LBB Europe editor Alex Reeves flags up some frontrunners and personal favourites to watch out for on the Croisette next week
What a time to be alive. The world of creativity is shifting at a breakneck pace and the work that picks up accolades at award shows is getting ever more varied. The world’s most creative companies have spent the last year finding new ways to communicate ideas that go beyond sharp filmmaking, great lines of copy and sharp art directing. They’ve been hacking business models, infiltrating 3D printing communities, training artificial intelligences and building ecommerce into AR filters. But the old crafts still have the power to drive a great idea home.
This is a selection of work from the EMEA region that I really hope will win in Cannes next week, because no matter what material the ideas are crafted out of, they all have a touch of magic to them.
Last year AMV BBDO’s ‘Bloodnormal’ taboo-smashed its way to Grand Prix glory in Cannes, before cleaning up at practically every other award show going (including being named one of only four winners in the inaugural Immortal Awards). While that campaign was about normalising periods, Libresse / Bodyform’s follow up had a new mission - to encourage women to love and accept their vulvas. Essentially a music video set to a reworking of the Camille Yarbrough classic ‘Take Yo’ Praise’, director Kim Gehrig packed three minutes full of celebratory visual metaphors for genitals. The result is a total joy to behold, empowering but also a lot of fun. It’s already earned Kim a rare Black Pencil for Directing at D&AD. If this doesn’t pick up an armful of metal in Provence, I’ll be disappointed.
3D printing is cool and everything, but like all tools, in the wrong hands the technology can be abused. It could soon have blood on its hands, as designs for guns and gun parts make lethal weapons available to ‘download’ and print at the click of a mouse. To its credit, 3D printing manufacturer DAGOMA recognised that they are part of this problem and, with TBWA\Paris, decided to disrupt the spread of source files for weapons. The solution was elegant - flooding the online market with blueprints for guns that appear real, but are in fact harmless when they come to be used. With minimal budget, this campaign has potentially saved lives already.
Huge sporting competitions like the FIFA World Cup will never stop coming, until the end of humanity. That’s the nature of sport - it never ends. There will always be more tournaments, more squads full of players each year, more sporting firsts and records to be smashed. But every four years it’s sort of the same thing - 22 people kicking a pig’s bladder around on some grass. So how do you make a trailer for that sort of thing feel fresh? Harness the power of a medium that predates TV trailers for sporting tournaments - the tapestry - and then make it move. This is the sort of campaign that craft categories are made for. Every single frame has been individually embroidered. More than 227,000 metres of thread were used to create over 600 unique frames of tapestry, that if laid end-to-end would measure over 1,200 metres in length. And it looks glorious. What an achievement by the BBC and Blinkink.
Xbox and McCann London were faced with a tough brief on this one. They had a product to promote - the game FIFA 18 - but they weren’t allowed to mention that it was available on Xbox, because rival platform PlayStation had exclusive marketing rights secured. But they weren’t going to miss the chance to talk about the launch of the world’s biggest football game. So they used their heads and came up with Football Decoded. They teamed up with Real Madrid and a pro gamer to translate real life moves on the pitch onto the corresponding Xbox controller buttons for FIFA 18. This went out on social media, print ads, during a tie-in with TalkSport radio and even on the digital sidings surrounding the Real Madrid pitch during the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona ‘El Clásico’ match. It doubled up as entertainment and a gaming tutorial, teaching players how to recreate the beautiful game they’re watching on FIFA 18, but only if they were playing on an Xbox. It works on so many levels.
Mother London's gorgeous animated 'Rang-tan' film for Greenpeace grabbed me by the feels within seconds and held on. Passion director Salon Alpin brought levels of craft to it that couldn't fail to enchant, but what really made sure the campaign endured, and pushed the dial on the campaign against palm oil, was when the supermarket Iceland tried to adopt it as its Christmas ad. Regulators weren't having it though, claiming it was too political. Which saved Iceland over £500,000 in media spend that they'd planned to pump into it. It instantly became a PR campaign. Being banned made the ad just edgy enough to provoke outrage and activate people around the world on social media to start kicking up a righteous fuss about palm oil production. The whole operation was a masterclass in how getting banned might not be such a bad PR move.
