The Cannes International Festival of Creativity is the highlight of the global advertising calendar, as well as showcasing and celebrating the best work from the previous year, it also provides a snapshot of the key trends and themes emerging across the industry.
This year was no exception. Among the industry’s ongoing shift towards ideas for good and a general social conscience in brand marketing, another major theme was evident in the work winning awards – entertainment.
This was the year branded entertainment well and truly broke through and dominated the awards. The awards were dominated by work that was entertaining, enthralling and engaging.
From the blitzkrieg of ‘Dumb Ways To Die’ to the plaudits heaped on ‘The Beauty Inside’, major brands showed they could do more than create TV ads. Between them these two campaigns won Eight Grands Prix including sharing the Film Grand Prix - a significant acheievement for two digitally and social led campaigns.
This year’s winners reveal the ad industry future is all about branded entertainment, content and great storytelling.
Some outstanding efforts came in the form of a feature length film from Canadian beer brand Kokanee ‘The Movie Out Here’, a lovely transmedia campaign from MYDSL Manila, ‘Screen-Age Love Story’ and IBM’s Guinness World Record holding smallest stop motion film ‘A Boy and His Atom’, (read more on this campaign here).
While the absence of Red Bull (and its Stratos project) was noticeable, the brand stayed true to its positioning as a media company, stating it does not enter advertising awards, preferring awards such as the Sports Emmy’s, where Red Bull content belongs.
Even without branded entertainment’s poster child Red Bull, this year’s festival was dominated by projects demonstrating the power of entertainment and storytelling.
In a year when film entries dropped, online film entries rose and celebrities flocked to the festival to talk brand collaborations and brand-funded entertainment, it was clear the industry is captivated with branded entertainment, just as we are at Branded Arts Review.
Here are Branded Arts Review’s pick of the Best Branded Entertainment campaigns at Cannes 2013.
Four standout examples of branded arts and entertainment, which deserve special mention for the unique and brilliantly executed projects were:
‘Stories for Every Journey’, a campaign for Qantas Frequent Flyers program, which created bespoke books edited so that the reading time fits within a flight journey, created by Droga5 Sydney.
‘Bridge of Life’ a piece of art by Samsung which went beyond advertising to demonstrate how brands can contribute to society and change peoples lives, created by Cheil Worldwide, Seoul.
To celebrate Oreo’s 100th birthday the brand created a captivating campaign, which saw the brand create topical ads each day featuring the Oreo cookie. Each ‘ad’ featured the iconic cookie and took a playful ‘Oreo twist’ on the days events. This social campaign kicked off with the now iconic Rainbow cookie for gay pride and continued to gain steam throughout the campaign. The social media campaign generated a huge amount of attention, proving the impact of topicality and revealing people’s insatiable appetite to be entertainment. A great example of how content can engage huge audiences and hold their attention.
Dove created a social experiment enlisting an FBI-trained sketch artist to draw a woman’s portrait first according to her description of herself and then according to a strangers description. The film revealed woman are more beautiful than they think and captivated a global audience who could all relate to such a profoundly powerful insight. The film went viral fast and has been crowned the most viewed film of all time. Dove is up there with the Red Bull’s and Nike’s for understanding its audience and using simple but powerful insights to engage them. Ever since Dove Evolution went spectacularly viral in 2006, Dove has been single minded in its strategy to make women believe they are beautiful. A superb strategy and one which provides ample opportunities for meaningful storytelling, Real Beauty Sketches is original and thoughtful.
Nike created a football league giving millions of young people a chance to try out for a Nike Football Academy and a shot at achieving their dream of becoming a pro footballer. Sometimes I think Nike is overlooked by juries through a combination of jealousy and an obsession with reinventing the wheel. This is a brilliant brand initiative and a superb piece of entertainment. Sure the concept is not new, but the execution is faultless and the storytelling is compelling and fascinating. The entire initiative is an excellent branded entertainment project. Nike Football and AKQA have created a brand platform with the Academy, then they’ve filmed the entire thing to create a secondary content platform of films and social content. While major rival Adidas spends millions sponsoring top footballers and making big flashy campaigns, Nike creates this project and supports grassroots players. It cements the brand’s positioning: Nike is for the people while Adidas is for the pros. Top marks.
An animated video and song about rail safety. On paper it’s hard to imagine this piece of work could become the most awarded campaign at Cannes this year, let alone the string of other festivals it has already dominated. This public safety announcement has been viewed more than 50 million times and most significantly has been hugely successful with its target audience of under 25-year-olds. The campaign captivated adults and children a like and is so catchy you’ll be humming it for days. As a piece of branded entertainment Dumb Ways To Die, is staggering. It’s a masterclass in storytelling: hook the audience early, keep them intrigued and interested, make them laugh, lull them into a happy place, then hit them with the message. It’s perfect. More than anything it proves that you can create amazing compelling work on a budget for any client. Dumb Ways to Die helps put a stop to the argument that great work only comes from brands like Nike or Red Bull and proves that amazing work comes from great creative agencies pushing clients to be brave and vice versa.
An online blockbuster, which merged technology, social media and Hollywood to set the bar for branded entertainment – ‘The Beauty Inside’ is a staggering achievement. A series of episodic online films, ‘The Beauty Inside’ told the story of Alex, a man who wakes up in a different body every day, with only his laptop to record his story. The social film recruited actors via social media and gave audiences the chance to upload video diaries that were shared on Facebook. The film’s message – it’s what’s inside that really matters – was the perfect way to hook the demographic, but of course most brilliantly is Intel’s brand message. The Cannes judges were captivated calling the campaign: “really beautiful” and “born out of a powerful brand truth--that is, it’s what inside that counts.” They weren’t the only ones who were impressed the work has also picked up an Emmy. This incredible project was the follow-up to the hugely successful social film experience ‘Inside’ in 2011 and proved even more successful at engaging a young savvy audience and generate huge awareness. I’ve praised this work on a number of occasions on this blog (you can read more here & here). The Beauty Inside was a game changer, it was innovative, ground breaking and really pushed the boundaries of branded entertanment.