Wavio and Area 23’s ‘See Sound’ Project Wins Top Innovation Grand Prix at Cannes Lions

Microsoft’s 'Changing The Game' was the only gold winner

The mobile app notifies users of normal and abnormal sounds in and around the home with text-based notifications on their smart phone.
Wavio

A new way to help people who are hard of hearing understand the sounds around them at home has won this year’s top innovation award the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Today at the annual festival in France, judges awarded Area 23’s campaign for Wavio the coveted Grand Prix for its “See Sound” project. The mobile app, enabled by machine learning through a collaboration with Google to identify everyday sounds, notifies users of normal and abnormal sounds in and around the home with text-based notifications on their smart phone.

According to Bill Yom, global creative director of Cheil Worldwide and jury president for the Innovation Lions, the project had the jurors “convinced from the beginning” after the presentation. They were impressed not just by the idea of helping people who are hard of hearing, but also by the use of collaboration with YouTube and the project’s “beautiful design.”

“We should definitely award it to send a signal to the industry that you have to collaborate to create something outstanding for innovation, because that’s the way you have to change to try something outstanding for this world to help people,” Yom said during a press briefing.

Only one campaign, Microsoft’s “Changing The Game,” won a gold Cannes Lion. The campaign, created by McCann New York, promoted the company’s adaptive controller for gamers who are differently abled in various capacities and has been widely lauded as an example of accessibility of products as well as inclusivity in marketing.

In an interview late last year, Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela told Adweek that inclusivity has been an area of focus in recent years, especially since CEO Satya Nadella began leading the company.

“I look at the culture that Satya has helped to create, and then I see it unlocking really fascinating new sort of themes almost of our products and of our marketing,” Caposella said.

While there were more than two dozen nominees from around the world short-listed earlier this month, just seven were awarded silver Cannes Lions awards. Those included Lew’Lara\TBWA São Paulo’s work for Dorina Nowill, which created braille bricks to help children learn while building and playing, and McCann Tel Aviv’s project for Ikea, which used open-source 3D-printing for adjusting furniture for disabled people.