Cannes Lions

An Odd Soccer Field and Public Pay Phones Win Design Prizes

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Two emerging markets—Thailand and Colombia—won their first Grand Prix awards at the main Cannes Lions festival, the first for an unusually-shaped soccer field and the second for repurposing old-fashioned public telephones to bring financial services to the poorest Colombians.

WHAT IT IS: Property development company AP Thailand won the Design Grand Prix by finding a creative use for vacant space to benefit the local community with the insight that a soccer field doesn't have to be the traditional rectangle shape. Instead, an oddly-shaped soccer pitch was dropped into the middle of a city between tall buildings, giving kids a place to play and stay out of trouble.

WHY IT WON: "It's very clean," Sandra Planeta, president of the Design jury and founder-creative director of Sweden's Planeta Design. "It's so purposeful, and useful design. It's human."

WHAT IT IS: Colombia won a Grand Prix at a previous Health Lions festival but the country's first Grand Prix at the main event is in the Product Design category, for Tigo-Une's "Payphone Bank" by Grey Colombia. The telecom company turned 13,000 cast iron pay phones from the turn of the century into a micro-savings system for the poorest in Colombia, where 8 million people earn an average of $3.50 a day, and are completely left out of the financial services system. Now they can go to a Une store to activate an account, then deposit their earnings, which are mostly coins, into the public phone and their own microsavings account. That account can be used to pay utility bills, buy public transit tickets, and even get micro-loans at stores to buy basic appliances like a refrigerator.

WHY IT WON: "It's helping a lot of people in one country, and could be very meaningful for other countries," said Ruth Berktold, president of the Product Design jury and owner of Yes Architecture in Germany.

NOTABLE NEWS: At the press conference, the jury was asked if they were aware that certain of the features touted in the case study, such as the ability to get micro-loans, weren't really available. Berktold said that as a jury with "so many product designers in the room," judges did have questions about the features, even tracking down the client, who was in India, and that their concerns were resolved.

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