An inspiring oasis at the back of the Palais

0.jpgSimon Langley, ECD, J. Walter Thompson Sydney escaped the crowds and lines of the main stages and found himself drawn this year to a more intimate side of the festival, The Innovation Lions. Langley reports exclusively for CB.

There is so much going on at the Cannes Lions, the hardest part is working out how you're going to get the most out of it. In previous years, I've often attended the main stages with the big names and celebrities that draw the huge crowds. Even this year, I went along to see the inspiring David Droga who kicked it off on Monday, and had a laugh at the expense of Donald Trump with Jeff Goodby and Michael Wolff. But as the festival rolled on, the lines grew and I found myself almost needing to camp out the night before just to get in.

I decided this year to spend more time over at the Innovation Lions in the smaller Palais II. Here, there are four main sections. The Innovation Stage, The Interactive Stage, The Lions Innovation Start-Up Academy and the Makers Lab. Bizarrely, even though there was a fantastic buzz and plenty going on, there were no crowds. Or huge lines.

After perusing the different areas, I settled in to The Makers Lab to watch the live judging of the Innovation Lions shortlist which is spread out over three days.
It's such a different dynamic to a normal jury room. More intimate, with a lot more accountability. What I loved, was there is absolutely nowhere to hide.
There's no 'spin' in the case study to sway the jury, or 'embellish' the idea. It was pure. Just you, your idea and the facts - all of which have to stand up to a barrage of questions from a jury of very intelligent people who know their stuff.

The format is fast and furious. You have 10 minutes - not a minute more - to present your case and convince the jury. After that, the jury have 10 minutes to ask questions. Led by Tor Myhren from Apple, the jury were tough and made the presenters work hard. Be prepared with a solid, robust idea or look silly in front of a room full of people.

It was very interesting to see the broad spectrum of ideas that made the cut. From things that seemed to be created for awards to huge ideas that were actually changing the world or a brand itself.

Adidas2.jpgAnd there were a few throughout the three days that really stood out and made me jealous. Especially these two.

'Adidas FUTURECRAFT:4D' is changing the way we make sneakers. With the rise of 3D printing it was only a matter of time, but the collaboration between Adidas and Carbon - a five-year-old tech company in California, takes it to another level with the ultimate in personalization. A sole for your runners basedAdidas-Futurecraft-4D.jpg precisely on you, taking into account things like weight, running style and foot shape. Carbon have created a unique process called Digital Light Synthesis, where light is projected into a resin which then hardens creating a much stronger and flexible material. But the genius of process allows the creation of 20,000 'struts' which can be 'tuned' across the three layers of heel, arch and sole for a shoe that literally fits like a glove.

By 2020, Adidas plan to be the largest 3D printer in the world, creating stores where anyone can walk in, get their foot scanned and have a completely customized midsole printed out for them on the spot. As someone with flat feet who wears orthotics on a daily basis this is music to my ears.

Dot 1.jpgNext up, 'Making the world accessible Dot by Dot' is another huge idea that began back in 2014 with Dot Technology - an electromagnetic actuator that simulates braille in real time. From this, a Dot Watch was created in 2016. A smart watch for the blind that enabled them to receive texts, use Google maps and more. Amazing (and one of our creatives Kostia was involved).

But the really exciting part of this project is the move from product, to product line, using this fantastic technology. Pleasingly,Dot 2.jpg they are not just stopping at the watch after it won every award in the world, hey have made the huge commitment to keep designing new products - enabled by developments in the tech.

On stage, they showcased the Dot Mini - which houses an AI based translation engine, essentially creating a Kindle for the blind that can translate any book into braille in a small, stylish and cost-effective device. Given there are 285 million visually impaired people worldwide this is an absolute game changer for the blind community.

Many of the ideas I saw throughout the live judging process were truly inspirational. Not only the size of the ideas, but the tenacity and commitment that was required to make each of them a realization. The best ones weren't one-offs designed to win a Lion, they had a much bigger purpose and are actually changing the way we live, for the better. Bravo.

I leave Cannes, again inspired to try and do similar things with our clients. Form true partnerships that set a vision of what we want to achieve together, and hopefully hold hands down the long and winding road of actually making it happen.


Cannes I go? said:

Cannes sounds so inspiring - thanks for sharing

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