Challenging the norm - our commentary on Cannes Lions

A creative idea exists for one reason and one reason alone: to out think your competition.

By Creative Director Jim Thomas, Summer 2016

Our commentary on the Cannes Lions 2016


Creativity isn't something that comes from the sort of books that break things down into a formula.

The 8 truths, or the 12 principles, or the 10 essential thoughts.

It comes from a different place. Understanding customers’ thinking. Then changing their behaviour. It’s thinking that comes from art schools and salesmen. Both know they have to stand out.

Award winning creative should do just this. There's simply no point in being clever, if you don't change the way someone thinks, and ultimately, how they act. And whilst Cannes 2016 felt rather more like a trade fair than a showcase of creativity, much of the work that was shared felt clever in a new way.

The overriding trend we saw was for work that showed, rather than told. Where the idea was so blindingly obvious, it made you wonder why nobody had thought of it before.

The best way to explain this is by example.

Some of our hot picks of award winning creative work

Breast cancer awareness in Argentina

In Argentina, where there’s a catholic conservatism, women’s breasts and nipples are a sensitive subject on social networks. But men’s aren’t. So using a fat man with moobs, a breast cancer charity, MACMA, showed women how to carry out a breast examination.

This campaign also highlighted the fact that men can get breast cancer in a simple, visual way.

How about giving people time?

For frazzled new parents who were up all night Carrefour offered  a special reward - time.

From midnight until 5am Carrefour opened a special online supermarket where mums and dads could do their shopping and get exclusive night-time discounts on baby products.

A benefit at last in sleepless nights!

2019 UPDATE: Carrefour did it again in 2019,  with their stunning "Black Market" campaign - read more about the campaign in AdWeek

Or how do you sell when your target market is too young to buy?
You can’t sell a pram to a baby. So how do you show parents that their baby will be in the most comfortable buggy on the market.


Stroller built adult-sized buggies for parents to ride in and experience how comfy they were for their children.

Interrupting micro-moments
You can use an idea to interrupt the very moment a consumer is thinking about buying a product. This is what Maserati did in Germany.

Maserati knew that their car competed with the BMW 5 series, Mercedes E Class and the Audi A6.

Where do people go to find out more about a car? The internet. So Maserati bought the words “BMW 5 series”, “Mercedes C Class”, “Audi A7” and ‘test drive”.

When someone searched using these words the first ad they saw was from Maserati offering them a test drive from their home to the nearest BMW, Mercedes or Audi dealership.

You beat your competition. Your target market get a test drive in a Maserati before any German car salesman gets anywhere near them. Maserati got a 150% uplift in test drives and 10% more car sales.

Everyone loves dogs
People hate to think of dogs being put to sleep. An Auckland dogs' home used a very simple everyday insight to tap into this and reduce churn.

There is a common saying that owners look like their dogs. This clever Aussie charity built a digital product integrating facial recognition software. They asked people to scan their faces, to see which dog best matched their face. They called this device ‘Doggleganger’.

And how could someone refuse a dog who matched them?

It helped empty the pound of dogs, gave people the chance to own a dog that matched them –and, importantly, and stopped the dogs' home from looking like the bad guys who put healthy dogs to sleep.

By injecting fun into the very start of a potential adopter's journey, this digital solution not only created differentiation from other dog adoption services, but has the potential to increase the conversion rate - in this case, the number of people that actually go on to adopt a dog.

Put viewers at the heart of the experience
What better way to show oppression than to show the freedom we have?

Asking people to give Amnesty access to their Facebook accounts let Amnesty show Facebookers how many countries they could be arrested in, tortured or killed.

Such innocuous things as having a drink, posting something anti government were tallied up to show how the world’s most controlling regimes would punish you.

Here's the film from the winning Outrage campaign.

We’ve chosen all these creative examples for one simple reason. They may all use the media of the moment, but at the core is one simple thought - an involving demonstration.


Thanks to BH&P's favourite CD, Jim Thomas, for writing this article on award winning creative.