The rise of mobile Web, mobile for good and other trends from Cannes Mobile Lions 2013

Scrutiny of the mobile winners at Cannes 2013, both the Mobile Lions and across the other Lions categories, reveals some encouraging trends. The first is the number of winners that use mobile Web in cutting edge ways, where in previous years we might have seen native apps used; the second is the number of winners that are related to good causes. Baring in mind that Cannes Lions is a celebration of all things advertising, where entries are dominated by multinational advertising/marketing/interactive agencies and the awards are judged, mostly, by big agency people, this is surely a good sign.

There were 15 mobile campaigns at Cannes that won a Grand Prix or Gold in the Mobile, Cyber, Design, Direct and Media Lions categories. Six of those use mobile Web; seven are charitable or corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives – a.k.a. mobile for good. Only three fall into neither category. How these winners deployed mobile Web or mobile for good is explored in the descriptions below. For the mobile Web examples we have solicited additional information from the agencies.

This article is broken into five sections:
1) Rise of mobile Web: how Gold and Silver Lions winners use mobile Web.
2) Mobile for good: how Gold and Silver Lions winners deploy mobile for good causes.
3) Mobile Lions: top countries: the countries which won the most Mobile Lions – USA, Japan, Sweden, China, Germany, Brazil, UK, Singapore, France, The Philippines, Tunisia, New Zealand, Belgium and The Netherlands.
4) Mobile Lions: top agencies: the agencies that won the most Mobile Lions – DDB, Ogilvy, JWT, Party, Cheil, Martin Agency, AKQA and Mobiento.
5) Mobile Lions: categories: the number of entries and wins Mobile Lions per category.

Rise of mobile Web

In recent years mobile awards generally have been dominated by native apps. mobiThinking suspects this is partly being driven by some agencies entering awards to help promote underachieving apps, rather than to showcase their mobile excellence, and partly by the perception among agencies that apps might be more likely to impress the judges. While Cannes attracts considerably more app entries than mobile Web, or other technologies (see the winners stats below, a surprising number of the winners (particularly those that picked up multiple Lions) are mobile Web-based, considerably more so than Cannes 2012 and more so than other mobile awards. As becomes clear through the descriptions of the Gold and Silver winners below, Cannes is becoming a showcase for some great use of mobile Web technologies.

Why is mobile Web on the resurgence at Cannes? There are several possible reasons:

  1. Recent advances in mobile Web technologies allow mobile sites/Web apps to do a lot of the cutting-edge techniques that could only previously or could better be done with native apps.
  2. Mobile Web has the edge when integrating with other media channels, not just PC Web, but also with messaging, TV, print, outdoor etc, because it is easier and quicker to direct people to a mobile site, perhaps using a QR code or clicking a link, than to persuade them to go to an app store, download and install an app. (See comments from Ogilvy on Back To Vinyl and TBWA on Window Shopping.
  3. Agencies and their clients have begun to realize that mobile Web can: a) do most of the things they require from mobile; and b) reach a much broader audience, more effectively and affordably than mobile apps.
  4. The judges are more impressed by what can be done with Web technologies or have become more discerning about what apps make the grade. Controversial, possibly, but think about it: yes, there are some excellent examples of both creative and effective native apps among the winners at Cannes – see the examples in mobile for good below – but there are hundreds more “me too” apps that never make it onto the shortlist. There are so many apps entered at Cannes (like all awards) that it is much harder to standout for originality, creative or technical excellence or effectiveness.

Aside: The mobile Lions Grand Prix, Smart TXTBKS, was neither mobile Web nor mobile app, but was based on SMS messaging. It is an awe-inspiring reminder to agencies that ideas lead mobile initiatives, not technology – see Mobile for good, below.

