Cannes’ Top Prize for Innovation Goes to a Metal Made by Melting Down Illegal Guns

Swedish 'Humanium' wins Grand Prix, Google Tilt Brush takes gold

When Humanium, recycled from confiscated firearms, is sold to create products like tools and jewelry, proceeds help support anti-violence programs.
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CANNES, France—”The world’s most valuable metal,” which is derived from recycled illegal firearms and is then used to build anything from toys to smartphone cases, has won the top prize in this year’s Innovation Lions.

Humanium, a project of IM Swedish Partner and its Stockholm agencies, Åkestam Holst and Great Works, today won the category’s Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International of Festival of Creativity.

“The global cost of gun-related violence is $400 billion annually,” notes the Humanium project’s case study video, which you can watch below. “The negative impact on society diminishes with each gun destroyed. As a result, Humanium can truly be defined as the most valuable metal in the world.”

The campaign seeks to unite capitalism and altruism by turning gun collection programs, which are often underfunded in the developing world, into a new manufacturing process that creates Humanium metal that brands can buy to produce a wide range of goods like jewelry and tools.

A bar of Humanium currently sells to individuals for 25,000 Swedish krona (about $3,000), with the money going to project creator IM Swedish Partner’s work collecting firearms and helping victims of gun violence in the developing world. Companies interested in using the material commercially are being asked to reach out to IM Swedish Partner via its website.

Innovation Lions jury president Susan Lyne, president of BBG Ventures, said Humanium, “showed innovation at every stage of the project—from concept to the procurement process to supply chain innovation to the business model to the partnerships they developed.”

In general, nonprofits cannot win a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions except the Grand Prix for Good, which honors noncommercial work. However, the Innovations Lions have different rules that allow organizations of any kind to win—and precluding them from winning the Grand Prix for Good at Saturday’s final awards ceremony.

America won one gold in the category, with Google winning for its Tilt Brush, a VR art application:

The other gold in Innovation Lions went to LGBT advocacy group Stockholm Pride for Los Santos Pride, which brought a pride parade to the largest city that didn’t already have one: Grand Theft Auto 5’s Los Santos. The free mod added a wide variety of marching personalities to the online community:

Four other U.S. campaigns were honored by the Lions Innovation jury:

Silver: Your Voice is Your Stamp
Client: U.S Postal Service

Agency – MRM//McCann, New York

Bronze: Google VR
Client: Google

Agency – In-house

Bronze: Liam
Client: Apple

Agency – In-house

Bronze: iTBra: The Wearable That Detects Cancer
Client: Cyrcadia Health

Agency — Area 23, an FCB Health Company, New York

Although jurors had expressed excitement in the finalist presentation phase about the iTBra because of its potential to save millions of lives through earlier detection of breast cancer, jury president Lyne said the jurors—half of whom were women—felt in the end that the commendable concept itself wasn’t quite innovative enough to merit a top spot in the awards.

“We had many conversations about this. I’m absolutely hoping that the fact it won a bronze sill gives it a platform that it otherwise might not have had. Every single woman on the jury took home one of these. Nobody wants this to succeed more than we do,” she said.

“We have to take into consideration all the things that factor into this category, not just what we hope will have an impact.”

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."