Cannes Lions

Top Prize in Innovation Goes To MegaFon's Pavilion in Sochi

Russia's First Grand Prix Used Giant Selfies To Let Users Create Own Olympic Experience

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The innovation jury awarded their Grand Prix to a giant, high tech selfie in the form of a sponsor's pavilion at the Sochi Olympics that generated 3D images of people who snapped and uploaded their own headshots that were then posted onto the side of the building.The sponsor, Russia's wireless marketer MegaFon, also got to showcase its mobile technology. The entry "Megafaces Pavilion at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games" was the first Grand Prix ever won by Russia, and the first from an architecture firm, Asif Khan Ltd. In London.

WHAT IT IS: Inspired by the notion of selfies, MegaFone's pavilion was built with the capability to show enormous 3D images of the selfies people shot of themselves in one of seven photo booths by the pavilion, or in one of the photo booths that traveled to 30 cities in Russia so that even people who didn't go to the Olympic Games could participate.

One thing the jury really liked was the way the pavilion project blurred the lines between digital and real experiences, a trend for the future.

WHY IT WON: "It was a very dramatic beautiful piece of work", said jury president Tom Bedecarre. It used cutting edge photography, was able to stream content immediately, and made good use of integration with peoples' mobile devices, he said.

The pavilion met the jury's three goals for the Grand Prix: breakthrough technology; an idea that could be scaled rather than a one-off execution as seen in many other Cannes categories; and work that empowers creativity. Mr. Bedecarre said a fourth, private requirement among the judges was "Is this a business I would invest in?"

THE JURY: Although chaired by AKQA Chairman Tom Bedecarre, this unusual 10-person jury was comprised mostly of technology experts and venture capitalists. Mr. Bedecarre wasn't kidding when he said, "There are several investment proposals floating around. We've had internal debates about who gets to approach who."

LIONS AWARDED: Before Cannes, the jury whittled more than 200 entries down to 30 finalists and ultimately just three Lions, the fewest winners in any category. Innovation is the only jury that requires finalists to make an in-person presentation at Cannes. Each of the 30 finalists made a 10-minute pitch to the jury, and then was grilled for 10 minutes by the judges. (A pro tip for finalists from Mr. Bedecarre: Make sure your team includes someone who can answer engineering questions, as well as someone who is a decent presenter).

The innovation category drew the most diverse group of entrants. Mr. Bedecarre said the finalists included "inventors, designers, data scientists, ad people, client marketing people and software engineers."

OTHER CONTENDERS: Although MegaFone's Megafaces Pavilion was the clear favorite, the judges raved about the other three winners from the U.S., Brazil and France.

"Babolat Play" by Ogilvy France was a connective tennis racket that takes wearable technology to the next level. "Points" was a sign entered by Breakfast, New York, that gives passerbs relevant information about what's going on.

The most brand-oriented winner was "Fiat Live Store" by AgenciaClick Isobar, Sao Paulo. It aimed at prospective car buyers interested in doing a virtual tour of a Fiat model and used "a headset more robust than Google Glass," said judge Oliver Palmer, head of innovation at Tigerspike in Singapore. Users could log on from a computer anywhere in the world, and instruct a specially-trained Fiat technician who was in the company's showroom and equipped with the special headset. A user might want to look in the trunk, or open the door. The idea was to replicate the showroom experience without actually being there.

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