My Favorite Work from the Cannes Lions 2019

I just returned, tan and happy, from a week at the Cannes Lions 2019. For those who don’t know, the Lions are the Oscars of Advertising. They take place in Cannes just barely a month from the Film Festival and offer a week of curated speaking from incredible industry leaders, nightly rosé rodeos along the croisette, and of course, a celebration of the year’s best work. Here are some of my favorite pieces from this year’s Cannes Lions.

Favorite Work from the Cannes Lions 2019

No Need to Fly – Deutsche Bahn

In a year of intricate entries, this campaign from the Deutsche Bahn stood out for its apparent simplicity. Rather, it relies on a complex algorithm that tracked travel search inquiries, supplied real-time airfare, geo-targeted user locations, and identified comparable German-local sights. It’s a brilliant way to remind German not to overlook the treasures in their own backyards.

Sleeping Flags – O.N.E.

Having spent so many years in San Francisco, the issue of homelessness really hits home for me. This powerful, emotional piece of work out of Ireland’s Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel) really highlights how national symbols get glorified, but national service is often overlooked. The most compelling part of this campaign is its impact. It incited enough conversation and controversy that the Irish government donated a new building to O.N.E, helping them to keep more homeless veterans off the streets.

Recup Arena – Budweiser

After the FIFA World Cup games, official sponsor was left with a problem: how best to recycle the more than 50,000 plastic beer cups the fans left behind? They decided the best way would be to reuse them for an unexpected purpose: a new football pitch in Sochi. The cups were melted down and remade into synthetic turf, giving back to future of the beautiful game.

Graffiti Stores – Nike

Shoutout to our fellow AKQA studio in Saõ Paolo for racking up a Grand Prix for this innovative idea. It seized a national trend—street art characters—and turned it into a brand experience. Offering a new way for Nike fans to engage with the brand, their city, and of course, purchase some slick new kicks in the process. What works so well is its agility, able to respond to real-time government updates and keep the project on the tip of the public’s tongue.

The Unbreakable Rainbow – Ben & Jerry’s

Poland is known for being one of the most homophobic countries in the world. When a rainbow arch sculpture was installed in Warsaw, hate groups burned it down so often the city was forced to stop rebuilding it. Ben & Jerry’s, which has championed LBGTQ rights since the late 70’s, decided to combat that intolerance with a simple symbol. A rainbow made of light and water—impossible to burn, and even more impossible to miss. It’s gorgeous work. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

When Work Works

The everyday grind of working in advertising can quickly make even the most starry-eyed creative cynical and jaded. I walked out of the week feeling rejuvenated by the work I saw and the impact it made, and ever more convinced that the work I do has such an effect on the world we live in. It’s not sales. It’s solutions.

Cheers to the winners—and now on to next year!