Customization, Real-World Events, And Story Dominate Cannes Favorites

Leo Burnett’s Mark Tutssel runs down the creative trends reflected in the work in contention for the ad world’s highest honor.

Customization, Real-World Events, And Story Dominate Cannes Favorites
The Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs” Campaign

Just a few days from now, more than 10,000 delegates from the world’s leading advertising agencies, marketers and media will descend on the south of France for the annual Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.


At Leo Burnett, its a particularly appropriate time to reflect on the developments we’ve witnessed in marketing communications as well as the industry’s most important festival. We’re celebrating the Silver Anniversary of our annual Cannes Predictions, a collection of the work we believe has the strongest chance to earn a coveted Lion.

The work celebrated in Cannes has transformed at a greater pace in the past five years than it has in the festival’s first five decades. When Donald Gunn unveiled the first predictions reel in 1987, prizes were bestowed only to traditional TV and cinema commercials. Twenty-five years later, we’re showcasing integrated case studies, interactive executions, mobile apps, ambient installations and numbers of efforts that wouldn’t have been imagined as ‘advertising’ 10 years ago.

Indeed, we find ourselves in an environment in which people’s engagement with brands has evolved dramatically, while the channels we use to communicate have proliferated at unprecedented speed. We’re connecting across nearly infinite platforms and in novel, unexpected ways.

Despite this massive transformation, Cannes remains vital because it still celebrates the same principles it did nearly 60 years ago: Pure creativity. And now, more than ever, creativity is the most important currency in business. This year we can expect more entries and attendees than ever before, proving that every major brand in the world has a relentless focus on the power of creativity and, more importantly, the value of creativity to change behavior and enrich people’s lives.

So what can we expect next week? In scouring thousands of pieces of work likely to win, we’ve spotted a few key trends that lend some insight:

We’ve seen a greater number of bands delivering unique, personal experiences in recent years, and more than a third of entries on our 2012 collection do just that.


In South Africa, the Carling Black Label “Be the Coach” mobile campaign tapped into the frustration of the nation’s football fans, empowering them to elect a ‘dream team’ starting lineup for their favorite squads.

Intel’s “Museum of Me” seized the rich trove of data posted to Facebook, adapting it into personalized galleries that visualized a user’s presence on the platform in a fresh new way.

Though customization need not be strictly digital, as we saw with the 7-Eleven Slurpee “Bring Your Own Cup Day.” For one day in Australia, Slurpee enthusiasts were allowed to bring in their container–any container–and fill it to the brim with the iconic refreshment.

The future points to even greater levels of co-creation, shifting the dialogue further toward a collaborative and rewarding two-way conversation.

Theater of the Streets
Technological developments have empowered brands to craft once inconceivable spectacles. What were once considered ‘stunts’ have evolved into epic installations and experiential events that weave their way into the fabric of urban environments.

Nike Jordan’s “The Explosive Game” spectacle stands as one of the most stunning outdoor efforts ever. A three-story tall virtual Carmelo Anthony descended via helicopter atop the Hudson River during a performance by Nas. The projected NBA start dazzled the crowd with an impromptu display of court skills.


Target swept New York Fashion Week with “Little Marina,” a 25-foot tall, amazingly lifelike animatronic robot crafted in a cross promotion with the Italian house Missoni. Marina reported on the event across the city via a blog and Twitter feed and landed more than 63 million media impressions.

The brilliant “Invisible Drive” for Mercedes-Benz turned a metaphor into reality. The B-Class F-Cell model has zero emissions, so therefore ‘invisible’ to the environment. Accordingly, the car was made literally ‘invisible’ via a sophisticated system of cameras and LEDs. What’s more, the effort was so captivating that it thrived online as a viral video, reaching millions more than those who actually witnessed the vehicle in person.

Narrative and Craft Reign in Film
This year’s crop of Film is as solid as ever, with the best of the lot blending sharp storytelling with impeccable craft.

The Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs” reimagines the classic fairy tale as a gritty drama, presenting the infamous swine trio as either innocent victims, conniving fraudsters or both. Emphasizing the newspaper’s ‘open journalism’ approach — sharing ideas from reader to reporter to reader — the film demonstrates the 21st century news cycle in a compelling and powerful way.

As it has in other shows this year, Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” also promises to charm jurors. This enchanting animated piece follows a farmer who turns his agricultural operation from an industrialized animal factory into a more sustainable model. The soundtrack, a haunting cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” performed by Willie Nelson added an extra layer to the effort, which ran during the Grammy Awards. Viewers could download the specially commissioned track online, with proceeds dedicated to Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation.


Finally, of course, there’s what many consider this year’s top Grand Prix contender, “The Bear” for French film network Canal+. It’s a clever account of an unlikely movie director concluding with a fantastic reveal explaining the source of his success. The script, dialogue and production values are impeccable

Of course, with more than 34,000 entries this year, this is merely a taste of what promises to be an inspiring week. While our collection has been remarkably accurate over the years, with an average of 80 percent of our picks going on to win Lions, there are always plenty of surprises in the Palais. In the meantime, I encourage you to have a look at even more of our favorites at

Mark Tutssel is Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett Worldwide.