Gold Lions winners that use mobile Web

• Clouds over Cuba (The Martin Agency, USA) was created for the JFK Presidential Library & Museum. It centered on a multimedia documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis, viewers could sync their mobile device with the documentary, via the mobile site, to receive extra materials as the documentary unfolds. Clouds over Cuba was the most highly decorated campaign to use mobile with Two Gold and one Silver Cyber Lion; a Gold, Silver and Bronze Mobile Lions; and a Silver Design Lion.
• See the video case study.

• Back To Vinyl – The Office Turntable (Ogilvyaction, Germany) was designed to impress agency creative directors with the latest release from Boris Dlugosch. Rather than sending a CD promo, Kontor Records sent a vinyl record. The recipient could play the disc using the turntable printed on the envelope, by activating the QR code on envelope with a mobile phone. Back To Vinyl won a Gold Media Lion and a Gold Design Lion.
Jens Steffen, technical director, OgilvyOne Frankfurt, explained (in an email) how it works: “It was really important for us to reduce entry barriers by not downloading a native app, so we decided to go for a HTML solution. The recipient scans the QR code with a scanner app which redirects to the browser, opening the stored URL. The audio support is done using HTML5 Audio and the turntable is animated frame by frame within the HTML5 Canvas drawing loop. The player’s pick-up arm interaction and motion is done with paperjs Paper.js. The pick-up arm works like a scrubber. If you pick it up, the music stops and when you release it on a different track of the vinyl disc, it starts playing the audio from the [exact] position of the arm. We adjusted the break-grooves on the turntable/vinyl background to exactly fit the silence between the audio tracks and gave the arm a slight wiggle during the playback. As you can see, beside latest technology, it is more about the love we put into execution to give you the same control/feeling as you would have with real vinyl.”
• See the video case study.

• World Wide Maze (Party, Japan) is a dual-device game designed to showcase what you can do with mobile and PC Web and Google’s Chrome Web browser (the client). The game used modern Web technologies, called WebSocket and WebGL, to enable players to turn any Website on their PC into a maze that they could navigate around using their smartphone as a controller. World Wide Maze won a Gold Mobile Lion and two Silvers.
• See the video case study.

• Free The Forced! (Cheil, Germany) drew attention to effort of Germany’s United Nations Association to combat forced marriage. On a bridge full of “love padlocks” in Cologne, 3,500 blue combination padlocks were locked spelling out “Free The Forced”. Each lock had a QR code which, when scanned with a mobile, took donors to a mobile site where they could donate and then receive a code to unlock the lock and free a woman. In three days almost all locks were opened and donations went up by 279 percent. Free The Forced! received a Gold and Silver Mobile Lion and a Bronze Media Lion.
• See the video case study.

• Window Shopping (TBWA, Finland) created a interactive shop window for the Adidas store in Helsinki, which passers-by could interact with and purchase items from the display using their mobiles. This means the store remains open for business when the physical store is closed. In the submission the agency said: “We had incredibly short time to establish that connection. Asking people to download a custom app was out of the question and QR offered a too unreliable experience. In the end we built everything in HTML5: the window interface and mobile. Through a by-directional connection via a simple URL, the users paired their mobiles with a one-time PIN. From then on, the user simply drags products into a shopping bag on the window, to see them instantly appear on their device. The mobile site was plugged straight into the Adidas e-commerce system. If shoppers shared their list of products, it was a responsive design, looking great on a laptop or tablet too.” Window Shopping won a Gold Cyber Lion, a Bronze Mobile Lion and two Bronze Media Lions.
• See the video case study.

• Scrabble WiFi (Ogilvy, France) promoted Mattel’s Scrabble board game by delivering free public WiFi via a van in popular parts of Paris (e.g. parks, museums). The public could win free Web access by making a word from a random collection of letters – the amount of time online was determined by how much the word scored in a game of scrabble. The campaign proved so successful that Mattel wants to make Scrabble WiFi a permanent feature at airports and other locations. Scrabble WiFi picked up a Gold and Silver Mobile Lion.
Chris Garbutt, chief creative officer Ogilvy France, explained (in an email) how it works: “For the Scrabble project we use what we call a “captive portal” for authentication purposes. A router provides both a mobile Web app and an authentication server. When a phone comes in range of the wireless network, the user is prompted to connect to the open network. Upon connection, the router blocks all connection and redirects all traffic to our Web app. According to the word found by the user, the authentication server grants access for a variable duration. When this time is exceeded, all web traffic is again suspended and redirected to the Web app.”
• See the video case study.

