Innovation Beyond Advertising: Software Wins New Cannes Category

Open-source software Cinder wins the Grand Prix in the Innovation category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Innovation is a core business mandate, and at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival, it’s also the subject of a new awards category.


At first blush, this new grouping seems like a lesser-defined catchall for advertising work that falls outside the established awards status quo. But according to jury president David Droga, chief creative officer at agency Droga5, the new category gives the advertising and brand marketing world an opportunity to applaud the tech behind creative ideas. The winning entries, he claims, are not one-off campaigns that “gather dust” but rather work that will gain momentum in the future. “This work is not just built for our industry and a timeline.” Droga says. “It’s built to move forward.”

So what is the most innovative idea in the brand marketing world at the moment? Cinder, an open-source bit of software that allows developers create nimble and mind-blowing visualizations. Created by digital agency The Barbarian Group, the Grand Prix-winnng Cinder was originally developed as an in-house tool to help create a music visualizer, which eventually became part of iTunes. “There really wasn’t the right tool to do what we needed to do,” says Barbarian Group CEO and CCO Benjamin Palmer. “We had one person writing in a program called Processing and another person translating that line by line into C++, so we started building our own software, which eventually became Cinder. Once we realized we had something that was really powerful and useful, we decided to open source it so more people would have access to it and contribute features.”

Since then, Cinder has powered many of the award-winning advertising projects awarded at Cannes–something the jury acknowledged. The program, says Palmer, “can be used for a lot of different things, but what it excels at is things that happen in real time, such as reactive installations or environments, augmented reality, things that react to motion, music, sound.”

In a first-year category still being defined, the scant group of work awarded was as varied as it was inventive. Of the four select works, the others included, Thunderclap, a social media augmentation tool from Droga5’s development arm De-De; Two Screens are Better Than One, a two-sided mobile phone from Russian company Yota; and MasterCard Display Card from Getin Noble Bank of Warsaw, Poland.

Palmer says the introduction of the Innovation Lions is welcome because “the advertising world is in need of constant innovation and a really compelling aspect of that is using technology to make more interesting experiences. There is so much that has not been done yet and creating new tools like Cinder opens up so many creative avenues.

Says juror Mike Parker, Global Chief Digital Officer of McCann WorldGroup, “this work changes user behavior and it’s something that people can build on, use, and evolve.”

About the author

Rae Ann Fera is a writer with Co.Create whose specialty is covering the media, marketing, creative advertising, digital technology and design fields. She was formerly the editor of ad industry publication Boards and has written for Huffington Post and Marketing Magazine.