Cannes Lions 2016: Grand Prix Awards Honor Creativity, Humor, Social Causes

As the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity came to a close, 26 Grand Prix awards were handed out across Cannes Lions, Lions Health, Lions Innovation and Lions Entertainment.


The winner of the Film Grand Prix was the “Shoplifters” campaign by Harvey Nichols, the iconic British department store, in a spot by adam&eveDDB promoting the retailer’s loyalty rewards app.

“The Grand Prix goes to a new way to use security camera footage to sell a rewards card, of all things, for a retailer,” said Joe Alexander, chief creative officer at The Martin Agency and Film Lions jury president, as reported by Adweek. “It’s just a phenomenal piece. I think the best pieces now cross over. This one ran in cinema, it ran as an incredible viral piece. It’s a very modern piece of film that lived in both worlds.”

“The music, the animation, the edit, the copy – flawless,” Alexander also told USA Today. “And it’s the kind of film that works just as well in paid media as unpaid, a quality the best films today must have.”

The 1:40-minute film opens with real security camera footage of shoplifters (heads obscured) stealing clothes, jewelry and perfume from Harvey Nichols’ flagship store in Knightsbridge, London. Footage of them being chased (and caught) leads to the tagline “Love freebies? Get them legally” to promote the retailer’s Rewards App.

“What’s funny about it is it’s a really ugly [as in raw] film but it brought an idea to life in a way you never thought possible,” Alexander added.

“When we got to see it on the big screen—this had never happened to me in a jury room before—once it was finished, the whole jury room spontaneously started applauding,” added juror Ana Balarin, executive creative director at Mother London. “Who would have thought that a film with a low budget, without a script, using found footage could be so entertaining and have such a rich narrative?”


Under Armour’s “Rule Yourself: Michael Phelps” (by Droga5) took the top prize in Film Craft, which won over other branded short films such as Hennessy’s “The Piccards” spot.

“We chose this piece because, at the end, it’s the one that transcended the craft and just reached out and touched us,” said juror Steffen Gentis, chief production officer of BBDO Germany, in Adweek. “The craft became completely invisible, and we just found ourselves completely immersed.”



REI’s #OptOutside won the Titanium Grand Prix for the retailer’s widely-celebrated decision to close its doors on Black Friday and kick off holiday shopping season by encouraging people to get outdoors instead.



The Integrated Grand Prix went to Netflix for a House of Cards presidential campaign called “F.U. 2016”—with F.U. standing, of course, for Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey.

Notably at Cannes Lions 2016, technology was not honored as its own category, but assumed to be threaded throughout. “We’ve got to remember that technology enables opportunity, but it’s creativity that enables value,” said BBH cofounder Sir John Hegarty in Forbes.


The New York Times won the Grand Prix in the Entertainment and Mobile categories for “The Displaced,” a virtual reality short filmthat places viewers inside the global refugee crisis seen through the eyes of three children in South Sudan, Ukraine and Syria.


Google’s Project Jacquard, meanwhile, took home the Grand Prix in Product Design with a nod to Levi’s as founding partner with the Commuter trucker jacket as a wearable tech proof point for their collaboration.


“It was something that we imagined could be a sustainable solution that would enable and empower us to build a better, safer life, while also challenging the status quo,” said jury president Amina Horozic, lead industrial designer at fuseproject.



Cannes Lions named Samsung marketer of the year, and won 29 awards overall, while Grand Prix awards also went to Panasonic (for “Life is Electric” by Dentsu Tokyo), Burger King (for Y&R’s “McWhopper” peace offering to McDonald’s) and John Lewis (for “The Man on the Moon” holiday campaign):



Also speaking on the last day and summarizing one of the festival’s big themes—that brands must have a clear and consistent purpose—watch TOMS founder and 2016 LionHeart Award winner Blake Mycoskie in conversation with Cannes Lions TV on giving back to the community and his advice for budding entrepreneurs:




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