A look back at Cannes 2021

A look back at Cannes 2021

Content & Innovation
6 minute read

Cannes is the annual celebration of all that is good about marketing and advertising. This year’s awards were virtual but that didn’t mean there weren’t great insights or learnings to share.

Four Lions judges share their experience of what they learned in some of the newer categories that were celebrated this year. From Creative Strategy to Creative eCommerce and Creative Data to Creative Business Transformation, they celebrate where the bar for great work lies in 2021.

Article details

  • Author:WFA


2 August 2021

Creative eCommerce

By Maria Mujica, VP eCommerce LATAM, Mondelez

Maria Mujica

“The new kid on the block has earned its place. Creative eCommerce remains a new category at Cannes, but Covid has been a catalyst for ecommerce, which has risen to the occasion and showed how it can help to create new models that can sustainably bring brand growth forward. 

Here are my take outs on what distinguished the winners from the followers, brought to life by some cases that I loved:

  1. Born during Covid and here to stay. Small independent stores were greatly challenged by Covid. New business platforms, such as GP winner Tiendacerca, enabled them to keep open. It showed the power of ecommerce to create a new ecosystem, with big companies as enablers. This is an example of a network-based model, born and scaled during Covid, which will grow as we move forward.
  2. Disrupting a journey can re-position a brand. Provocative and purpose-led: the Raising Profiles case reflected ecommerce’s power to democratize access and help lower barriers. I came out appreciating the impact that a disruptive experience can have in building or repositioning a brand.
  3. Creativity hacks what a platform is supposed to do. Is Waze a social media platform? No, yes, who cares? This type of agnostic approach is very fruitful and Mastercard’s Roadside Market is a great example of how much more you can make out of existing platforms when you look at them creatively and with purpose. It is an inspiration to push the envelope and don’t get technical definitions limit your possibilities.
  4. Payment is the new moment of truth and creativity can help by spades. As boring as it may sound, I’m fascinated by the possibilities in this creative underdog space. It is the new moment of truth, because it’s not really commerce until you pay, right? KFC’s shift k+f+c campaign targeting gamers shows what creativity can do for this critical area in ecommerce, where there are still enormous frictions to address.”

Creative Strategy 

By Tanja Grubner, Global Marketing & Communications Director, Feminine Care, Global Brand, Innovation & Sustainability, Essity

Tanja Grubner

“It's only the second time that Creative Strategy Lions have been awarded. So, we, the pandemic jury, defined it as strategy that unlocks an irrefutably powerful creative solution. We hunted for work with impact to the business, brand and ideally to culture, for creativity that is strategic and strategy that is creative.

Three things stood out for me from judging this category:

  1. The fundamentals of creative strategy are more important than ever. Digging deep for the real problem at hand, unlocking a human, cultural, product or category insight that’s not only truthfully integral to the brand but also unlocks a unique creative solution and activating it in strategically brilliant ways with reach, focus and intensity, generates the strongest impact. 
  2. Bravery is crucial. Whether that’s finding the evidence to push an idea to fruition, taking a stance to champion a societal issue in ways that are right for the brand or taking a ‘boring’ brief and turning it on its head to unlock creativity.
  3. We need marketing to champion the human connection and represent a range of emotions: from bringing joy and lightness, to illuminating and pushing to solve the world’s biggest problems and everything in between. In a time when we keep talking about data and tech it’s important that we don’t forget about the human response to fuel creativity.”

The Creative Strategy Grand Prix went to ‘Can’t Touch This’ for Cheetos. Gold Lions winners were: The Connected Island (Three Ireland); Project Free Period (Stayfree Sanitary Napkins); What’s Your Name (Starbucks).

Creative Business Transformation

By Jon Wilkins, Managing Director, Accenture Interactive, Chairman, Karmarama

Jon Wilkins

“One of the hardest things about judging this category is differentiating between a short-term transformation and something that truly lasts. Great creative transformation should stand the test of time, and also require continual long-term action. Our thinking for judging creative business transformation was: If you’d just done an ad campaign, you weren’t going to win. If you’d done an ad campaign plus a digital platform, that wouldn’t be enough. If you did an ad campaign, a digital platform, and affected positive transformation in your staff, stakeholders and supply chain, you were getting somewhere. If you did all of that, and made a positive impact in the world, you were a winner.

Here are some of my key take-outs from Cannes:

  1. After Cannes 2021, there’s no purpose without sustainability. There was a common trend amongst the high-performing entrants: purpose and sustainability are becoming ever more closely entwined. It’s difficult to imagine a brand focusing on transformation which does not on some level acknowledge sustainability as a priority. The demand for sustainable brands is changing how we understand ‘purpose’.
  2. With great purpose comes great responsibility. Companies behind the successful entries have identified areas in their own business practices and supply chains for which they needed to take responsibility. Think how difficult it is to just change a large company’s communication, or its products? These brilliant ideas also changed the entire company ecosystem. So, the kind of transformation we’re talking about is holistic. We saw examples of several incumbents transforming categories themselves, rather than attempting to imitate challenger brands. It’s clearly no longer about who you’re challenging, it’s what you’re challenging.
  3. Action is the future of creative communication. Consumers are ever-more cynical of storytelling without action. The reality now is that companies are going to be judged on what they do, not what they say. Successful brands have always been storytellers - but in a modern context, those stories must be based on a record of provable, meaningful actions.”

Carrefour bagged the category’s Grand Prix with Act for Food. The Contract For Change for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold won a Gold Lion.

Creative Data

By Andreia Vaz, Head of CMI, Strategy and Innovation, Nestlé Portugal

Andreia Vaz

“The beauty of developing our craft over the years, is how much we see the world changing thanks to our work. Literally. Data has become our currency every day, everywhere. If two decades ago, data served as a means in the advertising world, today it has demonstrated it deserves to be celebrated as a piece of artistry itself. 

I was moved by seeing ingenious use of data and technology that was celebrated as much as verbal and visual artistry; by seeing that the ethical use of data generated such a positive impact around us on topics that we all are touched by in our lives: suicide, taboos, loneliness, hunger, climate change, work, dreams, sleep, communities support, entertainment (TV, Music, Gaming) and fun. It was great to see how creativity is starting from within the companies, going beyond creative agencies, and tackling social issues. I was moved by creative work that inspired people to shift their perspective and positively change behaviour around many of the problems and joys we experience every day and lived especially in the past year.

What is creativity for, if not to change the world, bit by bit with new energy and hope?”

The category’s Grand Prix was awarded to Warner Music Group for its Saylists campaign. Gold Lions went to For Seasons (NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester) and Laugh Tracker (Tennessee Department of Tourist Development).

Article details

  • Author:WFA


2 August 2021