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Cannes 2016: The View From Two Young Lions


AKQA's Graham Davis & Felipe Yamaoka share a few observations and experiences from their time at Cannes

Cannes 2016: The View From Two Young Lions

We’ve had a busy week in the South of France, competing in the Cyber Young Lions competition, meeting the next wave of industry talent recognised at the Future Lions competition, and seeing a tremendous amount of great work and speakers. We’ve also each set personal records for security pat downs endured and macaroons consumed over a seven-day period. While there are many ways to enjoy Cannes Lions, here are a few observations and experiences from our time here this week.

The Young Lions Competition

Truly a one of a kind experience, and perhaps the closest we get in our industry to the competitive spirit of the Olympics. Of course every team wants to win, but the overall vibe between the different representatives is actually quite friendly and supportive. We were thrilled to find out that our AKQA colleague and Brazil representative, Raphael Valenti, took home a Bronze in the Cyber category. 

But the experience definitely goes deeper than the competition’s 24-hour mad scramble for a medal. In a few days, we’ll be off to our respective countries and offices, focusing on the clients in our markets and languages. But right here, right now, we get to interact with some of the world’s top young creatives in the industry, becoming close friends with people from countries we’ve never even visited. Trading stories. Trading business cards. Turning 50 different national backgrounds into one shared sense of community. That is what makes this competition so rewarding.

VR Inspiration vs. VR Fatigue

As much as we wanted to avoid being another piece about VR, the actual reality is that it’s such a huge talking point at the festival that we have to at least touch on it. There were two VR talks that stood out to us: PlayStation’s Magic Lab gave us a glimpse into the thinking and innovation behind their new VR headsets and how it can push the gaming world to new possibilities. Framestore CCO Mike McGee and adam&eveDDB Digital Lead Karen Boswell also hosted a fantastic talk, giving us a clear agency viewpoint on where the technology can go as well as sharing examples (including Framestore’s multi-Lion winning “Field Trip To Mars” project) of the type of work that can be created when the clients have a clear understanding of the power of VR. But of course, after a week full of hearing the word “immersive” around every corner of the Palais, I think we are ready for a little break back in actual reality. 

The 1st Ever _______

The rapid advancement of technology has given birth to this familiar phrase seen on every other shortlisted board in the Palais. It’s meant to represent innovation and forward thinking, but it usually just comes off as a justification for why there is a need for this specific product or campaign in the first place. The people we are speaking to will be hooked in by our thoughtful, insight-driven work that uses creativity to drive sales, spark conversations, or deliver meaningful, memorable experiences. Being first alone isn’t enough to reach our consumers, nor is it something they really care about.

Why We Create

Beyond all of the parties, the schmoozing, and the buzzwords, there lies a collection of some of the most prolific work the world has seen in the past year. Work that inspires. Work that makes you jealous. Work that makes you want to catch the first flight home to get back to the office and start creating. Here are a few of the pieces that really stood out to us:

“Dreams Of Dalí” for The Dalí Museum by Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Exploring the mind of the acclaimed artist through a wildly imaginative and beautifully crafted VR experience. 

“Wonderful Life” for Ikea by Mother London

Built on such a simple truth and executed perfectly, this film struck a nostalgic chord that left us thinking about our own lives and all of the charming smaller moments that were truly unforgettable.

“World Table Tennis Championships” by Dentsu

Surrounded by other beautiful design ideas, this one really stood out. It took a high-intensity—and perhaps a bit silly—sport and focused on poignant, minimalistic moments that shed a whole different light on the game.

“The First Ever Pinterest Yard Sale” by Deutsch

The TV work running in parallel was also fantastic, but the web portion of the campaign had it all. It was entertaining. It was useful. It was for a good cause. And most impressive, it kept the product and product benefit always at the forefront.   

Until Next Year

When the posters get taken down, the streets swept, and the planes head back to their original destinations, the inspiration still remains. We owe it to our clients, to our agencies, and to ourselves to continue to push the work into places we never thought it could go, and there is no better fuel than a week spent with thousands of other people who carry the same ambition. And on that note, one of the most rewarding parts of the week has been meeting fellow AKQA colleagues from all over the world, seeing our shared values and hunger for doing great work first-hand. There may be 17 offices. But it has felt like one big family.

We’re now off to a quick pit stop in Spain before the trip home. So, as the French say, “Au Revoir.” Here’s to many more years of inspiring and innovative ideas.

Graham Davis is Copywriter and Felipe Yamaoka is Senior Designer at AKQA

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AKQA UK, Mon, 27 Jun 2016 14:13:54 GMT