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Cannes Lions was brimming with memorable campaigns this year.
To name a few, there was Soundcloud’s tribute to the Berlin Wall memorial and Apple’s user-submitted gallery of photos shot on an iPhone 6. They were vivid, imaginative and in some instances, haunting.
Yet amid the competitors, a few winners stood tall. These campaigns are making a positive impact on our communities with tangible inventions or tech-driven strategies. And while so many brands claim they're "changing the world" in startup launches, press releases or product pitches – these winners have truly earned their titles.
Below are our favorite Cannes Lions campaigns of the year. These five Grand Prix winners are changing our world, starting with one interaction.
1. Volvo: LifePaint
Grand Prix: Promo & Activation, Design
This campaign brought home two Grand Prix – for a reason. The spotlight product, LifePaint, was developed in conjunction with the Volvo XC90’s new safety features, including a “pedestrian and cyclist detection system”.
The paint contains reflective molecules that glow when in contact with headlights, particularly useful for late-night bike rides. The best part: the spray is invisible in the daylight, easily washes off and does not harm fabrics, meaning you only see it at a time when it could save your life.
If successful, the product will go on sale in shops throughout the UK. We hope it makes it to this side of the pond soon.
2. Vodafone: Red Light Application
Grand Prix: Media
70 percent of women worldwide will experience physical and/or sexual abuse by an intimate partner during their lifetimes. To put a stop to this, Vodafone has created a secret app that helps women alert trusted sources when they are in danger.
The app – whose name won’t be revealed here – originally masked itself as a flashlight app. To use, a woman simply opens the app and shakes her phone. The app automatically alerts three of her pre-chosen contacts that she is in danger.
As it’s virtually impossible for a woman to call an emergency number, or send a text to a friend, in the midst of an attack, the app’s value is immeasurable. So far, 24 percent of women in Turkey (where it launched) have download the app. It's been activated 103,122 times.
By far, the most impressive aspect of this app is its marketing. To ensure men wouldn’t be able to see or recognize it, advertisements were only featured in secret locations such as lingerie tags, beauty products, public restrooms, or deep inside the content of popular female vloggers. And this was only phase one.
To read more about the innovative marketing strategy, and the ingenious phase two, watch the short below.
Grand Prix: Innovation
About four billion people on this planet don’t have reliable street addresses. While latitude and longitude coordinates do provide location details, they’re an impractical method for everyday use. Imagine for a moment, visiting a new country and trying to find directions for a series of seemingly meaningless numbers.
Enter What3Words, a global addressing platform. The company assigns three-meter squares around the planet with unique combinations of three common dictionary words, such as “lamp, table, spoon.” As a much simpler way to remember addresses, it’s inspired easier transactions for things that most of us take for granted, like postage delivery and taxi navigation, as well as vital humanitarian aid efforts and clean water monitoring.
Since inception, What3Words has become an increasingly popular tool, integrated into numerous government resources and tech-owned mapping systems. It has also enabled residents to take control of their surroundings, from finding better schools for their families to acquiring microfinancing for growing businesses.
4. Lucky Iron Fish
Grand Prix: Product Design
Approximately half of Cambodia is plagued by an iron-deficiency epidemic, the cause of underlying health concerns and pregnancy complications. The average meal, fish and rice, is low in the necessary nutrient and supplements are too expensive for the average family to afford.
Fortunately, Lucky Iron Fish discovered that cooking with a block of iron for 10 minutes could supply a family with 75 percent of their daily iron intake. To get people to actually cook with the metal – which is a little counter-intuitive, after all – they constructed the block using safe recycled materials, packaged by local artisans and designed in the shape of a fish, a cultural symbol of luck.
In addition to creating hundreds of jobs for disabled Cambodians, Lucky Iron Fish has lowered iron deficiencies in its test group by 50 percent. Now that’s something to be proud of.
5. Always: Like a Girl
Grand Prix: PR
Personally, I have a weak spot for both this campaign and Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” initiative. Both are about inspiring confidence and strength in women, while proving naysayers wrong.
In the end, Always’ mission to transform the world by challenging our assumptions of femininity won. Too often women are thought of as “lesser” or “weaker”. This campaign encourages not just young girls – but every gender, age and culture – to think about the effect of these assumptions on self-esteem and consciously change behaviors for the better.
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