Cannes 2012: Work to Watch

'Adweek' and Leo Burnett pick favorites to win Lions at this year's festival

The Cannes Lions festival has been moving away from its focus on TV spots in recent years. In 2012, for the first time in 25 years of forecasts, fewer than half the entries in Leo Burnett's Cannes Predictions Reel are traditional commercials. The rest? Music videos, Facebook apps, 3-D light shows, mobile-commerce technologies, annual-report designs. The TV spot still thrives, but many lively companions are jostling for Lions in France.

As part of our festival preview, Adweek took a close look at Burnett's predictions for 40 works to watch at Cannes, choosing 18 of our favorites. These campaigns and executions wowed consumers and should do the same for the 15 Cannes juries (led by 14 jury presidents, pictured at right). Burnett identified six trends and themes for 2012, which we are also using to group our selections: Customization, Theater of the Streets, Craft, Provocation, Future-Facing Techniques and Narrative Twists. (As an annual bellwether for success at Cannes, Burnett's predictions have been remarkably accurate. Last year, the 40 campaigns selected for the reel won a whopping 90 Lions.)

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity runs June 17-23. Visit throughout for realtime festival reports, including video interviews, analysis, winners galleries and more.

  1. Customization
    • Intel, 'Museum of Me'
    Agency: Projector, Tokyo

    Personalized experiences are the lifeblood of social marketing. Intel took the inherent narcissism of Facebook and amplified it, building an app that collected your data and then invited you to visit a virtual museum of yourself—your friends, likes and links.

    • Google and OK Go, 'All Is Not Lost'
    Agency: Hakuhodo, Tokyo

    Marketing-savvy band OK Go teamed with Google and a group of dancers from the Pilobolus troupe on this participatory music video powered by HTML5. Users could type in a message that the body-bending dancers then spell out within the song.

    • Carling Black Label, 'Be the Coach'
    Agency: Ogilvy, Cape Town, South Africa

    Sports fans like to complain about coaches. But here, fans had only themselves to blame, as they picked the soccer players and substitutes via mobile votes for the 2011 Carling Black Label Cup between the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

  1. Theater of the Streets
    • Target, 'Little Marina'
    Agency: Mother, New York

    A 25-foot-tall doll dressed in Missoni clothing stunned the normally unflappable New York Fashion Week crowd last year as she promoted the Italian designer's new line at Target. The campaign won best of show at the 2012 One Show Awards.

    • Nike/Brand Jordan, 'The Explosive Game'
    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, New York

    Projection mapping is no longer an easy wow, but Nike made waves taking it to the water—creating a stunning light show showing a three-story-tall Carmelo Anthony dribbling, dunking and walking on the Hudson River.

    • Mercedes-Benz, 'Invisible Car'
    Agency: Jung von Matt, Alster, Germany

    In a bit of Harry Potter-like wizardry, Mercedes-Benz built a special LED cloak that made a car look invisible to promote its zero-emission fuel-cell technology. Video of the stunt quickly went viral online.

  1. Craft
    • Chipotle, 'Back to the Start'
    Agencies: Creative Artists Agency, Chipotle

    This now-famed morality tale about a farmer driven to factory farming was powered by exquisite stop-motion animation and Willie Nelson's cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist," winning the Grandy at the 2012 Andy Awards.

    • Barnardo's, 'Life Story'
    Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London

    The British children's charity masterfully chronicled a child's recovery from abuse by going slowly back in time—beginning with a stable adult who visits his former selves played by six actors, ending with a scared 5-year-old boy.

    • DirecTV, 'Cable Effects'
    Agency: Grey, New York

    Buying cable TV forces you to shave your head for money, fake your own death and pal around with Charlie Sheen. In short, it causes your entire life to unravel. Don't let that happen. Switch to DirecTV, says this brilliantly scripted TV campaign.

  1. Provocation
    • K-Swiss, 'MFCEO'
    Agency: 72andSunny, Los Angeles

    Need an attention-grabbing spokesman? Meet Kenny Powers, the foul-mouthed fictional fastballer from HBO's Eastbound & Down. He didn't just pitch products. In obscenely funny K-Swiss spots, he became the "MFCEO."

    • Little Monster, 'Take This Lollipop'
    Agency: Tool of North America, Los Angeles

    Tool director Jason Zada built a Facebook Connect app that asked for access to your FB data, then showed a stalker (Bill Oberst Jr.) leering at your pics. The point? Be afraid—very afraid—of posting personal info online.

    • Troy Library, 'Book Burning Party'
    Agency: Leo Burnett, Detroit

    Facing Tea Party opposition, Burnett employed reverse psychology to support a tax increase to keep the public library open in Troy, Mich. The agency ran ads pretending to oppose the measure and promised a bookburning victory party afterward.

  1. Future-Facing Techniques
    • Austria Solar, 'Solar Annual Report'
    Agency: Serviceplan, Munich, Germany

    The medium embodied the message in Austria Solar's annual report printed in text and graphics invisible until revealed in sunlight. The effort from the trade group won best in show at the 2012 One Show Design Awards.

    • Google, 'Google Wallet'
    Agency: R/GA, New York

    Google changed the face of mobile commerce with Google Wallet, the phone tap-and-payment system. R/GA designed the user interface/user experience and the logo, launching the product to the world.

    • Nike, 'My Time Is Now'
    Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, London

    Another jubilant masterpiece of a Nike soccer spot, "My Time Is Now," has the added dimension of hidden, interactive "tunnels" in the YouTube video that transport the viewer to entirely new experiences. Once again, W+K elevates the game.

  1. Narrative Twists
    • The Guardian, 'Three Little Pigs'
    Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London

    The British newspaper's brilliant twominute spot remade the Three Little Pigs as a modern news story, vividly demonstrating the paper's concept of "open journalism" in collaboration with readers. The conceptual and visual delight also sold more papers.

    • John Lewis, 'The Long Wait'
    Agency: Adam & Eve, London

    The British retailer put a new twist on the idea of the kid who can't wait for Christmas in this standout from the 2011 holiday season. The spot shows that it's better to give than receive, though the agency might prefer the reverse in winning a Cannes Lion.

    • Canal+, 'The Bear'
    Agency: BETC Euro RSCG, Paris

    Bears often serve as comic props in ads. Not so in this hilarious spot for the French movie channel Canal+. Here, a bear appears as a celebrated movie director—in his own mind, at least. It turns out that one too many long nights watching TV are to blame.

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