Three New Trends to Watch Out For

By Susie Walker
Head of Awards, LIONS
Over the past year, we’ve been investigating trends in the work that wins – and we’ve made some pretty interesting discoveries. In fact, off the back of this research, the Awards team have launched a new Lion (Creative Business Transformation) and evolved existing Lions to reflect the evolution of branded communications.
At LIONS Live, many of the trends we’d spotted were discussed and reiterated by our creative community. Here are three of our picks on new creative trends to watch.

A focus on brand “Super Fans”

Influencers have long been a useful way for brands to better connect with audiences, (in 2019 45% of work entered into the PR Lions used celebrities, influencers or key opinion leaders – up from 20% in 2017) but they can also unlock access to brand "super fans", who also happen to be your most accessible and engaged new focus group.

As Gabriela McCoy from Bacardi noted in her episode of 'Future Gazers', Bacardi have switched up stark, unnatural focus groups for one-to-one engaged conversations with brand super fans who have gone on to promote (or even feature in) the finished creative campaigns. As a result, the recent “Roommates” spot featuring three real, New York based roommates and super fans saw strong engagement on YouTube due to the storytelling nature of the piece.

The same is true for Chipotle. The brand saw thousands of fans on TikTok already advocating for the brand, so set up the “Chipotle Sponsor Me” campaign to channel that super fan energy into further reach. Addressing these shifts in consumer habits and the power of the super fan, the 2021 PR Lion now includes a reimagined Social Engagement & Influencer Marketing section.

Hacking production techniques

Lockdowns forced brands, agencies and production houses to hack their production techniques to execute creative ideas without the usual resources. This has coincided with the growth of platforms such as TikTok where home-grown, low-fidelity and raw, authentic content is now hugely popular. At LIONS Live, brands discussed how they are repurposing material, or trialing new productions techniques, to connect with consumers’ lives and popular culture today. Droga5 and The New York Times explained how their latest work “Life Needs Truth” is a visual poem built from existing New York Times headlines and imagery. Chipotle, meanwhile, used voice-overs (including ASMR techniques) as a hack instead of music to overcome licensing issues and provided something unexpected to their consumers. We look forward to seeing how these new production tactics are debated in the jury room in 2021 with two new sections (Production and Post-production) added to the Film Craft Lion.

A creative (contactless) injection into eCommerce

With eCommerce purchases at a record high, we see a trend towards businesses using the moment of transaction for additional brand engagement. "Pay Per Beer" for ABInBev from AFRICA Sao Paulo, where consumers could order beer on demand through a sports TV platform, was a Lion-winning example from 2019. Of course, creativity with contactless commerce is front-of-mind during the pandemic and as FCB’s Mauro Arruda explained in his episode of 'Future Gazers' on healthcare creativity, going the extra mile at the moment of transaction will be a key way to drive trust around brand safety. The Creative eCommerce Lion, launched in 2018, recognises new ways to negotiate price, value and distribution using creativity. With so much eCommerce acceleration during the pandemic, we’re intrigued to see how the work will evolve in 2021. We’re always looking out for the new trends in creativity, and ensure we evolve the Lions and their categories in line with these industry changes. You can find out more information on each of the individual Lions here.

And don’t forget, the Cannes Lions Awards are now open.

Next June, our juries will award Lions for both 2020 and 2021 – for more information on how to enter and the eligibility criteria, please go to