MegaFaces Pavilion Lands Russia Its First-Ever Grand Prix At Cannes

Jury says it was looking for “ideas to invest in” with second-ever Innovation Lions award.

An architecture firm scored a couple of firsts at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity when it was awarded the Innovation Grand Prix for MegaFaces Pavilion for telecom company MegaFon. The award marked the first Grand Prix won by Russia and the first won by an architecture firm.


The installation was part of MegaFon’s sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics and brought to life the ubiquitous selfie on a scale and fashion never seen before. Visitors to the pavilion could have their faces transformed on a huge kinetic sculpture, on a façade conceived by UK firm Asif Khan and engineered by iart. Passersby could have their faces 3-D scanned, which were then rendered into huge moving sculptures with 11,000 actuators–telescopic independently moving cylinders that each represented a single pixel.

This work, said Innovation Lion jury president Tom Bedecarre, chairman, AKQA, and president, WPP Ventures, reached all of the goals he set out for the jury. “We wanted to see breakthrough technology, that there was an idea that was more than a one-off execution and could be scaled, and was empowering creativity.”

But more than just a marriage of creativity and technology, it was clear that with this year’s Innovation Lions the jury was taking a much different approach to what’s typically seen with advertising awards. With a jury made up primarily of venture capitalists and investors, there was a definitive eye on ideas that could be scaled.

Bedecarre says that one idea they kept returning to while evaluating the shortlist was the question of whether or not it was an idea they’d invest in. “It was not part of the official criteria but it was something that filtered through our mind,” said Bedecarre.

Three other pieces were awarded Innovation Lions, each quite different from the other and representing discrete trends in marketing technology. Babolet Play, a digital tennis racquet that generates data on specific aspects of a player’s technique, shows advancement in the Internet of things and how brands can help enhance the quantified self. Fiat Live Store from AgenciaClick Isobar in Brazil is a breakthrough in how mobile technology can enable distant but real-time sales support. And Points, the dynamic wayfinding technology from New York digital shop Breakfast, reimagines how static signage can be enhanced. Sune Kaae, Senior Technical Director, R/GA, Sweden, says that in this work the jury saw a trend in which marketers and technologists were creating new mediums with which to communicate.

Other trends the jurors flagged from the shortlisted work seen in the Innovation category were the use of robots and robotic elements, the bridging of real and digital worlds, and interesting ways of pulling together video, live streaming, and music.


Indeed, the range of work that needed to be evaluated against other entries in this second-year category made judging particularly challenging for the jury. Like other new categories, the Innovation Lions have yet to become fully formed, leaving what innovation really means to interpretation. Not to mention, with such an open brief as “innovation,” it means the field of work will be vastly different. The jury members said the category requirement that Innovation contenders present their work live and be open to questions from the jury is instrumental in surfacing the best work.

“There was a phenomenally high standard of entries,” said Oliver Palmer, head of innovation, Tigerspike, Asia Pacific. “Different backgrounds and experiences came through in the presentations so it was interesting to compare and contrast the entries.”


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.