How to Create Grand Prix-Winning Work

The way industry insiders have thought about creativity has continued to evolve along with the influence that technology and innovation have on the everyday lives of consumers, the way we produce and deliver work and the way businesses operate. This ongoing transformation can’t be downplayed, and that is evidenced by the influence that digital communications has in today’s marketplace. 

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has recognized that the industry has moved beyond digital as a fad and innovation as an all-encompassing buzzword that has something to do with inventiveness, technology and creativity. This year, the Digital Craft category was created to recognize when work blends the lines between traditional creative thinking, new forms of media, the invention of new technologies and the ability to blend it all together in a manner that appeals to something completely human, while itself being fully digital.

How did our dream become reality? How did an idea materialize into a digital product? What influenced the moves we made along the way? Now that we’ve had time to recover from the celebration, here are some tips for those aiming for the top shelf in Digital Craft in 2019.



Focus on the Craft

  • Don’t let technology be your guide. Stick with the idea and the human on the other side of the glass.
  • Tell a story. Don’t make it complicated. If you can’t explain it in 30 seconds, the core meaning isn’t there and is likely being pulled away by your attempt to say too much.
  • Mix disciplines and skills. The team must influence one another so that you end up blending audio, visual and experience design with creativity until you’ve managed to create an entirely new way to tell your story. 
  • Be determined. Our project did not end how it started. Dig in and prepare for the long, emotional process ahead. For our team, the process was that and more. Iterations after iterations finally allowed us to free ourselves from a complicated and heavy concept to something that was simple, pure, intuitive and emotionally appealing. I can’t stress enough that the key to our success was perseverance, collaboration and truly working together across client, partners and amongst our core team. This allowed us to bring to life a concept that many thought would be impossible.
  • While the technology can be highly complex, the experience needs to be simple, intuitive, enjoyable and the technology needs to be nearly invisible.
  • Digital Craft is at its best when it augments humanity. Don’t stray from that.

Think Big, Really Big …

  • Innovation has been a buzzword for years. What does that mean for the industry? Hundreds of thousands of “great” and “innovative” ideas. Of course, they’re not all that innovative. To make an impression with the jury you need a big idea, an idea that has the potential to change the future (in the literal sense).
  • Our project played dual roles, not only to visually illustrate an incredibly sweet and heartfelt story, but to prove out the concept of using immersive, 3D content as a stage to create other forms of media.

... But Don’t Get Caught Up in the “Flash”

  • It’s very tempting to try to “shock and awe” and while that’s a good tactic to get attention, you need to back up the work. Flash may do well in press throughout the year, but it won’t win a Grand Prix at Cannes. 
  • Substance is key. After we received our award, I was able to confer with some of the judges to discuss the work and talk about the project in detail. They were incredibly savvy and knew their stuff. Don’t think you are going to be judged by old-school agency types. They’ve got smart, proven innovators that are going to pick you apart from every angle.

Don’t Neglect the Tech

  • In our case, the blend of myriad technologies alone impressed the judges because each was brand new, and innovative in its own right. We made some aggressive decisions on blending things that were really too complex to work together, but focus on the craft and having an expert team allows us to make them play together nicely.

Create with Purpose

  • Jean Lin, jury president, stressed the importance of using technology with purpose. Ensure that no other medium could deliver that message.
  • Though it may be redundant, it’s worth repeating: all the technology in the world won’t help you if it’s not invisible. It must allow the story and the emotion to take center stage. Technology for the sake of technology is not powerful.

As you think through your ideas for 2019, be critical of every little detail. The team that worked on our project developed a culture where challenging one another became the norm. It doesn’t mean that you need to be gruff, but rather honest with yourself and your partners about what you are doing, why you are doing it and how the end product helps tell your story in the purest way possible.

Think big. Execute on every single pixel. Love what you are doing and don’t be afraid to embrace unbridled creative expression in whatever it is you are producing. Go big with your ideas and bring home the grand prize.

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