Cannes Lions Entries Show How Vital Mobile Has Become

Key Lessons from the Cannes Mobile Lions Shortlist

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It's amazing how much you can learn in a darkened room. Five days in a basement in Cannes has demonstrated just how essential mobile has become to our business, both as a platform in its own right and as the foundation for work in other channels.

A team led by Jury Chair Malcolm Poynton, chief global chief creative officer at Cheil Worldwide, whittled down 1,259 entries to 123 shortlists, 62 Lions and one Grand Prix.

What we discovered was not just the scale of the creativity that exists in mobile but crucially, the way our industry is applying the latest technology to deliver powerful messages, faster than ever.

From tech to advertising to consumer is an increasingly short journey. VR only truly hit widespread awareness at the end of last year when the first dedicated headsets started to launch, for example.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, the mobile business showcased the products and the creative community has responded with killer uses for inspiration of the greater good, with around 50% of the shortlist made up of charity, NGO and purpose-driven campaigns.

We recognized this rapid adoption with our Grand Prix winner, The New York Times' VR campaign, featuring advertising from GE and Mini. With one million cardboard viewers distributed to home-delivery subscribers, the app downloads hit record levels in the first five days.

This rapid adoption of new technology was seen in other areas, with location technology applied to tools such as Vodafone's "Smart Jacket" cycling jackets. Consumers could enter routes into their phones and giant indicators would light up on the jacket, showing the cyclist their route without having to look at the phone. The lights also warned drivers of the cyclist's route to provide a safer ride for all.

Similar technology has been applied by Volvo, using the location of the car as a potential delivery option for online shopping, a campaign that was shortlisted.

There were other key lessons about mobile from the Cannes Mobile Lions entries. Data increasingly underpins how and where our messages should be distributed, but the use of real-time data has often been less sophisticated than it might be. Offers as we walk past the local fast food chain are all very well, but they don't click the creativity button.

What does click that button is the Gold Lion winning campaign for Sydney Opera House, an iconic building that visitors to Australia love to take pictures of but rarely actually go inside. This campaign targeted anyone posting a picture to social media and sent them a real-time message inviting them to "Come on In".

We also learned that wearables have a huge creative opportunity. For all the doubts about their ability to scale and find a must-have niche, don't ignore the power of creative thinking that can be applied to this field.

I've never seen a blind swimming race, but Samsung's Gold Lion-winning "Blind Cap" has transformed the sport. It's a device that detects when blind swimmers are approaching the end of the pool and tells them to turn. By replacing a sponge ball on a stick that coaches used to use to signal it was time to turn, this wearable has given these athletes their dignity back.

But mobile doesn't have to be technology led. Latin American beer brand Abraxas simply asked consumers to turn their torch on to find out more about a beer that is only brewed twice a year. The shortlisted campaign allowed consumers to shine their torch through a print ad to discover more about this very rare brew.

What mobile -- particularly social-led mobile campaigns -- always needs to do, however, is connect culturally. No one did this better than the "Straight Outta Compton" campaign to celebrate the story of Beats founder Dr Dre. The work created an opportunity for consumers to be Straight Outta California or Straight Outta Connecticut. The Gold Lion winner scored by giving consumers the tools to allow everyone celebrate where they came from.

My underlying takeaway, however, is how quickly mobile responds and adapts to new technology and creative opportunity.

We've come a long way from the first Mobile Grand Prix in 2012, which allowed consumers to "Share a Coke" with strangers. A great idea for its time, but this year it would have been lucky to make the shortlist.

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