At Cannes Lions, Talk Is of Real-Time

Cannes, France– Among the big themes here this week are the rise of real-time messaging and the blurring of lines between digital and physical life.

The trends were evident not only in award-winning client work, but also in session content, party conversations, and experiments on the streets of Cannes.

The Winners: Real-Time and Physical

“We Choose the Moon” (Gold Lion, The Martin Agency), created for the JFK Presidential Library, recreated the Apollo moon mission exactly 40 years after it happened. Over four days, more than 100 hours of audio transmissions were streamed to and to a Twitter account that grew to 30,000 followers.

Best Buy’s Twelpforce (Bronze Lion, Crispin Porter + Bogusky) mobilized a small army of experts who give tech advice in tweet form based on the immediate needs of Twitter users.

Nike Livestrong Foundation’s “Chalkbot” (Grand Prix Lion, Wieden+Kennedy) invited people to create messages of hope to be chalked by a robot-like device on the 2009 Tour de France roadway. People sent roughly 36,000 such messages via SMS, Twitter, Web banners, and a website at

Volkswagen’s “The Fun Theory” campaign (Grand Prix, DDB Stockholm) added interactive sound effects to physical environments to encourage healthier behaviors. The most famous, “The Piano Staircase,” was turned into a video that’s been viewed more than 12 million times.

“While digital has always been about innovation, this year it seemed to be also about pure invention,” said Jeff Benjamin, chief creative officer of Crispin Porter + Bogusky and president of the Cyber Jury. “It’s this notion of creatives coming together with technologists.”

Responsive objects like Chalkbot and Piano Staircase are a familiar sight at the Palais this year. One of the more popular examples is SapientNitro’s smile-activated ice cream vending machine prototype for Unilever. The machine recognizes facial expressions and gives passersby a “smile-o-meter” rating before spitting out the ice cream treat of their choosing. A photo is taken of the ice cream eater’s mug and is uploaded, with permission, to Facebook.

Real-Time Cyber Jury

2010 was the first year Cannes management allowed the Cyber jury to send tweets from the judging room. According to juror Chloe Gottlieb, the first thing she and her colleagues did was settle on a collective hashtag they could all use to share impressions of the entries – without naming names of course. The result was the #Cyberjury tag, which produced an abundance of tweets and retweets as ad creatives monitored jurors’ live reactions to the work.

Gottlieb recorded a video Q&A with ClickZ describing the experiment. Watch it here.

On-Stage Optimization

Adobe brought the real-time meme to its on-stage presentation, launching and optimizing an ad for Rolex during a live seminar here yesterday.

An Adobe exec showed how the company has integrated the capabilities of Omniture, which it bought last year, with Creative Suite 5 – allowing agency creatives to build and test ad copy and other factors in a live Web environment.

Other than proving how much Rolex apparently trusts Adobe, the unique demonstration showed how real-time campaign optimization is becoming a regular part of the creative pallete.

David on Demand

Perhaps the most visible example of real-time communication here is the meandering presence of David Perez. The Leo Burnett staffer is traipsing around Cannes with a Web-linked video camera strapped to his head (see live stream) and a willingness to do the bidding of Twitter users who tweet him orders at @DavidOnDemand.

So far Internet users have ordered David to get a tattoo, shave a weird pattern into his hair, go parasailing, and sing Rick Astley’s 1980s pop hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” And he’s done all of it. According to Porter Novelli data, David Perez and #DavidOnDemand commanded about 25 percent of the online conversation at Cannes for one 24-hour period this week.


Follow Zachary Rodgers on Twitter at @zachrodgers.

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