This one is hugely innovative and dripping in tradition at the same time. We’re all familiar with souvenir models of famous tourist attractions. In Paris, you can buy them on practically any street corner: little metal castings of The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. But who’d have thought of infiltrating this elite souvenir club as a form of advertising for a tourist attraction that’s not as globally famous? The clever brains at Marcel, that’s who. A fresh media innovation around a format that goes back generations - impressive.
Russian broadcaster TV Rain is a pretty exciting client to work with for an indie agency like Voskhod. In a political environment as saturated with propaganda as Russia’s, their against-the-grain reporting is brave and refreshing. The agency decided to stage an experiment - what sort of person does consuming TV Rain’s reporting make you into, compared to someone who only watches and reads state-owned media? They created two ‘blank canvas’ AIs and trained them for six months. One was exposed purely to state-owned TV Russia-1 and the other TV Rain. Now, the curious can head online to ask the bots questions. They turned out drastically different, perfectly illustrating the value of TV Rain’s rebel media to the sort of people who want the truth rather than propaganda.
As humanity plunges ever deeper into a climate crisis, car manufacturers are all scrambling to adapt away from gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting combustion engines and show off how kind to the planet their electric cars can be. But they can’t guarantee that those cars are running on green electricity, so Belgian agency FamousGrey decided to help Volvo take the narrative a step further and turn its client into a green energy company, so drivers could power their electric Volvo cars with clean Volvo energy. Agencies always love it when their clients let them get involved in their businesses and this is a prime example - Volvo’s not just a car company now, it’s an energy supplier.
Dubai’s Impact BBDO is taking on the ugly truth of female genital mutilation (FGM) with an idea that’s elegant on so many levels. Firstly, it’s a worthy cause - working with anti-FGM organisation 28 Too Many, Egyptian NGO Tadwein and the Rofayda Hospital Group trying to put a stop to the abuse that over 200 million girls have suffered. Then there’s the innovative approach that goes beyond awareness raising and calls people to action - a physical pledge system that empowers parents to resist the medicalisation of FGM in Egypt. Then there’s the design level wrapping it all up - the symbol for the campaign takes the shape of the typical campaigning ribbon and flips it upside down so it resembles the Arabic script for the word ‘no’.
This year there was a lot of noise made around one men’s grooming brand addressing the problems society has with outdated masculinity norms. But many months earlier Philips had already engaged with this issue in a compassionate, relatable, gentle way. Isobar Nordics’ film for the razor company zoomed into a microcosm of this broad discussion, showing a two-minute slice of real life between two men as they intimately discuss the pressures society heaps on them. It’s warm, believable and funny and it left me with a feeling of affection towards a brand that really gets it.
ThisAbles is an idea that started at a hackathon with Eldar Yusupov, a copywriter for McCann Tel Aviv who was born with cerebral palsy. The idea has the potential to transform what IKEA means for many people around the world. A range of 3D printed add-ons that completely overhaul IKEA’s product range, it makes many of its best-selling items more accessible and useful for people with disabilities. Although it began in Israel, it will be interesting to see how this progresses - 3D printing makes it accessible to a global market and the blueprints are available to download for free. Powerful stuff.
This is just a pure idea that, like so much good advertising, anyone can understand in seconds. To promote McDonald’s new delivery service, TBWA\Paris created a series of images of buildings and stormy skies, seen through rain-soaked windows. Photographed by Roberto Badin, the prints take on a customer’s point of view to highlight that longing for easy, familiar food when the weather outside is grim. Much like another TBWA\Paris McDonald’s campaign that we might see make an appearance in Cannes next week, it’s timeless.
Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 in 2018, making it the perfect time for South Africa to remember his legacy. But Philips and Ogilvy didn’t take the easy route and make a nice film about him for the South African market. Well, they did do that - with flair. But they did it as part of a more all-encompassing movement to memorialise the great man, encouraging people to shave his distinctive parting into their hair in his memory. Barbers stepped up to give people his cut for free. Philips also sold limited-edition ‘Shave to Remember’ clippers, the proceeds of which supported the Nelson Mandela Foundation.