Silver Lions that use mobile Web:

• Digital Public Library (Mccann Erickson, Romania) To help promote the use of the mobile Web, Vodafone established a digital library. Billboard posters in train stations, malls and other popular places, these all mimicked the shelves in a traditional library, displaying books that were available for free download. Each book had a QR code that hyperlinked to the Vodafone store, where the book could be downloaded. The store rapidly became number one, with three times more downloaded books than the biggest e-books retailer in Romania.
• See the video case study.

• Mobile Orchestra (AKQA/USA) enables a group of people to recreate an orchestra playing “Carol of the Bells” (with one device playing each part in sync) by visiting the Mobile Orchestra mobile site with each device.
James De Jesus, director of user experience development, AKQA explained (in an email): “Syncing the playback for each device was the largest challenge to overcome given the variability of network speeds and mobile device functionality. The availability of WebSockets on the majority of the target devices enabled us to have real-time, low-latency coordination with the connected devices. The different components involved were Backbone.Marionette for the frontend Web app, Express/Node.js for the backend app, a third-party WebSocket messaging service, and a Content delivery networkfor high-speed video delivery.
“The user who creates a new orchestra becomes the conductor and in the background creates a session in the Node app and messaging service. The other participants initiate socket connections with the backend by using the session id created by the conductor and are assigned an instrument in a particular order to ensure a good sounding ensemble in cases where only a few of the instruments are used. Because of the limitations with some of the mobile devices, all users have to trigger the initial video playback, which enables the JavaScript in each client to take control of the video and also begins the buffering of the video. The client-side JavaScript pauses the video and lets the backend know that it is ready. As this is happening, the server calculates the communication latency for each device. When the conductor begins, the server pushes the command to play to each device, starting from a specific point in the video and adjusting the start time using the latency calculation.”
• See the video case study.

• A New Breed of Website for a New Breed of Agency (Nimbletank, UK) A new mobile agency in the UK demonstrated its skill and the power of HTML5 with an inspirational, best-practice mobile site. Asked what sort of impact the site/award had had on business, Chris Minas, managing director, Nimbletank said (in an email): “The benefits of being an award-winning agency range from being a great moral booster for the agency itself, industry recognition for the work of the agency as well as the vision and, of course, the promotion of the agency in the wider industry, which drives new clients to knock on our door. So all round, there’s a hugely positive impact from winning awards such as the Cannes Lions.”
• See the video case study.

• Digital Earth Hour (BBH, China) blacked out over 50 million PC, tablet, and mobile screens for one hour to draw attention to WWF’s Earth Hour initiative. On participating PC and mobile portals (covering about 10 percent of China’s netizens) visitors were greeted by a black screen and a message: “Light only what you need” – only the area where the cursor or finger pointed was illuminated by a spotlight. They could also click through to the WWF site to learn more, where Web visits rose 630 percent.
• See the video case study.

• The World’s First Interactive Obituary (Ganem Group, Mexico) placed QR codes in newspaper death notifications, which hyperlinked the reader to a video memorial of the departed’s life.
Rodrigo De Leon, creative director, Ganem Group explained (in an email): “When you scan the QR code, you are sent immediately to a short video (hosted on YouTube) of the deceased person. This video is made from photos and phrases provided by a relative or friend. You don’t need any special app. All you need is a smartphone or tablet with a QR code scanning app.”
• See the video case study.

