U.S. Agencies Nowhere to Be Found in Top Creative Data and Strategy Winners at Cannes

Sweden and Canada snap up Grand Prix prizes

"Go Back to Africa" work from FCB/SIX won the Grand Prix in Creative Data in Cannes.
Black & Abroad

CANNES, France—The Cannes Lions showed their global bona fides in two specific categories. In Creative Strategy and Creative Data, the Grand Prix winners came from Sweden and Canada, while gold winners included work from Brazil, Spain and the U.K. Countries that aren’t often among the top prize-getters like Guatemala, Colombia and Malaysia also pleased the two juries with their work.

Of the 35 winners of every level, only four U.S. campaigns won Lions, and they were all bronze.

Yasuharu Sasaki, Creative Data jury president and head of digital creative and ecd of Dentsu Inc., noted that there is an explanation for such a level playing field, at least in the data category.

“[The winners] tells me that data is universal,” he said. “All over the world, people started using data at the same time, so that’s why we see the diversity of entries and winners.”

The winner in the Creative Data category came from FCB/SIX in Toronto for its “Go Back to Africa” campaign for Black & Abroad. The project takes the racial slur “Go back to Africa,” hijacks the phrase on Twitter in real time by erasing the racist context and replaces it with a positive vision of Africa. By flooding the platform, the language is reclaimed and spreads the joy and beauty of the continent.

“We thought about the contribution to culture [in picking this as Grand Prix],” Sasaki said. “It created a new community with the power of ideas and contributed to the culture.”

In the Creative Strategy category, Forsman & Bodenfors won a Grand Prix for the E.V.A. Initiative, a groundbreaking campaign that took its inspiration from the insight that most cars’ safety features are designed using male crash test dummies. The result is that women are more likely to be injured or killed in a car crash than men.

Over 40 years, the brand has accumulated real-world data to understand better what happens in a collision. The resulting sizable data set is now available to anyone—competitive automakers included—to help develop greater safety equality.

“It shows how actually there is a huge opportunity to go beyond just the immediate business or communications results,” said Creative Strategy Lions jury president Tracey Follows. “We think this is a real signpost for the future of creative strategy because it is open source. It is about collaboration, and it is to all intents and purposes about going into the data and using a hard fact and then telling a really human story on the back of it and bringing about real human benefits for all.”

U.S. winners in both categories include “The Traffic Jam Whopper” for Burger King by We Believers (bronze in Creative Data); “See Sound” for Waivo by Area 23 of FCB Health (bronze in Creative Data); “Dream Crazy” for Nike by Wieden + Kennedy (bronze in Creative Strategy); and “Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive” for Tommy Hilfiger by Wunderman Thompson and Possible (bronze in creative strategy).

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