It was an absolutely thrilling experience to be in the Mobile Lions jury at Cannes and spend five long days looking at all the work, debating and deliberating, before coming to the conclusion on the winning entries.
Being in the same room as another dozen or so experienced creative, tech and digital professionals for this long, and to interact with them was an education by itself. The additional bonus was to be able to look at the best of marketing work, from all over the world.
The work seen over these five days was quite diverse in all respects. There was a lot that was extremely tech intensive - use of proximity sensors, location, real-time data visualisation, augmented reality, virtual reality, using fancy gear etc. And of course, all of those were awe inspiring for what they could create.
But at the same time, there were some very simple ideas, including something as basic as using SMS . Yet, it was executed well and hence, created an impact.
The ultimate Grand Prix winner and the second contender for the same, both 'enablers' for marketing, and not actual marketing activations. The winner was the game-changing, well-packaged piece of cardboard, which is actually called Google Cardboard, and which democratises Virtual Reality for all. The world of VR may well be referred to as Before Cardboard and After Cardboard - that is the kind of impact this has created.
Likewise, the other contender, Lisnr, has game-changing potential. It is a technology that triggers apps based on sounds. Sounds which may not even be heard; sounds that can actually be at frequencies beyond human hearing, but which are good enough for the mobile app to detect and take programmed action. This then becomes an awesome way to do location detection, and create engagement, basis that.
Another big winner was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for the sheer reach and impact it created, and for the fact that mobile was very integral to its amplification.
Then there was this mind-boggling app from L'Oreal, called the Make Up Genius, which enables one to use the simple mobile phone and try out all kinds of cosmetics on themselves extremely accurately. To deliver a simple solution requires complex back end work, and which is what this app was all about.
There was a lot of work that helped humans in distress, disease, emergencies, etc. and such work was also very popular from a winning point of view. An aid for Alzheimer's patients, a security back up for girls walking home alone, an SOS system for someone in a road emergency etc. are examples of these.
To be considered to win, in this category, the entry must be truly 'mobile' to begin with. Mobile needs to be integral to the idea. Beyond that, the entry must be very relevant to the specific sub-category where it is entered. Sub-categories include, for example, activation by location, activation by proximity, augmented reality, innovative technology, networked mobile technology etc. Relevance to the sub-category is very crucial. Beyond these, one sees the impact that the idea created, the way the case film brings it all out, and how the results are shown.
A good packaging of all of these enables a potentially winning entry.
The beauty of a diverse set of entries and a diverse jury is that one appreciates the range of work and also the relevance in a certain geography over another. So while some of the concepts seen are very western-world oriented, there are many concepts that can be easily extended to India, especially the kind that were coming from countries in South America, for example.
I was disappointed to see that not only were there no winners from India, there were hardly any entries to even consider. While at one end, for the larger tech rich campaigns that I saw, Indian clients and Indian agencies may not quite be ready yet, there was so much simple work which was executed well that we can easily do such work in India. And we are probably doing some such work. Where we may be lacking in India, is to provide a nice finesse to such ideas, package them well, execute them flawlessly, and then of course, from a Cannes point of view, package them well also for an award entry. It is not a lot of distance to cover, and I hope that we will bridge this soon.
I look forward to seeing India being as much, if not more of a contender, for Mobile Lions awards, as countries from South America are.
(The author is Joint CEO, Social Wavelength, a J Walter Thompson Company. Follow the author at @sm63 and @jwtindia)