When digital Lions roar

Taking a look at some of the most intriguing winners at the Cannes festival.

by Mark Tungate , Adforum

There was a time, not so long ago, when digital and interactive entries were on the margins of Cannes, and film still felt like the most glamorous and important prize. But with Burger King’s Whopper Detour winning Mobile, Direct and Titanium Grand Prix – plus a stack of other metal – those days are gone.

Digital is at the heart of Cannes, just as it is at the heart of our industry.

With this in mind, we decided to look through the winners and see if we could spot a few that you may have overlooked – or might simply enjoy seeing again.

One our favourites was the Digital Craft Grand Prix from Virtue Nordics in Copenhagen. It played on the idea that while many young people have become aware of the dangers of over-consumption and waste, they also feel pressure to appear in a different outfit in every Instagram post. So why not create a virtual fashion collection?

Probably you’re aware of this next one, which won an Audio Grand Prix. We’ve included it here because audio is the new battleground for brands, as they try to stand out amid podcasts and voice activated assistants, while many consumers live in a perpetual sound bubble created by their wireless ear buds.

HBO and 360i’s campaign for the TV series Westworld is a game for Amazon’s Alexa that users play using only their voices, negotiating a maze as they interact with stars from the show. It’s fiendishly clever and – unlike many Cannes entries – feels entirely new.

Social campaigns and gender diversity, already prominent at last year’s festival, once again loomed large on the agenda. Here’s a Gold-winning mobile campaign that combines both. It springs from the insight that history is often just that: HIS story, in text books focusing on and written by men. But what if HER story was finally told?

This app enables students to hover their phone over a portrait of a man in a history book and unlock the story of an overlooked woman. It’s fun, educational – and necessary.

We love a good book, so this Bronze winner in the Social and Influencers category got our attention. It’s from Budapest and features an independent bookstore owner who beat the online giants by asking his favourite local authors to “open” their bookshelves to his customers. People could browse the bookshelves and order new copies of books they found there.

Here’s a Silver mobile winner for parents – particularly those who are contemplating long car journeys this summer. Obviously you can glue your kids to tablets, but how about encouraging them to look out of the window for a change? Isobar and Volkswagen have an augmented reality solution that may stop them from asking, “Are we nearly there yet?”

Talking of journeys, what’s the first thing you do when you get back from a business trip (to Cannes, for example)? Fill out your expenses, right? But let’s face it, nobody likes squinting at receipts and totting up their accounts. Fortunately there’s an app for that. It’s called Expensify. In order to promote it, the agency JohnXHannes created a genuine rap music video that allowed viewers to snap receipts shown briefly on the screen and swap them for real life cash…

It’s a bit early for Christmas, but if you’re feeling the heat, it may be nice to cool down with this touching film from Huawei and FCB Inferno in London. The invention is an app for deaf children that signs stories. We’ve included the case film right after so you can see how it works.

To finish in a neatly elliptical style, here’s what happened when Burger King turned to artificial intelligence to create a TV ad. The results are reassuring.