With a record 40,133 entries, it will be tougher than ever to win a Lion in Cannes this year. Still, some of the year's best marketing ideas are already surely earmarked for Lions—with tech innovations, potent celebrity endorsements and gender debates leading the way.
Adweek partnered again with Leo Burnett for this annual preview of front-runners for hardware at next week's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Burnett has its own prohibitive favorite, of course, with Always "#LikeAGirl" for Procter & Gamble, which has already won numerous top awards this spring. And there are many other delights among these 20 contenders, from tech innovations (many focused on safety, from Optus' "Clever Buoy" to R/GA's Hammerhead work) to celebrity endorsements (Beats by Dre, Under Armour, etc.) to memorable campaigns around gender and women's empowerment (a topic that gets its own coveted prize with the inaugural Glass Lion).
And then there are the wild cards—work that comes out of nowhere to win, and won't be on any pre-festival lists. Visit adweek.com/cannes all next week to see the winners—well known and not—as they announced, along with our real-time reports from the festival.
Beats By Dre
"The Game Before the Game"
R/GA, London and Los Angeles
Yes, a music company made the best ad of the 2014 World Cup. This stylish five-minute music video looked at the pre-game rituals of Neymar Jr., Cesc Fabregas, Luis Suarez and others, all set to the swagger-filled "Jungle" by Jamie N Commons & The X Ambassadors.
United Nations World Food Programme
"805 Million Names"
Forsman & Bodenfors, Stockholm, Sweden
On Feb. 14, Paris Saint-Germain captain Zlatan Ibrahimović scored against Caen, then took off his shirt to reveal a host of surprising temporary tattoos. Bearing the names of 50 of the 805 million people who suffer from hunger worldwide, the Swedish star had become a brilliant walking PSA.
F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, São Paulo, Brazil
Leica brought the camera out of studio into the real world 100 years ago, so it could capture real, unscripted, unposed life. This spectacular ad re-created 35 famous photographs in two minutes—using actors in live-action scenes—to celebrate that milestone birthday.
"Experience the Power of a Bookbook"
BBH Asia Pacific, Singapore
Eternal battery life? Flexible touch interface? Pages that load instantly, with zero lag? Sounds like a technological marvel. And it is—it's the Ikea print catalog! This amusing promo from BBH hyped the high-tech age's most useful low-fi gadget ever.
Always/Procter & Gamble
Leo Burnett, Toronto, Chicago and London
A favorite of award-show judges all spring, this work thrillingly challenged viewers to redefine the phrase "like a girl," traditionally an insult, as an expression of strength. A runaway viral hit long before its halftime cameo on the Super Bowl, it should clean up in Cannes.
"I Will What I Want: Gisele Bündchen"
Droga5, New York
Gisele pounded and kicked a punching bag as real social-media insults lit up the walls in this potent spot, part of the brand's biggest-ever women's ad campaign. The work showed a different side of the supermodel, highlighting her strength in the face of intense, never-ending scrutiny.
ZDK Center for Democratic Culture
"Nazis Against Nazis: Germany's Most Involuntary Charity Walk"
GGH Lowe and Grabarz & Partner, Hamburg, Germany
On Nov. 15, 2014, a group of neo-Nazis arrived for a march in Wunsiedel, Germany. Little did they know they'd be raising money to fight their own cause. For every meter they walked, €10 went to a Nazi opt-out program—as billboards lining the route taunted them for their unwitting betrayal.
"Monty The Penguin"
The biggest triumph of last Christmas, this British campaign told an adorable, impeccably crafted story of friendship between a little boy and a penguin. But it wasn't just brilliant TV spot. It was an integrated juggernaut, with tie-ins across tech, retail, music and more.
M&C Saatchi, Sydney, Australia
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water … it might actually be! Optus, Google and Shark Attack Mitigation Systems developed a prototype for an ocean buoy that can detect sharks (by measuring their unique sonar return) and alert lifeguards on the shore in real time.
"Too Insulting," "Too Distressing," "Too Informative"
Leo Burnett, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai telecom Du continued a popular Tuesday offer (two movie tickets for the price of one) with three ads warning you not to go to the movies by yourself. The best of them, set in space, hilariously suggested that some films are just "too insulting" to watch alone.
OK Go and Honda UNI-CUB
"I Won't Let You Down"
Mori Inc., Tokyo
Perennial Cannes darlings OK Go, the world's most brand-friendly band, filmed the entire video for their song "I Won't Let You Down" while sitting on Honda UNI-CUB self-balancing unicycles. (They're like sitting Segways.) A mesmerizing video and a memorable brand integration.
Honda Civic Type-R
"The Other Side"
Wieden + Kennedy, London
This stunning interactive YouTube campaign presented a "double-sided story"—two short films that matched up perfectly, shot for shot, but told completely different stories about the same man. Users pressed the R button (a reference to the Civic Type-R) to seamlessly switch between them.
"The Dancing Traffic Light"
BBDO, Berlin, Germany
How do you make people actually wait at a crosswalk for "Don't walk" to turn to "Walk"? Make the "Don't walk" man more entertaining. The automaker even got him to dance in this fun campaign, keeping pedestrians amused—and more importantly, safely out of the road.
R/GA, New York
No more pulling out your iPhone. The product innovators at R/GA helped bring to life this T-shaped gadget that clips on your bicycle's handlebars, syncs with an app and safely navigates you (using flashing lights) to the safest and most popular bicycle routes.
"The Safety Truck"
Leo Burnett, Buenos Aires, Argentina
In a country with a high car-accident fatality rate, Samsung developed technology to make the roads safer. It designed a system for Samsung trucks that used a wireless camera in front and four outdoor monitors in back to let drivers behind the trucks better see the road ahead.
"Unskippable: Family/Elevator/High Five"
The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.
Itching to hit the "Skip ad" button every time you watch a YouTube video? Geico beat you to the punch with these clever and hilarious preroll ads, which were all but over in the first five seconds—though viewers were nicely rewarded if they decided to stick around.
"House of Mamba"
AKQA, Shanghai and London
For its "Nike Rise" campaign in China, AKQA built the world's most high-tech basketball court. The interactive LED space challenged the 30 handpicked up-and-coming players in the program to train with the help of intuitive motion-tracking drills and reactive visualization.
"Made Of Black"
AMV BBDO, London
Guinness provocatively linked the color of its beer to the vibrant spirit of young Africans in this campaign. The centerpiece was a dazzling two-minute montage of dance, performance art and surreal set pieces, propelled by the Kanye West track "Black Skinhead."
"Made In New York"
TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles
Of all the tributes to retiring Yankee legend Derek Jeter, this was the home run. The elegant, poignant black-and-white spot showed the famed shortstop making his way through the Bronx to Yankee Stadium, with Frank Sinatra's "My Way" fittingly playing on the soundtrack.
Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Sid Lee, Paris
This campaign made gamers the hero, allowing them to customize their Assassin's Creed characters down to a granular level. Some 1,400 of them were then incorporated into an emotional, all-CGI spot directed by Joseph Kosinski, featuring crowds storming the streets of 1780s Paris.