When you list the Gold and Silver winners of Cannes Lions like this, it is remarkable how many use mobile Web. They didn’t win because they used mobile Web, they won because they were great, well-executed ideas; it is clear what they wanted to achieve and they used the most appropriate technologies for the job. Hopefully the publicity that Lions bring to these case studies will encourage more agencies to consider of their clients’ brief: could this or should this be done with mobile Web?

Mobile for good

Nothing warms the cockles of mobiThinking’s heart more than a brilliant initiative to make lives of less-privileged people better using mobile – these might be m-health or m-learning and may be driven by charities or companies as part of CSR initiatives. At Cannes, perhaps surprisingly, given its Advertising heritage, mobile-for-good initiatives seem to pick up more than their fair share of rewards. Let’s hope that the publicity for such campaigns will encourage more philanthropy among those companies that are profiting most from mobile’s boom time.

Grand Prix Lions that use mobile for good:

• Smart TXTBKS (DDB DM9jaymesyfu, The Philippines) won the Mobile Lions Grand Prix. It is a CSR initiative by mobile operator Smart Communications to help children by putting school textbooks onto SIM Cards. In a six month project the textbooks were broken down into 160 character SMS messages. SMS was chosen to ensure that TXTBKS would work on any phone however old. It is an awe-inspiring reminder to agencies that ideas lead mobile initiatives, not technology – read more in this blog post.
• See the video case study.

• The Selfscan Report (Serviceplan, Germany) won the Grand Prix and a Silver in the Design Lions. Rather than printing a forest of sustainability reports Auchan (European hypermarket chain), put a barcode on till receipts so the customer could scan and read the report using an Auchan scan app. Paper saved per report: 99 percent. People reached in one week: 1.5 million more than the previous year.
• See the video case study.

Gold Lions that deploy mobile for good:

• Third Eye (DDB Group, Singapore)
In a corporate-social responsibility (CSR) initiative, Singapore operator StarHub Mobile partnered with the Society of Visually Handicapped to produce Third Eye. Using the app a visually impaired person can ask a volunteer to identify images in the world around them captured using their phone’s camera. Third Eye won two Gold Direct Lions, a Silver Mobile Lion and a Bronze Promo Lion.
• See the video case study.

• Missing Children (JWT/China) In China, over 20,000 children go missing each year. Baobeihuijia.Com – ‘Baby Back Home’ Website publishes profiles of missing kids in China. A new mobile app enables volunteers to snap a photo of a kid they suspect could be lost/kidnapped and the app uses image recognition to check the image against the database of missing kids. In the first week, this initiative helped reunite two children with their parents. Missing kids picked up one Gold and two Silver Mobile Lions.
• See the video case study.

• Free The Forced! (Cheil, Germany) – see description above in Lions that use mobile Web.

• Reborn apps (Duval Guillaume Modem, Belgium) is an initiative that persuades publishers of apps for one-off events, e.g. for a music festival, to donate their app the Reborn Organ Donation Foundation. So when the event is over the event app becomes a Reborn app that allows people to learn about organ donation and sign up to become a donor. The reborn app won a Gold Mobile Lion and a Bronze Direct Lion.
• See the video case study.

• Old Phones Give New Life (Ogilvy & Mather, Singapore) is a CSR initiative by mobile operator Singtel that encouraged consumers to donate their old smartphone when they upgraded. This led to 1,000 handsets being refurbished, loaded with apps designed for senior citizens, and donated to old people in need. Project Silverline received a Gold Mobile Lion.
• See the video case study.

Silver Lions that deploy mobile for good:

• Digital Public Library (Mccann Erickson, Romania) – see description above in Lions that use mobile Web.

• Natalia Project (RBK Communication, Sweden), created for the NGO Civil Right Defenders, provides human rights activists with an alarm bracelet, which can be activated when under threat. This notifies local organizations and people who are signed up to receive alerts via social media.
• See the video case study.

