WPP decorations at WPP Beach at Cannes

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Innovation and impact at Cannes 2022

WPP’s major wins focus on health, inequity, the planet, the metaverse and commerce

For the first time since 2019, the Cannes LIONS International Festival of Creativity took place in person to showcase the best creative work from around the industry.

A total of 25,464 entries from 87 countries which, combined, provided a phenomenal insight into creative marketing globally. The sheer volume of entries demonstrated the value of creativity to corporates, to trade and to growth.

There were also some firsts. For the first time, there was a Creative B2B Lions category. It received 415 entries from 188 companies, representing 37 countries. This new award – for creativity from new disciplines and new business areas – set a new benchmark for a category of work that had not been recognised previously.

It was quite a week for WPP in particular. We won 176 Lions, including one Titanium, four Grand Prix, 36 Gold, 47 Silver and 88 Bronze awards and Ogilvy was awarded Network of the Year. Operating companies from across WPP, and from all around the world, contributed to this huge achievement.

While the mood at Cannes was celebratory, no one forgot the devastation of the war in Ukraine. WPP announced a partnership to attract investment into Ukraine and help rebuild its economy. Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, discussed the campaign in a session with WPP CEO, Mark Read. WPP agencies from Ukraine, Poland and Czech Republic will work with the Minister and his government colleagues on ‘Advantage Ukraine’ to demonstrate that Ukraine is open for business.

Also of global significance was the announcement from the Advertising Association that Ad Net Zero is going global, which started in the UK and of which WPP was a founding member. This is the industry-wide initiative, together with ISBA and the IPA, to reach net zero ad operations by 2030.

And let’s not forget IBM’s announcement involving this industry’s major players which uses IBM's open-source toolkit to identify and mitigate ad tech bias. This is was of particular importance given the focus on Web3, and what this means for transparency, decentralisation and consumer privacy.

But there were some very clear themes to emerge from the 2022 awards that will only become more stand-out going forward.

The importance of being wowed by sheer creativity

A campaign from Ogilvy and Wavemaker that reaches 1bn people and supports small businesses at a time of crisis deservedly won a Titanium Award. ‘Shah Rukh Khan-My-Ad’ used generative AI technology and location data to create a hyper-personalised ad featuring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

AKQA Coala.LAB turned Nego Bala’s story of incarceration, hope and resilience into a short film to coincide with the release of his debut album. The work comprises a 15-minute music video, set to the song Sonho (Dreams), which portrays the Brazilian artist’s own experiences in juvenile detention, while sharing a message of hope.

Also up there for creativity is ‘Morning After Island’. Ogilvy worked with Grupo Estratégico PAE to put pressure on policymakers and redress the clampdown on women’s rights. This is a multinational campaign seeking to overturn the 2009 decree banning the sale and distribution of emergency contraceptive pills and imposing severe penalties for using them. As a result of the ban, an increasing number of underage girls are becoming mothers – with one in four Honduran girls becoming pregnant before turning 18. To address the void, Ogilvy created a space in international waters, outside Honduran jurisdiction, where women can take the morning after pill without fearing prosecution.

For ultimate storytelling, Burger King must be celebrated. It has removed 8,500 tonnes of artificial preservatives from its products worldwide. The brief to DAVID, INGO Stockholm and Publicis was to tell this story to the world. ‘Burger King's Moldy Whopper’ generated a 14% sales increase, 8.4 billion impressions and $40 million in Earned Media Value – as well as an uplift in positive brand sentiment of 88%.

Tackling health crises through the best thinking

A Grand Prix LION went to VMLY&R’s ‘I Will Always Be Me’ in partnership with the Motor Neurone Disease Association for Dell Technologies and Intel. Rolls-Royce and SpeakUnique were also part of the team. Together, they launched a life-changing platform for those living with motor neurone disease. It enables their voices to be archived and then used when they can no longer speak themselves, thereby retaining that part of their identity that they would otherwise have lost.

Prevention was very much saluted at Cannes 2022 with the award of a Grand Prix to ‘The Killer Pack’ by Maxx Flash and VMLY&R Mumbai. The award was in recognition of mosquito-repellent packaging that kills larvae breeding amongst rubbish, thereby averting a health crisis outdoors while the product itself is put to work indoors.

