Day 1 at Cannes: Case Studies from the PR Lions

Gavin Gibson is OMD’s Chief Strategy Officer.


‘Olly’ the emotional robot.


Computational Creativity is looking to be a primary theme of Cannes 2017. Neurosciences, combined with artificial intelligence are leading the ‘thought’ leadership charge with the debate being on where the convergence point really lies for marketing and creativity.

Speakers from Adobe and MIT shared similar view points on the benefits of computational creativity in a future world where artificial intelligence enhances our everyday lives.

A good example of computational creativity is ‘Olly’ a robot designed by emotech which learns human emotion (your emotions) and responds in kind based on predicting your needs over time.

Sitting at the heart of computational creativity is data, and lots of it. The data conversation in Cannes has greatly progressed over the past few years where it is now a mainstay, no longer the realm of the analysts, digi folk or tech partners. Creative directors are actively changing the creative process to ensure their work is data informed and I would argue more accountable as a result.

Some of the best case studies I saw today had data led strategies at the heart of the creative work. (More to follow shortly).

What was missing for me however, is how computational creativity is driving the efficacy agenda. AI learning based on predictive behavior could be a game changer in delivering measurable business growth for brands. For me, AI enhanced attribution modelling is the true ‘convergence point’ where science meets creativity.

For today’s showcase I reviewed the PR lions and as always it is one of the most hotly contested categories with some truly awe inspiring work.

Karen van Bergan the jury president of the PR Lion’s said, “The work that wins a Lion in PR this year will be grounded in research, insights and data that drive the strategy, demonstrate tangible and measurable business results.”

What became evident to me as I read / viewed the entries was how they reported against business success. Long term brand / business impact was seldom referenced (in fact I did not find a case study grounded on long term impact). Talkability or earned media equals behavior change… it is an implied result verses actual shift in behavior against the audience most relevant.

My favourite case studies (non CSR) in PR category are:

Love at first taste, Knorr’s. A brave campaign that brings to life the product benefit of food flavour within the online dating world. I love the data angle where IBM Watson was used to match couples based on preferred food flavour. It is compelling content and most importantly had a direct correlation to both brand and purchase results.


Max Motor Dreams (Ford in Spain), where parents with babies no longer need to do the late night drives in an aim to get bubba to sleep. It was topical for me as like most parents with young children this is a pain point.


Lastly, and my favorite of Cannes so far (there is some Aussie bias I admit), the Meet Graham campaign for the Transport Accident Commission in Victoria. I expect / hope this campaign walks away with a few lions as it is a masterful blend of storytelling, data led insights and use of non-traditional media that both educated and stayed top of mind for consumers. (Since writing this article it has picked up 5 lions, including the Grand Prix in the Health & Wellness category).


As an aside, to show anything can be media… toilet paper played a leading role in two shortlisted campaigns.

Flush HB2, where a US bill discriminating against the LGBTQ community was literally printed onto toilet paper.


Toilet paper for smartphones… representing Japanese hospitality.
“Don’t forget to wipe before you swipe (BBC)”
“Only in Japan” CNN.


I will leave you on that note.


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