JWT’s ‘The Next Rembrandt’ Wins Two Grand Prix at Cannes, in Cyber and Creative Data

Leo Burnett's Spanish lottery ad 'Justino' also wins a Cyber Grand Prix

CANNES, France—"The Next Rembrandt" might be a fake masterpiece, but it's awards haul here at the Cannes Lions festival is quickly becoming very real.

The J. Walter Thompson campaign for ING bank, which taught a computer to paint like Rembrandt—and produced an amazing 3-D printed portrait in Rembrandt's style—picked up two Grand Prix awards here tonight, one in the Cyber Lions and one in the Creative Data Lions. It joins Y&R's McWhopper campaign for Burger King (which topped Print & Publishing and Media) as the second campaign to have picked up two Grand Prix this year.

The Cyber jury also handed out a second Grand Prix tonight, to the Spanish Lottery's animated "Justino" Christmas ad by Leo Burnett Madrid.

While "The Next Rembrandt" and "Justino" couldn't be more different in design or intent, each used cutting-edge technology to achieve dynamic, memorable results.

Jury president Chloe Gottlieb, executive creative director at R/GA, said at a press conference Wednesday that, in so many Cyber entries this year, the technology is becoming so seamless as to be almost invisible.

"The quality of work was of such a level that its digital nature disappeared. It becomes invisible. You don't even know it's there. It's like magic," she said.

"The Next Rembrandt" was created to highlight ING's dedication to innovation and its sponsorship of classic art. JWT designed a program that analyzed all aspects of the Dutch master's intricate technique, including his brushwork, sense of proportion and use of shading, color and space. Doing so allowed a computer to create a completely new 3-D printed "Rembrandt" painting. (It was a real painting, not a two-dimensional representation.)

Consisting of 148 million pixels, the portrait of a bearded, 17th-century man in a white collar and black hat was based on nearly 170,000 painting fragments from Rembrandt's body of work. Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, the Mauritshuis and the Museum Het Rembrandthuis also collaborated with JWT on the initiative.

"What we love about this idea is that the data isn't the output of the creativity, the data is the beginning of the creativity. The data is the source for creativity," Gottlieb said. "It's something that's coming from the digital world and creating a physical thing in the real world. So, in a sense, it's the opposite trajectory from work that we were judging in Cyber even just a few years ago. It's a blurring of the lines between what is Cyber and what is real."

Meanwhile, the second Grand Prix winner, Burnett's "Justino," proved an artful and affecting promotion of Spain's annual Christmas lottery, a holiday tradition since 1812.

Using Pixar-esque animation, the centerpiece three-and-a-half-minute film told the tale of a lonely security guard in a mannequin factory whose kindness toward his coworkers is fittingly repaid. Viewers could also follow Justino's unfolding story in real time on Instagram.

Jury president Gottlieb said "Justino" was the whole package and really delivered across platforms.

"We were looking for this interesting intersection between idea, technology, time, craft. And everything came together in this piece of work. We loved it," she said. "This was born out of digital. This was not a TV spot that was put on YouTube. It's exactly the opposite. This was created for the digital space. And every piece of this story was perfectly created and crafted for its channel."

She added: "There's a beautiful film that's at the level of a Pixar movie, which is amazing. Then if you went to the Instagram feed that he had, or the Facebook channel, it was all different. It was all interesting, and it was all perfect for its appropriate platform. And we loved this idea that storytelling isn't happening in the same way now. There's such literacy now, and such ability to play with the materials, that the story becomes dimensionalized and even more beautiful when you experience it by watching it, and then interacting with it. It's work that has no dead ends. It keeps going. The story grows as people interact with it. You can feel its power, and you can feel its beauty."

The final vote for the Grand Prix was unusual in Cyber this year, Gottlieb added. At first, the jury was considering two virtual reality pieces for the Grand Prix—Lockheed Martin's "The Field Trip to Mars" by McCann New York, and The Dalí Museum's "Dreams of Dali" by Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

But in the end, while they adored both campaigns, they didn't feel that either was quite breakthrough enough for a Grand Prix—so they went back to the drawing board to find other Grand Prix contenders.

The Creative Data jury was similarly smitten with "The Last Rembrandt."

"We're tremendously proud of the Grand Prix. It was pretty much unanimous," said jury president Tash Whitmey, group CEO of Havas Helia. "We loved it for so many reasons. It's hard to put those reasons into words. It's a beacon for this particular category. It's a beacon for the data industry. It shows how to take many, many complex sources of data and fuse them into creativity in ways that we found inspiring, and a little scary. It raised some questions that made us feel uncomfortable around humanity versus machines, and data, and what is the art of the possible in future. And without exception, it provoked powerful feelings."

—U.S. Cyber Lions winners

Gold winners: