Cannes Lions 2021: the categories that should exist and who should have won them

Whew. We made it! Cannes Lions graced us with their presence again this year. ‘Twas a tough one, folks. Now that the biggest global advertising festival has returned after the ‘rona, there’s absolutely no reason for us to write a blog similar to last year’s. However, we’re going to anyway. Why? Well, no disrespect to Cannes Lions, but we feel that the classic categories are a bit … limited. So, we took it upon ourselves to create some categories of our own and announce its winners while we’re at it. Happy reading!

1. Gold in 'Account's Worst Nightmare'

72andSunny - Take a fantastic voyage with Photoshop

Cannes Lions celebrates the best in creativity. Much applause of course. But we wanted to shed light on the hardworking account managers that keep an eye on the budget, manage the tensions internally and loudly mumble "does this really answer the briefing?".

Gold in Account's Worst Nightmare goes to ‘Take a fantastic voyage with Photoshop’. Representing an array of creative pursuits that use Photoshop, the video takes us on a subway train through an artistic wonderland - quite literally. While the featured creativity is stunning and omnipresent, we especially wanted to applaud the Account Manager and Producer for managing such a big team of graphic designers, motion designers, VFX artists, 3D specialists, sound designers and many more. Also kudos for the partner of said person, because we can imagine how many long days it took to pull this off.


2. Grand Prix in 'David Attenborough-esque'

Nord DDB - Super Soothing Climate Progress Engineering Tracks

As hardcore David Attenborough enthusiasts, we can confidently state that there are few voices in the world that match the sweet, sweet pipes of Sir Atten-Baritone-ough. Mildly worrying insights about the state of our planet aside, Attenborough’s documentaries are a relaxing, ASMR-inducing, tranquilizing experience that every voice actor should aspire to. So, we sought out his contenders.

The problem: there really wasn’t that much competition. For the reasons stated above. So, we found the next best thing and added an -esque to our category.

Grand Prix in ‘David Attenborough-esque’ goes to Super Soothing Climate Progress Engineering Tracks. A collab between Swedish utility company Vattenfall and Nord DDB, this Spotify playlist features a 6-episode series of facts telling us that our favorite blue marble isn’t about to light up in hellfire yet. Instead, with nuanced facts and figures, it gives us hope for the future. What’s more? By disarming mildly worrying insights about the state of our planet, even just for a few minutes, the series actually has a leg up on Attenborough in achieving relaxation. Heaven forbid.


3. Best Use of 'Biggest Budget'

Nexus Studios - Drawn Closer

As we’ve explored in our Trendfeed 2021, the past year has had all of us gasping for the slightest bit of friendship and intimacy. This has left us trying to emulate this deeply human need with digital approximations that lack the warmth of human contact. And it’s been hard on all of us. But whoever we are, preteen kids probably have it worse. Set to miss some key moments of their childhoods, like starring in their first big school play, kids are more vulnerable than ever.

This insight shook the hearts over at Nexus Studios, Cox Communications and 180LA. 22 school kids from Thurman White Academy of the Performing Arts Middle School were selected to play in a school play-turned-movie, bombarding them from young teenagers to movie actors. Written and directed by Oscar winner Patrick Osborne (lucky kids, huh), the film is the first animation film of its kind.

Each of these kids is represented by a personalized character drawn from life, using facial tracking to mirror their expressions and adjust their acting performances where deemed necessary. What’s more? Patrick Osborne directed the entire film over Zoom. Beautiful storytelling, inspiring young talent and undoubtedly a whopping budget aside, remotely managing a bunch of preteens might actually be the most impressive feat here. Our hats off to you, Patrick.


4. Best 'Intentional Wes Anderson Set'

Nord DDB - Get Smoooth

Bringing back some of that ‘iconic americana’, as A$AP Rocky likes to call it, this ad for Klarna isn’t the most subtle reference to Wes Anderson the world has ever seen. The worldwide campaign is a collaboration between Swedish fintech company Klarna and singer/entrepreneur/vintage lover A$AP Rocky, calling for a return to fashion as we’ve enjoyed before the pandemic struck.

‘Drop your lockdown look. Get smooth again.’ That’s the wisdom A$AP Rocky shares in the video. We follow him during a day in the lockdown life, in which he decides to get a bag of chips from the local bodega. A fairly mundane plot, if it weren’t for literally everything else featured in the video. The warm color palette is a refreshing throwback to 1970s photography with angles that could put Stanley Kubrick to shame. With bright outfits and even brighter smiles, the side characters are nothing short of eccentric. The good kind.

The stunning visuals, interesting characters (a Skepta cameo included) as well as the background of an unreleased A$AP Rocky song work together in the very best way. It shows the brilliance of Director Los Perez, Director of Photography Ben Todd and Production Designer Mark Connell for their wonderfully whimsical portrayal of a mundane day, the ones we all know and hate. Wes Anderson would be proud. Probably.


5. Gold in 'Oneliners'

VMLY&R - The meat is meaty

The creative world is constantly searching for new voices and minds to introduce fresh perspectives. This year has seen a lot of this upcoming talent - some younger than others. The youngest of them all: Little Julien. When Julien’s mom Megan Jantos tweeted the storyboard he had made for Wendy’s, the fast food brand scrambled to make Julien’s creative vision a reality within a few hours. But not only Julien’s creative vision has shown great potential.

A talented copywriter in the making, Julien Jantos, comes at us with one oneliner after the other. Our vote wholeheartedly goes to ‘The meat is meaty and it fills you up!’, but ‘The mix of food is good’ is a definite runner-up. We’re sure little Julien has a wonderful copywriter’s career in store for him and wish him many more Golden Lions next to his bedtime night light.



6. Titanium in 'Capitalism Does Something Good For Once'

Tosti Creative - Reclame voor de Horeca

Businesses supporting other businesses - we love to see it. This idea has popped up often over the past year, and we have to say: capitalism did good for once. As many bars and restaurants had to close up during the worst bouts of the pandemic, they were left with little to no income to maintain their businesses. The kind of unpaid vacation no one would want.

In comes Amsterdam-based Tosti Creative with their campaign ‘Reclame voor de Horeca’ or ‘Advertising for the Catering Industry’. (Yes, the name is quite uninspired, but hey, it does the trick.)

The initiative connects local bars and restaurants to thriving businesses for some welcome collaboration, where the financially well-off company sponsors the bar or restaurant in exchange for promotion, ‘renting’ their window using a bright red poster. We love the idea and the execution, so kudos to all involved, but the fact that we’re excited about people doing good things for other people goes to show that the bar is truly on the ground. Do better, capitalism. (By the way: Does the collab also come with free alcohol? Asking for a friend.)



7. Grand Prix in 'Why'

TBWA/Chiat/Day - Paint a Bottle of MTN DEW with Bob Ross

We have to admit: we have our reservations about this one. Commercializing our late collective father figure and all-round-wholesome-dude Bob Ross for a PepsiCo soda brand feels a bit … icky. However, Mtn Dew has the blessing of Ross estate, so we suppose their judgement is worth more than ours.

The campaign features a ‘lost’ episode of The Joy of Painting where Bob, instead of a happy little tree friend, paints a bottle of Mtn Dew in a snowy landscape. The episode was filmed using a body double in prosthetics and a wig, which was then sprinkled with some CGI and face-mapping technology to create a Bob Ross deepfake. Think of it what you want, but the result is pretty impressive (and relaxing!). And, well, you can’t ever really go wrong with a good ol’ dose of Bob.


8. Gold in 'Understanding Human Nature'

Mother L.A. - Don't Cookbook

One collective pandemic-induced bread-baking phase later, us mortals have realized we can’t all be gifted with grandma’s cooking magic. Much to our dismay. But not to worry! Postmates understood the assignment swimmingly, and created a cookbook for the lazy people of the world, mixing up all kinds of conventions in the modern food sector. The cookbook features every copywriter’s dream copy assignment: creating clever imagery and funny copy that could give the vast majority of cookbooks a run for their money.

We can only gasp at the wonderfully retro photography and collages embellishing every other page. Also, every recipe features a QR code that will take you to local restaurants’ order page, rendering the cookbook delightfully useless. Feast your eyes, kids! (Because that’s the only feast coming from your hands tonight.)



All in all, it’s been a good year for creativity. Inspiration aplenty. Although hopefully less pandemic and more party next year.

Curious to see more creative work? Check out our own campaigns right away