Cannes 2012

R/GA's Nike+ Fuelband Wins Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes Lions

Digital Domain's Virtual Tupac, Colombia's Armed Forces and Kraft's Homeless Man Also Take Prizes

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One of the festival favorites, R/GA's Nike + Fuelband, won the titanium Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival after picking up a Cyber Grand Prix earlier in the week. The Nike work was also awarded one of two integrated Gold Lions; there was no Grand Prix in the integrated category, which is judged along with titanium by the same jury.

WHAT IT IS: The basis for the campaign is that everything you do counts. The simple wristband lets people track the "fuel" they use in every activity during the day through a single button, measuring calories, steps and timing, and tracking their performance on the Nike + platform.

An ad for Fuelband.
An ad for Fuelband.

WHY IT WON: "When Nike + was introduced, it was for runners," said Jury President Rob Reilly, chief creative officer and partner at CP&B. "Nike + Fuelband takes a thing that was for runners and makes it into a mass product. It's such a massive idea."

THE JURY: The 10-person titanium and integrated jury is the festival's smallest, and the only one, said festival CEO Philip Thomas, chosen by the festival based solely on the individual's track record in the industry, without the usual deliberate balancing of holding companies, agency networks and countries.

CONTROVERSY OR CLEAR WINNER? For titanium, Nike + Fuelband was a clear favorite, although the "Virtual 2Pac" entry in which long-dead rapper Tupac Shakur gave a new live performance thanks to technology, was lauded as a concept that might help re-invent a troubled music industry. In general, though, the discussion was more about how "so many more were close to being titanium, at least 10," Mr. Reilly said.

TOTAL NUMBER OF LIONS AWARDED: Nineteen. A titanium Grand Prix, four titanium Lions, and 14 integrated Lions, including two Gold, five Silver and seven Bronze Lions.

WHY WAS THERE NO INTEGRATED GRAND PRIX?: In a somewhat odd rationale, Mr. Reilly said both Nike + Fuelband and Droga5's Prudential campaign highlighting the first day of retirement were equally strong in different ways as integrated campaigns, so it was decided to give neither one the Grand Prix, and instead make them the only two Gold Lions.

WHO ELSE DID WELL: Although Mr. Reilly highlighted that the 19 winners came from 12 countries, the U.S. won eight Lions, including the titanium Grand Prix, two of the four titanium Lions, and both Gold Lions in the integrated category.

Colombia, where the country's Armed Forces have emerged as a surprising award winner over the last few years, thanks to campaigns designed to encourage armed fighters to desert the FARC guerrilla movement, was singled out for "Rivers of Light." At Christmas, DDB Colombia sent thousands of small transparent balls filled with messages and small gifts down the rivers traversed by the guerrilla forces that hide out in the jungle to remind them of the families and homes they miss.

"The only way to reach guys in the middle of the jungle is using the rivers," said Fernando Vega Olmos, a judge and chairman of JWT's worldwide creative council. "They don't have smartphones, or technology."

The Armed Forces campaigns are a striking contrast to the many technology-heavy winners at the festival. Another campaign by DDB Colombia won a Silver Lion in the new branded-content category by embedding a morse code message in radio programs to reassure hostages taken prisoner by the FARC guerrillas that they have not been forgotten (the guerrilla forces do have radios). Hostages who knew morse code passed along the message of hope to fellow prisoners.

The jury also loved Kraft's Titanium-winning rescue of homeless man and former radio announcer Ted Williams, who was made the voice of Kraft's macaroni and cheese in an effort by CP&B. Judges admired as "incredibly brave" the way Kraft stuck by Mr. Williams, rather than dropping him from the campaign, after he lapsed and ended up back in rehab.

WHAT THEY DIDN'T LIKE: When a journalist asked why so many winners are from the U.S., Brazilian judge Mario D'Andrea, partner and chief creative officer of Fischer & Friends in Sao Paulo, cited three reasons: "The amount of entries -- it's mathematical; the quality of the idea; and time. You have to dedicate time to develop the idea, and we're not doing that in Brazil. Some countries are." The U.S. accounted for 136 of the category's 517 entries, three times as many as the U.K., with 45 entries, but no winners.

LOOKING TO NEXT YEAR: Rob Schwartz, chief creative officer of TBWA/Chiat/Day, predicts a steady climb in Titanium-worthy ideas from around the world. He especially liked the number of ideas the jury saw that are trying to solve real human problems, such as promoting peace.

GRAND PRIX FOR GOOD: The Grand Prix for Good, which the titanium/integrated jury selects from the Gold winners across all categories, went to Help Remedies' "Help I Want to Save a Life," created by Droga5 copywriter Graham Douglas. A new addition to the pharmaceutical company's design-minded product line, it unites band-aids and bone marrow donor kits in attempt to make the most of an otherwise forgettable incident -- the idea being, you've already cut yourself, so why not put that drop of blood to good use? The project earned awards in the promo/activation and direct categories earlier this week. Douglas was inspired to create the idea by his twin brother, who went through his own struggle to find a bone marrow donor. The Festival added the Grand Prix for Good award in 2010 to honor charity and public service work, which is not eligible to earn the Grand Prix in the other categories.

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