AKQA’s “Never Done Evolving” campaign for Nike, which used AI and machine learning to analyze Serena Williams’ evolution as a tennis player over time, won the Digital Craft Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Tuesday.
Nike’s ‘Never Done Evolving’ with Serena Williams scores Digital Craft Grand Prix
Timed to Williams’ retirement announcement last fall, the campaign created a matchup between 1999 Serena (from that year’s U.S. Open, her first Grand Slam) and 2017 Serena (from the Australian Open). Machine learning was able to model each era’s playing style—Williams’ decision-making, shot selection, reactivity, recovery and agility based on archival footage.
The agency then used Vid2Player technology, developed by Stanford University, to re-render the players from each generation into an entirely new scene and have them appear to be playing and responding to each other.
AKQA said the project served as a step toward a future of sports analytics for more human-readable data visualization—a new and accessible format for tennis experts to experience and interpret data.
“It is the epitome of digital craft,” said Resh Sidhu, global director of Arcadia Creative Studio at Snap, who served as the Digital Craft jury president. “It is the combination of creativity and technology and purpose, showcasing a Black female athlete who’s the ultimate GOAT.”
The other top contender for the Grand Prix also happened to be from AKQA—“Transparency Card” from AKQA São Paulo, which monitors politicians’ spending habits in Brazil by connecting to government databases. The card simplified the visualization and monitoring of political spending.
“Transparency Card” won a Gold Lion, as did two other campaigns—Spotify’s in-app “Wrapped” experience, developed in-house; and “Gorillaz Presents,” created with Google, which turned the world into a stage for the band using augmented reality.