Further on the prevention front was the award-winning work from MACMA (a non-profit organisation that supports women with breast cancer) and Ogilvy agency DAVID Buenos Aires – ‘The Art of Self-Examination’. This work focuses on breast cancer detection. It appeared in the Hispanic American Museum of Art Isaac Fernández Blanco, in the City of Buenos Aires, to teach visitors how to recognise breast cancer symptoms.

Dealing with inequity, poverty and wellbeing

There were Gold LIONS awarded across social and wellbeing issues during the 2022 festival. A case in point is Dove – very much a purpose-led brand – with ‘Reverse Selfie’, from Ogilvy, which stands up for natural beauty in a digital era. Research shows that, by the age of 13, 80% of girls distort the way they look online. This work highlights the widespread damage caused by heavily edited selfies.

Dove and Ogilvy were on a roll. Their ‘Courage is Beautiful’ work also won a 2022 award, honouring health workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tampon Book’ moved the dial for female wellbeing. To circumvent Germany’s 19% luxury tax on feminine hygiene products, The Female Company, an online store selling female healthcare products designed by women for women, worked with Berlin-based agency Scholz & Friends to package 15 organic tampons inside a 46-page book, which was taxed at the lower 7% rate for daily necessities.

Ogilvy, with input from healthcare professionals, Roto Tanks and the Ministry of Health of Kenya, showcased ‘Lesso Lessons’ which used tradition to bring about positive change. In Kenya, more than a quarter of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Their mothers often carry their babies on their backs in slings made of distinct, vividly patterned cloth called lessos. Ogilvy decided to turn these lessos into lessons in postnatal nutritional care by including on them information on breastfeeding.

A Gold Lion in the ‘Glass: Lion for Change’ category went to ‘Don’t Ever Leave Me’, created by Ogilvy Greece for Mondelez's Lacta to address the increase in domestic violence in Greece in 2021. This short film demonstrates exactly what a toxic relationship really looks like.

Doing the right thing by people and the planet

Sheba Hope Reef’ – for which Mediacom was the Media agency – by AMV BBDO for Mars Petcare won a Grand Prix and is a prime example of award-winning work that focuses attention on the planet. It is all about the building of Hope Reef, a huge coral reef restoration programme near Indonesia, that spells out the word “HOPE” to promote the idea that coral reefs can come back to life. The aim was to highlight Sheba’s goal of sourcing sustainable ingredients for its products.

Further on the sustainability front, VMLY&R worked with Greenpeace on ‘Los Santos +3°C’ to raise awareness on environmental issues in the video game Grand Theft Auto. Gamers were invited to play in Los Santos, a virtual city that’s almost a mirror image of Los Angeles, under the pressure of extreme weather events.

The campaign included a webpage where users can discover the effects of climate change on Los Santos, Brazil. Visitors are kindly asked by Greenpeace to financially support those affected by extreme climate events and sign a petition calling for state governors declare a climate emergency.

It is all about being inside the medium

The metaverse was rightly present in all sorts of ways across the event. Berlin Cameron’s ‘Under Armour's Genesis Curry Flow’ demonstrated just how real the metaverse really is for brands. Under Armour wanted to celebrate the three-point world record of their star basketball player, Stephen Curry, so Berlin Cameron created the first metaverse wearable: the ‘Genesis Curry Flow’ sneaker then released 2,974 NFTs, reflecting Stephen’s world record.

This meant that, for the very first time, gamers were able to move through the metaverse wearing the same sneaker. The NFTs sold out in minutes, and the goal to raise $1 million for Under Armour’s charities was reached instantly.

Transforming how we think about commerce

Most of the campaigns celebrated above also transform how we think about commerce. Perhaps one campaign particularly helps us to imagine commerce completely differently. Creative B2B Grand Prix winner Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings – with Wunderman Thompson Minneapolis – showcased 'Speaking in Color'.

It is an AI, voice-controlled tool that produces colours based on human inspiration, and it has enabled architects to turn a memory or vision into their perfect colour.

We have been spoilt for amazing ideas and outstanding execution – within the context of real-life challenges and uncertainties. Cannes 2022 did not disappoint.

published on

01 July 2022


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