Cannes Lions

Jay-Z, Apple and a moving history 'lesson' earn Cannes Lions Entertainment Grand Prix

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Jay-Z's music video tribute to his mother, Apple's stunning Spike Jonze-directed "Welcome Home" film, and a moving integrated campaign from Dutch telecom brand KPM that makes a historical moment relevant for young viewers earned Grand Prix in the Cannes Lions Entertainment categories.

The Entertainment Lions are meant to celebrate creativity that "turns content into culture." In the case of this year's winner, that culture-creating idea was also an educational one. "Evert_45" is an integrated campaign from Dutch telecom brand KPN and agency N=5 Amsterdam. It uses modern day forms of communication -- like social media and YouTube -- to bring World War II stories of Dutch veterans to life for younger generations. Jury President Debbi Vandeven, global chief creative officer of VML, said that during judging, the jurors had two criteria: Is the brand relevant? And is the work something that drives culture?

The Grand Prix winner quickly rose to the top, amidst all the others, she said. "Why we decided on this piece of content has to do with the fact that it is about the brand playing a part of lives in a different way. You don't have to have your brand running through every piece of content to matter to people," she said. Moreover, she said the work is inspiring in that it preserves as old story through new generations.

In the category of Entertainment Lions for Music, which honors creative musical collaborations and original music content, the jury, led by Lori Feldman, exec VP of strategic marketing, Warner Brothers Records, awarded two Grand Prix.

One went to Jay-Z's music video for his track "Smile," a moving and provocative short film directed by Smuggler's Miles Jay, which tells the story of his mother Gloria Carter's struggle to hide her homosexuality as she raised her son. In the end, she herself appears in the video, delivering an uplifting poem: "Living in the Shadows."

The work brought Feldman to tears as she explained why it delivered. It was remarkable for "one of the singular most important people in hip-hop culture to take on that issue with such honesty and integrity," she said.

Another Grand Prix went to Apple's stunning "Welcome Home" ad. Directed by Spike Jonze, it features FKA Twigs escaping her dreary 9-to-5 world when she summons Siri on her HomePod to play something that will give her a lift. Anderson Paak's "Til It's Over" kicks in, and her world opens up in unexpected ways.

Music was at the core of this campaign," Feldman said. "The entirety of the film is built around the song, the craft is undeniable, and the brand is at the center of the action in such a simple, unique way. One sentence spoken to the HomePod changed her entire world."

Music juror Jocelyn Brown, executive producer Squeak E Clean Productions, noted that one of the other contenders for a top prize was Spotify's out-of-home campaign celebrating David Bowie that ran in New York City subways during the time of his exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. "I didn't know until I got into the judging room that Spotify was behind it. I thought it was a campaign from the museum," she said.

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