, which is the essence of graphic design," said jury chair Steff Geissbuhler. "It's very sophisticated, and it's certainly innovative. I call this true design in all ways." Mr. Geissbuhler also called the Grand Prix winner the "perfect marriage" of design and advertising. The initiative communicated the agility of the car, said juror Joachim Souter, head of design at Berlin's Art & Com, the company behind last year's much awarded Kinetic Sculpture for BMW. "The DNA of the car is seen in the font," said Mr. Souter said.

OTHER GRAND PRIX CONTENDERS: While IQ Font was the undisputed winner, jurors considered a total of nine entries for the Grand Prix honor. Those contenders included "Mars Messages" from FHV BBDO Amserdam, which saw the agency design a logo-less wrapper for the chocolate bar and invite consumers to design their own labels using stickers with a full set of characters in the Mars typeface. Jurors also acknowledged the "Quitting Calendar," a brand ID and recruitment effort from Jung von Matt, Hamburg. The agency gave job prospects a 365-day calendar, with each tear-off page a creative letter of resignation.

LIONS TOTALS: In addition to the Grand Prix, the jury gave out 20 Gold, 17 Silver and 20 Bronze Lions.

THE JURY: Mr. Geissbuhler, a partner at New York design consultancy C&G Partners, led the 16-person jury, which was mainly made up of senior players from design companies, along with design-leaning creatives from the ad agency world.

AN EMERGING CATEGORY: Mr. Geissbuhler noted that the design category, only in its third year, is still evolving. He said that in its first year the category was dominated by ad work, while entries now represent more of a mix of design and advertising. A quick glance at the results, though, indicates that, while there was more real "design" work among the winners this year, the vast majority of entrant companies are still ad agencies.

The jury said that all of the Lion winners were a "convergence of design and idea." Juror Elsie Nanji from Mumbai's Red Lion noted that the entries "which were really 'ad ads,' where they looked like advertising ideas, just dropped out. Simply because they were just too advertising- rather than design-focused."

A NEW BRAND ID FOR CANNES? At one point during the press conference, Mr. Geissbuhler suggested that the Cannes event should change its name to the International Advertising and Design Festival. Later, festival chair Terry Savage said a name change was, in fact, being considered and quietly floated; on the last page of this year's festival program, the Cannes logo appears with the line: "Hope to see you next year at Cannes Lions 58th festival of creativity."

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