Staff Reporters
Jun 6, 2019

2019 Cannes contenders: 'Kupu' by Colenso BBDO

The telco Spark released an app that battles the extinction of indigenous language.

2019 Cannes contenders: 'Kupu' by Colenso BBDO
We asked creative leaders from across the region choose the work they expect (or hope) to see winning at Cannes Lions this year. See all this year's Cannes contenders.

Contender: Kupu: Take a photo, learn a language
Agency: Colenso BBDO
Client: Spark 

Nominated by:

Simon Langley, CCO, Wunderman Thompson Australia:

Taking a photo of a gold lion with Kupu, I was seamlessly informed via the app that kōura is Māori for gold. Which is what this campaign deserves to win at Cannes. Taking the very thing that is partly responsible for languages dying around the world every day, the smart phone, and turning it into a tool that can help is stunningly simple and a real game changer for threatened indigenous languages all around the world.

Bridget Jung, ECD, OPR:

I love the simplicity, ease of use and beautiful craft in this mobile app. “Take a photo, learn a language “. NZ Telco Spark is on a mission to inspire the general public to explore and learn the Te Reo Māori language. I especially like the fact that this will only get better as it’s built with google technology that is constantly learning and iterating. The app will improve its existing translations with the moderated feedback it receives over time. It’s also relevant and ownable for a telco company.

Rachel Catanach, senior partner and president for Greater China at FleishmanHillard:

It’s a clever use of technology that integrates learning Māori into everyday life, making it accessible for people of all ages by harnessing their natural curiosity and desire to photograph. It is a smart, playful way of using the smartphone to break cultural barriers and a bold move for a telecoms company.

Joakim Borgström, CCO, BBH Singapore:

[ rōpū - team ] [ taputapu whero - red carpet ] [ tohu - award ] [ raiona - lion ] [ ataata - smiles ]

David Ponce de Leon, executive creative director, Ogilvy Australia:

Since my first visit to the ‘land of the long white cloud’, I’ve always felt a deep respect and admiration for our kiwi cousins and their connection with their culture. ‘Kupu’ is a simple app that allows you to take a photo of anything with your smartphone and see and hear its name in Māori. The fact they executed this idea for one of NZ biggest telcos and not some obscure NGO, charity or pro-bono client brings the level of difficulty to the max which will make a win at Cannes even more rewarding. It’s time the biggest festival in the world starts recognizing more big thinking for more big clients. 

Rey Tiempo, CCO, VMLY&R Philippines:

A smartphone app that lets you take photos of anything, then lets you see and hear their translation instantly in Maori, an indigenous language. But that’s just the start, because the tech will be open to breathe life into other languages on the verge of being forgotten. Just imagine the endless possibilities, the massive culture shifts and the repercussions to anthropology and history. To make current technology work for the preservation of our most precious treasures -- pop culture can save our culture after all.

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