• Secret Fishing Spots (DDB, New Zealand) is a mobile app by life-jacket manufacturer Hutchwilco that allows fishermen to log their secret fishing locations. Thus, if they are worried, family members can login to the Website and request that the locations are sent to the coastguard.
• See the video case study.

• Digital Earth Hour (BBH, China) – see description above in Lions that use mobile Web.

• Most Valuable Check-In (Grey Group, Canada) enables the Missing Children Society of Canada to alert members of the Foursquare social network (which works via mobile app or mobile Web) when children go missing in their immediate location. This initiative helped to find six children in the first five months.
• See the video case study.

• Crash (Y&R/Brazil), an interactive ad, by Peugeot, ran in a mobile version of a popular motoring magazine. It encouraged users to enter their name to play a driving game. As they typed, the car crashed revealing the message: “Don’t text and drive.”
• See the video case study..

• WWF Together (AKQA, USA) is an iPad app that aims to educate people to the plight of endangered species using interactive picture-led stories.

Mobile Lions: top countries

• There were 1,061 Mobile Lions entries, slightly up on 2012, the inaugural year. A whopping 208 (almost one-fifth) came from the USA, followed by Brazil (100), Japan (89), UK (76), Germany (71), Sweden (47) and Australia (45). All of these picked up Mobile Lions with the exception of Australia, where agencies must be wondering what is wrong with their submissions.
• The USA topped the medals table for the second year, with one Gold Mobile Lion, five Silvers and five Bronzes; followed by Japan, Sweden, China, Germany, Brazil, UK, Singapore, France, The Philippines, Tunisia, New Zealand, Belgium and Netherlands. This was the first year that China, Singapore, France, Philippines, Tunisia, New Zealand, Belgium picked up mobile Lions.
• Not wanting to take anything away from the winners, but US jubilation should be tempered by knowledge that 190 of the 208 US entries failed to make it onto the shortlist. Compare that to the Philippines, which entered four times and picked up the Mobile Lion Grand Prix, and Tunisia with four entries picking up two Silver Mobile Lions. Which impresses you more?
• The agencies are ranked according to their aggregate score in the Mobile Lions, mobiThinking calculated this by awarding 1 point to a Bronze Lion, 2 points to a silver, 3 points to a Gold, 4 points to a Grand Prix.*

The Mobile Lions 2013 winners and shortlisted entries (which didn’t win) by country of origination
  Entries Grand
Shortlist Aggregate
Most decorated
Mobile Lions
USA 208   1 5 5 7 18 Clouds over Cuba
WWF Together
Japan 89   1 3 3 3 12 World Wide Maze
Penguin Navi
Sweden 47   1 2 1 3 8 ScoreCleaner
Natalia Project
China 25   1 2 1 2 8 Missing Children
Germany 71   1 1 2 6 7 Free The Forced!
Brazil 100     1 5 5 7 Crash
UK 76   1 1 1 3 6 Get Cash
Singapore 25   1 1   2 5 Old Phones New Life
Third Eye
France 29   1 1   1 5 Scrabble WIFI
The Philippines 4 1         4 TXTBKS
Tunisia 4     2   1 4 Mobilizing The 12th Man
New Zealand 12     1 2 1 4 Secret Fishing Spots
Belgium 18   1       3 Second-life/Reborn apps
Netherlands 19     1 1 1 3 Gadget Show World Tour
Other countries 363     5 3 7    
Total 1061 1 9 26 24 42    
Sources: Cannes Lions Arithmetic by: mobiThinking*

