Campaign China
Jun 16, 2017

Cannes Lions: contenders from China

Four creatives in Greater China size up the work on offer at Cannes this year.

Lays was one of 49 brands involved in Tmall's 'All in One' campaign
Lays was one of 49 brands involved in Tmall's 'All in One' campaign

Campaign Asia-Pacific asked four senior regional adlanders for their top picks of the bunch heading to Cannes 2017. While we requested that they focus on work from Greater China, our interviewees were not convinced that much Chinese work will win in 2017.

See if you agree with our pundits' choices in Australia/New ZealandJapan and Southeast Asia


Leong Wai Foong, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO Greater China

Some campaigns made for the domestic China market went viral, but winning a prize at Cannes needs more than just creativity. The case video production is also one of the important factors—and this is the weakness of Chinese agencies—so I think the opportunity to win is not big.

I am still impressed by Tmall's 'All In One' campaign, because convincing so many brands to work together is not easy and makes the execution of the idea quite strong.

I think this year's Grand Prix will be a fight between State Street Global Advisor's Fearless Girl and the strange 'Graham' uncle, because these two are both strong in creativity and execution. Although the two pieces of work debut at almost the same time, 'Meet Graham' has won several advertising awards already, so its momentum will be better. 

Simon Shaw, chief creative officer for Huawei, Hill+Knowlton Strategies 

Without highlighting our own work for Huawei and Honor (who are perhaps the best known consumer brands outside China apart from Lenovo), my prediction is that we will not see any Chinese brands that will be winning big at Cannes for their work. I think in terms of awards it is still the beginning of the journey for Chinese consumer brands. I visited QQ in Shenzhen last time I was in China and the work they are doing is amazing but it is very much for their Chinese audience. Brands like Air China, Xiaomi, Alibaba, BYD and perhaps WeChat still have a way to go to become well known brands in the West. Not really predictions, but here are some thoughts… 

  • ‘My Mutant Brain’ for Kenzo by Framework: Too many campaigns are ‘oh so serious’. Sometimes when we see brands try to find their ‘purpose’ it comes across as unauthentic. Not all communications have to be serious, like a great conversationalist sometimes you need be serious, sometimes it is good to make everyone laugh. It is really great to see campaigns that are just joyful and make you smile inside. This campaign that I loved so much that I shared with my children just because it was fun and beautiful.

  • ‘Meet Graham’ for the Transport Accident Association by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne: Probably not great for the financial success of the award organizers but for many years more and more categories have been added to awards. At the D&AD this year we removed all entries from the social responsibility category as we felt this should be baked into the brand activity and not stand alone. A perfect example of a campaign that blurs the boundaries and becomes difficult to caterorise will be this year’s big winner which I imagine will win (and has already won) in many, many categories.
  • 'We’re Superhumans' for Channel 4: Another kind of joy, joy through celebration. The way that it takes the previous ‘Meet the Superhumans’ concept and reinvents itself is genius. It is a real celebration of the craft of film director.

Paul Chan, executive creative director, Cheil Hong Kong

It’s been an epic year for incredible work that makes us feel inspired and jealous. Having already judged at D&AD and One Show this year, I’ve got a pretty good sense of what should win big at Cannes. But you never know. Here are my pre-festival favourites to go all the way:

  • 'Fearless Girl' for State Street Global Advisors by McCann New York: The little girl on Wall Street will sweep across multiple categories for sure—and could win any number of Golds and Grand Prix Lions. Created for a financial firm to highlight gender diversity, the clever placement of Fearless Girl in front of the Charging Bull gave New York its biggest public art controversy in years. It’s provocative, progressive and perfectly in-tune with culture. It was a massive catalyst for conversation around the world, and its impact is still being felt.
  • 'Meet Graham' for Transport Accident Commission, Australia by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne: Another catalyst for conversation was Graham, the only human designed to survive a car crash. Part interactive sculpture, part educational tool, it’s an incredibly powerful idea that comes completely out of leftfield. It’s courageous, visually striking, and once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And that’s the point. This grotesque superhuman has serious momentum on its side and will win a handful of Grand Prix Lions and Golds.
  • 'We’re the Superhumans' for Channel 4: When Channel 4 introduced their original Grand Prix-winning ‘Superhumans' back in 2012, you’d think they’d be hard stretched to follow it up. But they have. ‘We're the Superhumans’ is epic, joyous and magical in every sense. From the production and editing to the casting and music, it’s a flawless masterpiece. It would be a major upset if it didn’t win Grand Prix in both Film and Film Craft.

Jeffry Gamble, chief creative officer for Greater China, Mcgarrybowen 

  • 'Frozen Book' for Penguin by TBWA Shanghai: This is such a clever and simple use of technology to bring home a really important message. 

  • 'Fearless Girl' for State Street Global Advisors by McCann New York: This is an amazingly creative piece of work. Such a powerful message, in a such a simple execution. It captured the attention of the world and, I am sure it will capture the attention of the juries.
  • 'Baby Love' for Premmie Proud by BWM Dentsu, Sydney: Having a child is the proudest most magical moment of any parents’ life. Nothing should get in the way of them enjoying the moment. This simple idea, took away the stigma of having a premature baby and gave parents a chance to truly celebrate their pride and joy.

  • 'There is always room for more' for World for All by McCann India: This is such a great idea and it is crafted to perfection.

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