90% Expected. 10% Unexpected: Cannes Lions 2022

My first ever Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity certainly didn’t disappoint. There was sunshine, rosé (of course) but – most importantly – inspiration literally everywhere you turned. 

image of the inside of the Palais in Cannes with video screens showcasing winners

Each afternoon, I found myself walking the same path back to the basement of the Palais; not because it had air conditioning – okay, well, maybe a little bit – but because I loved ambling down the aisles, looking at all the boards showcasing the Cannes Lions winners and finalists. 

If I’m being really honest, a lot of the work there felt a bit expected; it was easy to glance at and keep walking. But there were the occasional gems that would make me stop, look and think, ‘I wish I’d come up with that.’ And those were the campaigns I’m still thinking about, over a month later. 

So instead of rambling on, I’ll let the work speak for itself and show you the unexpected 10%. These are cases that, to me, were best-in-class at Cannes. 

Loud Against Nazis // ‘Give ‘Em Shit’ 

This was my favourite of the whole week by far. It shows you don’t need a big budget to make an impact. Simplicity always wins. And sometimes humour can be the best retaliation, especially when pigeons are involved.  

Dell Technologies & Intel // ‘I Will Always Be Me’ 

This was the first health campaign I’ve seen that was truly human-first all the way, from ideation to creation. Hugely innovative, emotional and the results speak for themselves.   

Women in Games // ‘Gender Swap’ 

An exceptionally clever way to get a message across about the hypersexualization of women in games, by doing it in a place where players already are. 

UNESCO x Polycam // ‘Back up Ukraine’ 

Out of a multitude of cases stemming from the crisis in Ukraine, this was the one that stood out to me. A truly incredible tech solution that puts the power back in the hands of citizens.  

Wilmore Funeral Home // ‘Don’t Get Vaccinated’ 

A punchy campaign that went against the tide. Infiltrated cultural conversations. Ruffled a few feathers along the way. And generated results that truly made a difference in communities.   

Vienna Tourist Board // ‘Vienna Strips on OnlyFans’ 

I LOVE an unlikely pairing. And this is the ultimate showcase of a brave campaign that challenged perceptions and took a stand against censorship on social media in a completely unexpected way.  

I think our industry can learn a lot from the above. These cases show the power that stands behind shifting from self-serving, insular campaigns to ones that are human-first, culture-first and most importantly drive authentic change. 

So, Cannes, thanks for inspiring me (and testing my liver’s limits). But most importantly thanks for cementing my goal to create work that sits in that 10% and hopefully, next year, makes at least one person say, ‘I wish I’d come up with that.’ 

Emily is a Senior Creative at Ketchum London. She has worked in the PR industry for over six years, starting her career in account management before making the jump to the creative side. She is passionate about producing culture-first work inspired and driven by powerful human insights.