Highlights from Cannes: Innovation Lions

One of the best things about The Cannes Lions Festival is stumbling upon gold. There are the big blockbuster talks that you have scheduled in your calendar ahead of time. Then there are those you just wander into, not quite knowing what to expect. The Innovation Lions Shortlist presentations were one of those. And one of the most memorable sessions of my week.

The Innovation Lions are like no other category. They are the only category where those who are shortlisted are asked to present their work to a jury in person. Luckily for me, delegates at Cannes can go along and watch these presentations.

Here is the official word on what the category is about:

The Innovation Lions celebrate pioneering technological creativity. Entries need to demonstrate the relationship between a big idea and radical tech; that is, bespoke solutions that fulfil an unaddressed consumer need or deliver a product, service or brand message in a newly-invented way.

Ok so these all involve creating a physical innovative product which might be outside of the standard ‘media’ agency brief. But given that ‘creating something physical’ was an emerging trend this year across all categories, it is very relevant to what we do. At the very worst, they will blow your mind and inspire you.

Here are my top picks:

  1. The Next Rembrandt. J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam brought the artist back to life by creating a deep learning algorithm capable of producing 3D printed paintings in the style of Rembrandt. The AI creative genius analysed his 346 paintings to ‘learn’ his style before creating ‘The Next Rembrandt’, brought to life through an advanced printer which printed 13 layers of paint based UV ink. Who said AI can’t be creative?!


2. The Field Trip To Mars: Kids in New York were treated to the first school field trip to Mars. Piling onto a school bus, the kids thought they were taking a regular school trip. In reality, the clever people at McCann New York, turned the windows of the bus into screens, creating the world’s first group VR experience. Oh what magic. You can’t watch the video without getting goosebumps.

The Field Trip to Mars

3. Edible Six Pack Rings.  Plastic six-pack rings found on six packs of beer end up in the ocean and are harmful to wildlife who try to eat them or worse, get caught in them. Saltwater brewery and their agency We Believers created an alternative:

“We ideated, designed, prototyped and manufactured Edible Six Pack Rings. A six-pack packaging design made with materials that instead of killing animals are edible. By using by-products of the beer brewing process such as barley and wheat, this packaging goes beyond recycling and strives to achieve zero waste. The Edible Six Pack Rings are the first ever 100% biodegradable, compostable and edible packaging implemented in the beer industry.”

This was part of a growing trend for brands to do something good for the environment or society and set the benchmark for the rest of the industry.

Edible Six Pack Ring

4. Sun Hats: DDB Colombia created Solar Powered Sun Hats to give to Colombian workers in order to teach them about solar power. An innovative and effective way to reach audiences who are in places where no media reaches them and are often illiterate. What a clever way to add value to people’s lives whilst overcoming insurmountable barriers to communicate with this audience.

Sun Hats


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