Cannes Winners Provide Peek At The State Of The Craft

Branded content and entertainment creators must feel a bit like the B+ student whose report card contains “you can do better” notations from teachers. For the second consecutive year in the four-year history of the category at Cannes Lions, the jury declined to hand out a Grand Prix, although 63 Lions overall, including 16 Golds, were awarded.

“The lack of Grand Prix demonstrates that this is a maturing industry where advertisers and agencies are still learning how to make credible branded content,” said jury president David Lubars, chief creative officer of BBDO Worldwide. He had earlier said that his panel would “mine for transcendent and inspired storytelling that snaps heads back” -- but the 2015 entrees apparently lacked “a unique element that we will still be talking about in 10 years’ time.” Judges proffered similar comments in 2014.

If no one has quite figured out that special spice that content marketing still needs, it’s not for lack of throwing in just about everything into the pot.



Entrants could chose among 18 subcategories in submitting their work. Perusing them gives an overview of the diverse directions the field has taken in recent years, from “scripted online series created solely for the internet or online social platforms” to “original user-generated content.” Not to mention music and gaming. Oh yeah, there’s also “original printed content.” You know, books and magazines and other stuff on paper.

Here are the 2015 Gold Lion winners, with links to their two-minute pitches:

  • Original User-Generated Content. “The Ice Bucket Challenge” for the ALS Association, entered by the ALS Association. Chillingly effective viral marketing for a cause.
  • Original Use Of Music. “Madden Season” for EA Sports, entered by Heat. How do you win over a new generation of gamers to a video game in its 26th year?
  • Original Use of Music. Three-second cooking in “Shrimp Frying Cannon” and “Super Fried Dumpling” for NTT Docomo, entered by Tokyu Agency. You’ve got to see it to groove to it.
  • Original Printed Content. “The HIV+ Issue” for Vangardist magazine, entered by Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland. Mixing the blood of HIV-positive patients with printer’s ink to generate headlines.
  • Original Branded Digital or Social Media. “The Ice Bucket Challenge” for the ALS Association, entered by the ALS Association. Week 1: Boston media. Week 2: National media. Week 3: Celebrities.
  • Original Branded Digital or Social Media. “Makeup Genius” for L'Oréal Paris, entered by McCann, Paris. “Augmented reality” that had 10 million downloads, with users trying out more than 25 million different looks.
  • Non-Fiction: Online (15 Minutes Or Under In Length). “The Gun Shop” for States United To Prevent Gun Violence. Entered by Grey, New York. Hidden camera, veiled agenda, 12 million views in the first week.
  • Integrated Campaign Led by Content Platform. “Monty's Christmas” for John Lewis Partnership. Entered by Adam & Eve/DDB. Bottom line: Monty the Penguin toys sold out in three days.
  • Integrated Campaign Led by Content Platform. “Rabbit Race” for Media Markt. Entered by Ogilvy, Germany. Goes to prove that Easter rabbits, like the Xmas penguins above, enthrall the post-advertising consumer.
  • Fiction: Online Series (Minimum 3 Episodes). “Tinnyvision” for NZ Transport Agency. Entered by Clemenger BBDO, Wellington. How to engage a audience that doesn’t want to hear what you need to tell it.
  • Branded Live Experience. “House Of Mamba” for Nike. Entered by AKQA. China. Kobe. And the “first reactive LED basketball court.” Say what?
  • Branded Live Experience. “Nazis Against Nazis — Germany’s Most Involuntary Charity Walk” for ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur Grabarz & Partner. Entered by GGH Lowe. Every step a NeoNazi takes raises money for a fund to help other NeoNazis leave the movement. 0€ media spend.
  • Branded Live Experience. “Holograms For Freedom” for No Somos Delito (We Are Not Crime). Entered by DDB Spain. Global attention for a campaign that allowed users to “convert themselves into an apparition” to skirt Spanish laws against protests.
  • Brand or Product Integration Into an Existing Program or Platform. “The Marathon Walker” for Water For Africa. Entered by Ogilvy Paris. The ability of one woman, in the right place with the right message, to make a difference.
  • Brand or Product Integration Into an Existing Program or Platform. “Coke Thirst” for Coca-Cola. Entered by J. Walter Thompson, Brazil. Dolby sound ventures inside a Coke bottle.
  • Brand or Product Integration Into an Existing Program or Platform. “805 Million Names” for United Nations World Food Program. Entered by Forsman & Bodenfors. 15 representative names tattooed on a soccer star’s torso.

All of the other winners — Silver and Bronze, as well as campaigns that made the short list — can be viewed here.

The value of advertising awards to anyone except their victorious creators has been debated, no doubt, since before homburgs were fashionable on Madison Ave. But whether or not they are breakthrough, the entrees honored here represent an informative compendium of the content marketing zeitgeist, 2015 — and not just for megabrands. We can safely predict that the debate will still be raging when we’re all donning helmets and dizzily wending our way through a world of branded VR.

Snackable Content
Laurie Sullivan has the skinny on’s new data-backed content creation lab, IDEA Studio…. SendtoNews Video rolled out SPORTStation, which provides brands or agencies with customized inventories of sports video content.

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