Microsoft's Adaptive Controller for the Xbox, which featured in its emotive Super Bowl ad this year showing it enabling disabled kids to take part in video games, has won the Brand Experience & Activation Grand Prix at Cannes Lions.
The McCann New York campaign--that includes the Super Bowl spot produced by Hungry Man; YouTube instructional videos; and an e-sports tournament for gamers of all abilities--received 1.1 billion impressions, according to the brand’s case study.
The Grand Prix was awarded because it "not only changes the relationship the brand has with its consumers, but it has a disproportionate impact on people's lives," according to jury president Jaime Mandelbaum, Chief Creative Officer of VMLY&R Europe.“There were several contenders and some intense debate, but this was the one that really provided an end-to-end experience."
He added: "If you look at video games, it's the one thing where people can fly a plane, or drive a car in another reality, but these kids were finding yet another limitation. When Microsoft did is level-set the experience that they were having, and it generates a new relationship between them and their peers."
Although it was an emotive campaign (Mandelbaum said he noticed several people at the press briefing "tearing up" as the video was shown), that wasn’t why it was chosen, he told Ad Age. “It wasn’t like we saw that one and we were all crying–at some point you have to take a step back and look at what it’s actually doing for the brand."
Several other campaigns designed around accessibility won Gold Lions in the category, including Huawei’s and FCB Inferno’s “StorySign,” an app that helps deaf children to read, and Ikea’s adaptive furniture range “Thisables,” by McCann Tel Aviv, which won a Grand Prix on Monday for Health and Wellness.
Campaigns around inclusion are definitely a strong trend in this year’s entries, added Mandelbaum. “We are past the point of inclusion being done for the sake of awareness alone. Brands are really taking action and being part of the solution, not just talking about it: it’s almost the cost of entry for brands.”
However, he added that the jury found there was still often a "vast abyss" between the activation and the brand experience. “We felt the entries were slightly short on things that had an end-to-end customer experience and had thought through every single touchpoint.”