Cannes Lions 2014: Thinking 'inside the box' to create the greatest work

Economy June 28, 2014 00:00

By Pradon Sirakovit

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It's that time of year when we celebrate the culmination of the greatest works in the world of advertising and communications.

Media and advertising practitioners all strive to create work that disrupts, generates buzz and of course, gives us hope of being recognised for our efforts. The pinnacle of every advertiser’s dream is to win a Cannes Lion award.
This year more than 37,000 works were sent from around the globe to compete in a total of 17 categories, so you can understand the rigour and difficulty in getting shortlisted for these awards, let alone trying to win one. The Cannes Lions event took place last week.
This year we witnessed some truly remarkable work from across the globe, with “The Sound of Honda” grabbing an amazing 15 prizes in eight categories, including the prize of the highest order – the Titanium Grand Prix, in recognition for being the No 1 outstanding work this year. 
This work demonstrated how data and technology were used to reignite a driving experience created 20 years ago when Ayrton Senna drove the fastest lap at Suzuka, seamlessly reproduced through an audio-visual installation on the circuit, never done before. The product was a short film, a 3D webpage and an application called Sound of Honda, all meant to validate Honda’s superiority in driving technology.
We tend to rely on lateral thinking or what we usually call “outside the box” thinking to produce the kind of work that sets off goose-bumps, executed through visually stunning technology and media. In many cases, however, we tend to over-think and ignore some basic human truths and motivations. Some work requires “inside the box” thinking that can be equally creative and effective at the same time. After all, the bottom line of advertising is to sell products.
One thing I saw at Cannes was a simple work from V/Line, a passenger-train operator in Australia that wanted to sell more tickets. Australia is a highly urbanised nation, with 90 per cent of its population living in the cities. So people growing up in rural areas usually leave for the big cities and never really come back. The insight was that retired parents living in rural areas hardly ever got to see their children who left to seek their fortunes in the big cities.
“Guilt Trip” was the campaign idea created to send city-dwelling children home based on the innate human emotion of guilt – in this case, the guilt of not going back home to see your parents enough. Prepaid tickets were produced and sent to recipients who could go back whenever they wanted, triggering guilty emotions. 
The campaign was executed through a mix of traditional and social media, with basic instructions for technologically challenged parents on how to send these tickets.
The results were a 12-per-cent increase in off-peak sales and an additional 123,000 tickets sold. Not too bad for a boring and seemingly un-innovative campaign.
Human beings are emotional sops, that is one thing we cannot deny. So sometimes we look too far away for answers when ironically they are staring us in the face.
Cannes 2014 showcased a plethora of work that was outrageously innovative and some, like V/Line’s, that were created from a simple truth. Creativity is very much alive and relevant as ever, especially in a rapidly increasing multi-platform media world. Please check out for all of the greatest works in the world of advertising. I hope you will be inspired by them, either for your own business or for your personal development.
Pradon Sirakovit is group head for strategy and innovation, IPG Mediabrands, and can be reached at