The Cannes Innovation category is sharply in focus

"Today at Apple": Grand Prix winner
"Today at Apple": Grand Prix winner

The impingement of management consultancies means that the Innovation Lions is a category to watch, says Perry Nightingale, executive creative technologist at Grey London and a juror at this year's Cannes Lions.

The Innovation category at Cannes feels like one of the few that have the potential to transcend what people would consider ‘marketing’. You can feel the eyes of the industry on it for that reason, particularly as we looked at entries from the one part of the industry causing the most debate: management consultants. 

Our jury president, Tor Myhren, the vice-president of marcomms for Apple, began by telling us the industry would be studying our selection to indicate what’s future of our industry, and for that reason this Lion had to be the hardest to win. The casting reflected this - we had venture capitalists, journalists, clients, people in talent and I’m a software engineer really, so it was a pretty eclectic group with a very broad range of experience. Having investors in the mix led to some particularly tough questions to the entrants presenting to us, I would not be surprised if some form of angel investment alongside the Lion found its way into this category one day.  

In that spirit, we awarded a Gold to Dot, the start-up behind the Braille Smart Watch, which was hotly debated because it won a Grand Prix in the category a couple of years ago. However, in that time it’s become a fully functioning business, with new products and ground breaking software for translating into Braille.  For this reason we all strongly felt this category should allow you to recognise and reward that sort of progress.  

The Grand Prix winner itself was an unbelievably simple idea, MyLine, and it showed the power of local knowledge, and of taking old technology and combining it with something new. Even the biggest companies can benefit from good regional insight, simple ideas that allow access to their products. They can come from agencies and they can - and should - be recognised at Cannes. 

It perhaps didn’t have the same cultural impact of past years – ideas that spread out into the world like AlphaGo or ‘The Next Rembrandt’. I’m not arguing it isn’t easier to draw a line between big cultural moments like those and our traditional KPIs of reach and brand affinity, but this one was about improving lives in remote parts of the world and when your client is the Colombian Ministry of Technology surely that’s the point?

Perry Nightingale is the executive creative technologist at Grey London.