It was the inaugural year for Cannes newly formed sub-festival the Lions Entertainment, which comprises the Entertainment Lions and the Entertainment Lions for Music.
The new categories replace the Branded Content & Entertainment Lions, which struggled with something of an identity crisis, failing to award a Grand Prix for two consecutive years.
In a show that these difficulties were behind the industry, The Lions Entertainment awarded 3 Grands Prix across the two categories, with the awards going to projects not traditionally recognised at marketing awards.
The Entertainment Lions awarded the top prize to The New York Time’s virtual reality film “The Displaced”, while the Lions Entertainment for Music category, awarded Beyonce’s "Formation" music video and the music track in Jung von Matt’s "Homecoming" Christmas film for German supermarket Edeka.
In determining the winners in the new categories the judges used four criteria:
· The work had to be high quality
· It should demonstrate a powerful relationship to the brand
· It should attract an audience and not be interruptive
· It should be entertainment in its form and not just entertaining in its effect.
This criterion is not dissimilar to the criteria employed by Branded Art Review which stipulate that to be successful a piece of branded art or entertainment must fulfill at least one of the following:
· Raise the bar creatively and demonstrate creative excellence.
· Demonstrate a strong and cohesive strategic purpose and fit with the brand, its values, and positioning.
· Elevate the brand in a consumer’s mind and create an emotional connection with the viewer.
· Stand up as an authentic or legitimate piece of art, culture or entertainment
With a clearly defined judging criteria, the judges got stuck into a marathon session with reportedly lasted until dawn. However, the award winners revealed a snapshot of the leading work in branded entertainment from around the world.
According to Lions Entertainment Jury President Jae Goodman, the chief creative officer and co-head at CAA Marketing, each of the nine Gold winners, all from various parts of the world, "was a contender at some point in the discussion."
In a year of strong contenders in the Entertainment Lions category, a large number of projects stood out.
Brands pushed the boundaries with new experiences and formats to enable consumers to interact with brands. From GE’s podcast 'The Message', which has been a roaring success, to Glade’s 'Museum of Feelings', an installation enabling visitors to experience emotions through Glade’s scents, Nike's "near perfect" millennial web series 'Margot vs. Lily', and Microsoft X-Box’s 'Survival Billboard' which strapped people to a billboard for 24 hours.
There was also a host of standout films and online series including Canada Goose’s invigorating 'Out There' film, Red Bull’s mind-bending 'Kaleidoscope' and Under Armour’s blistering 'Rule Yourself' film featuring Michael Phelps, which won Grand Prix in the Film Craft category.
In a year when much of the commentary around the Cannes Festival of Creativity was dominated by scam, PR stunts, and the festival’s relevance to marketers and the industry at large, branded entertainment proved to be a maturing category brimming with strong work. The work that made our top five was innovative, unexpected, entertaining and work that pushed boundaries and challenged audiences to think.
Here is Branded Arts Review’s pick of the best work from the Entertainment Lions at Cannes Festival of Creativity 2016.
5. 'Familien' by Ford Denmark
Ford Denmark wanted to challenge the glamorous, happy images of families in the car that advertising typically portrays, and to replace this with everyday life. The result is an extraordinary short film, called ‘Familien’ (‘The Family’), which follows a family as it goes through a divorce. Ford’s strategy is to create an emotional connection with Denmark’s middle class, which has the highest rates of divorce in the world, while delivering a message about how families change but remain strong. The filmmakers, creative agency Very, did a superb job of crafting an authentic film which features little branding and avoids the 'sadvertising' clichés of manipulative music.Brave, surprising and unexpected. It is beautiful piece of storytelling, well-crafted and authentic.
4. 'The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet' by Norton
When people think of anti-virus computer software, they don’t think of punchy, captivating entertainment. Yet, that is exactly what Norton has achieved with the documentary series 'The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet'. The series explores the secret world of hacking and cyber crime and examines the threats involved with this underground world of scam and black markets. This extraordinary series is a stand out piece of branded entertainment that is packed with action and intrigue as well as important information. Above all else, this series achieves the brand’s strategy to get people thinking about cyber threats and online security. A remarkable achievement by Norton.
3. House of Little Moments by Uni-Noodle
Taiwanese noodle brand, Uni-Noodle, created a heart-warming series of short films set in a fictional noodle shop. The 'House of Little Moments', was billed as a micro-movie series, which aimed to create new noodle recipes, which were inspired by moods. The heartwarming short films were supported by recipes and guides to make the dishes featured in the series. Most significantly the series was so well received that the brand went on to launch a live experience, opening an actual noodle house in Taiwan. It’s also created a second series working again with its advertising agency ADK Taiwan. This unassuming short film series is a superb example of how successful branded entertainment can create genuine and authentic connections with audiences while entertaining them. Also, it makes you want to eat noodles. 'House of Little Moments' is an outstanding effort.
2. 'Heimkommen' by Edeka
It’s depressing, manipulative and it might just be one of the best Christmas ads you’ll ever see, or the worst, depending on your take of it. This polarising ad by German supermarket chain Edeka tells the story of a family’s journey home at Christmas time. This piece of film was panned and praised in equal measures by people around the world because of the emotional journey it takes the viewer on, and the lashings of guilt it heaps on top. However, I think this is what makes it the perfect Christmas film, because it wouldn't be Christmas without a family reunion, served up with a side order of guilt, right? It is unexpected, surprisingly and deeply emotional. The film was awarded the Grand Prix for its exceptional music track, the original song “Dad” by Neele Ternes and the judges said, "It's a heart-melting concept, a beautiful song. The story and the impact and the engagement were tremendous for a supermarket based in Germany." A very worthy winner.
1. 'The Displaced' by The New York Times
The New York Times created an exceptional virtual reality film 'The Displaced', which sought to tell the stories of three child refugees. The film seeks to bring to life the global refugee crisis that has driven 30 million children from their homes. Described by Cannes judges as “extraordinary” both as an editorial and a marketing piece of work, the film was used to launch the NYT virtual reality app. 'The Displaced', which was shot by Vrse.works, is a staggering piece of storytelling that is authentic, immersive and unforgettable; it also serves as an exceptional endorsement of the NYT’s storytelling abilities. This is no longer just a newspaper brand; this is a forward-thinking news content company. As Lions Entertainment, Jury President Jae Goodman, chief creative officer and co-head at CAA Marketing, said, this business changing idea helped "catapult the Gray Lady 100 years forward." "This is a piece of entertainment content that moves the brand and business forward. You have to experience this to understand why it won. If you haven't, it will be perspective-shifting when you do." A staggering and exceptional piece of storytelling that perfectly illustrates the importance of the New York Times brand.