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AKQA's Nick Turner on His Bets for Cannes

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Executive Creative Director at AKQA talks about his Cannes Contenders

AKQA's Nick Turner on His Bets for Cannes

It’s a privilege and an honor to be a judge at Cannes Lions 2014. After the third day of judging the Cyber Lions, I have been bombarded with a year’s worth of films, social campaigns, apps, banners, platforms, connected products and we’ve only seen a fifth of the work. There is good work, and then there is great work. 

You know when you’ve seen a great piece of work because you wish you had created it, and there’s an overwhelming sense of envy. It’s always the simple ideas communicated in a compelling way, which can usually be explained in 140 characters that stand out from everything else.

This year we are seeing more and more emotional storytelling enabled by technology. Some stories will be told in a creative way by technology, and some will use technology to enable the story to unfold. I have laughed out loud, and I have almost cried; one thing for sure is that I have been humbled by lots of genuinely original work. 


The Impossible Family Portrait

This is the story of Denis, who left Uganda to travel to America. He has left his family and most importantly his son behind. It’s a heart-warming story of how Skype allows him to stay connected with his family and share in their everyday life even though they are in different parts of the world. The finale of the film is when he stands next to a live projection of his family in Uganda, and there is a family portrait taken, including him. This film struck a chord with me because of what Skype has enabled me to do. A few years ago it allowed me to have the first phone call in 36 years with my mum. My mum is deaf and with Skype it allowed her to lip read and understand what I was saying and now we can speak whenever we want, wherever I am in the world.



Volvo Trucks – Epic split

This is the sixth installment of films from the Live Test campaign that highlights innovative features in Volvo trucks. In this film, we see Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two trucks reversing backwards to demonstrate the truck’s dynamic steering. It took just over 38 days to reach over 100 million views and spawned 100’s of YouTube parodies (including one from Chuck Norris doing the splits between two jumbo jets). 

What’s not to like about an epic stunt featuring a 1980’s kickboxing hero? Well, it could have been a bit naff and cheesy. However, this film has all the right ingredients for a great piece of entertaining content. The film is beautifully shot in the early morning sun with a great choice of location. Its well-crafted script is perfect for Van Damme. I hate finding the right soundtrack to anything, it takes me weeks; "only time" by Enya is a masterstroke.

A debate we were having today is whether it matters if the stunt is real or fake. Of course, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that this film has millions of people in conversations about Volvo trucks and has set a new benchmark for engaging film content.


Nissan IDx

Using Oculus Rifts cutting-edge virtual reality technology, Nissan has put the tools of car design in the hands of young drivers. Nissan IDx transformed every Tokyo Motor Show visitor into an automotive designer. Visitors stepped into an immersive 3D world that made crucial car design decisions easy to understand and contribute to. Answering a series of questions about yourself resulted in an IDx concept car designed unique to you. The strength in this idea lies in the fact that rather than just asking young drivers what they want in the design of future cars, Nissan has used a simple virtual reality interface to involve young drivers the design process. 


WestJet Christmas Miracle: real-time giving

We have seen lots of campaigns in the past of ‘random acts of kindness’, but this one tops them all. It all starts with WestJet airline passengers scanning their boarding pass at the departure gate and having a live video chat with Santa. He asks each passenger what he or she wants for Christmas. While the passengers take their flight the WestJet staff buys and wraps all the requested presents. In the baggage reclaim, rather than their luggage appearing, the presents they have asked for come out on the baggage carousel. Simple and genius. It’s a kind and caring gestures like this that make the world a better place. It shows a brand that cares about it passengers and makes the airline feel more human.

The film is classic storytelling with a happy ending. Half way through the film you know what is going to happen; you can feel the anticipation of what’s coming and finally you share the emotion of receiving an unexpected surprise. I bet the guy who only asked for socks is really kicking himself now.



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AKQA UK, Tue, 17 Jun 2014 12:33:50 GMT