Mobile Lions: top agencies

• This year’s agencies of mobile note are DDB – which picked up the Mobile Grand Prix, three Silvers and two bronzes – and Ogilvy – which won two Gold Lions, three Silvers and a Bronze. JWT, Party, Cheil, Martin Agency, AKQA and Mobiento also scored highly.
• Closer scrutiny shows that some of the multinational agencies adopt a scatter-gun approach to award entries. Ogilvy made 77 Mobile Lions entries, DDB made 68, BBDO made 44 and R/GA made 30 across their global networks. That doesn’t diminish the brilliance of the winning case studies, but perhaps tempers the performance of the agency as a whole – particularly in the case of BBDO and R/GA, which only took home a Silver Mobile Lion a piece.
• Contrast the performance of these large agencies with: Swedish mobile agency Mobiento, which picked up a Silver and a Bronze Lion from four entries (Mobiento also did well at Cannes last year); Belgian creative agency Duval Guillaume Modem, which won a Gold Lion from one entry; and Nimbletank, a new British mobile agency, which took home Silver from one entry. You have to applaud a hit rate of 1:2 (Mobiento) and 1:1 (Nimbletank, Duval Guillaume Modem), when the large multinationals are only scoring 1:10 (DDB), 1:13 (Ogilvy), 1:30 (R/GA), 1:44 (BBDO). See the table below for the performance for the top agencies.
• The agencies are ranked according to their aggregate score in the Mobile Lions, mobiThinking calculated this by awarding 1 point to a Bronze Lion, 2 points to a silver, 3 points to a Gold, 4 points to a Grand Prix.*

The Mobile Lions 2013 winners and shortlisted entries (which didn’t win) by entering agency
  Entries Grand
Shortlist Aggregate
Most decorated
Mobile Lions
Ogilvy 77   2 3 1 6 13 Scrabble WiFi
Old Phones New Life
DDB 68 1   3 2 4 12 TXTBKS
Third Eye
JWT 22   1 2   1 7 Missing Children
Party 10   1 2     7 World Wide Maze
Martin Agency 10   1 1 1   6 Clouds over Cuba
Cheil 22   1 1 1   6 Free The Forced!
AKQA 15     2 4 2 6 WWF Together
Mobile Orchestra
Mobiento 4   1 1     5 ScoreCleaner
Duval Guillaume Modem 1   1       3 Reborn apps
Sapientnitro 11   1       3 Get Cash
Y&R 19     1 1   3 Crash
Hakuhodo 24     1 1   3 Penguin Navi
Ganem Group 2     1   1 2 Interactive Obituary
Mirada 5     1   1 2 Mirrorworld
BBDO 44     1   1 2 Drive Awake
Grey Group 3     1     2 Most Valuable Check-In.
Nimbletank 1     1     2 Nimbletank
RBK Communication 1     1     2 Natalia Project
XS2 2     1     2 Gadget Show Tour
Anorak 3     1     2 Kaizervirus
R/GA 30     1     2 Mastercard Miyamo
Sources: Cannes Lions Arithmetic by: mobiThinking*

Mobile Lions: categories

The most popular Mobile Lions categories at Cannes 2013 were Creative use of technology, Mobile applications and Craft. These categories also generated the most awards. Note: mobile apps and Web sites will (also) appear in other categories e.g. Creative use of technology and Craft. Mobile campaigns will also appear in Cyber Lions, Media Lions, Direct Lions and others.

The Mobile Lions 2013 winners and entries by category
  Entries Grand Prix Gold Lions Silver Lions Bronze Lions Shortlist
A. Creative use of technology 247   1 11 4 11
B. Mobile Websites and Web apps 80   1 2 2 2
C. Mobile applications 221   5 3 6 10
D. Tablets and other devices 74     1 4 2
E. Mobile games 72   1 1 1 2
F. Rich media advertising for mobile devices 56     1 2 1
G. Messaging campaigns 30 1     1  
H. Best integrated campaign led by Mobile 70     4 1 1
I. Craft 204   1 3 3 11
Total 1054 1 9 26 24 41
Sources: Cannes Lions Arithmetic by: mobiThinking**

Disclaimer: mobiThinking was one of the advisers to the Cannes organizers on matters such as categories.
* Disclaimer: to the best of mobiThinking’s knowledge all these figures are accurate. If our arithmetic has let us down, please blame mobiThinking, rather than Cannes Lions.

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