It’s time for an industry tech-check

A new world of technology is creeping into view, forcing creatives to adopt a different mindset and

meet virtual consumers where they are. But not everyone has - or wants - a VR headset so

keep people, not the tech, front of mind when designing solutions.

More-social media

A Web3 community

The metaverse and other emerging Web3 platforms aren’t simply a newer iteration of social. As Paris Hilton put it: “Web2 was about audience, Web3 is about community.” Brands entering these spaces should be joining the conversation, and adding value to it, or building a world where a new community can grow. Remember, says Pelle Sjoenell, Chief Creative Officer at video game company Activision Blizzard: “It’s not a virtual memory just because it happens in a virtual world.” People are living a life in these virtual worlds, not just scrolling through a feed.

“Usually when a new media appears, people tend to think about the new media in the paradigm of the previous media,” says Fernando Machado, Chief Marketing Officer at Activision Blizzard. But interrupting in the virtual world is not going to win you any fans.

HIDDEN SPOTS | THE KRAFT HEINZ CO.

GUT SÃO PAULO | 2022

Winning work this year demonstrated this community mindset. 'Hidden Spots' by Gut São Paulo for The Kraft Heinz Co won Silver in the Direct and Media Lions by solving a problem within the gaming community. It allowed gamers to find hidden spots within gaming worlds to hide and eat a burger, sponsored by Heinz, without pausing their game. Skittles and DDB Chicago used Twitch to conduct a conversation with customers in its double-Gold-winning work 'Apologize the Rainbow'.

APOLOGIZE THE RAINBOW | SKITTLES

DDB CHICAGO | 2022

Using virtual worlds to highlight real-world issues

We are also seeing more work use virtual worlds to provide a reminder of real-world issues.

LOS SANTOS +3 DEGREES | GREENPEACE

VMLY&R SÃO PAULO | 2022

‘Los Santos +3 degrees’ by VMLY&R São Paulo for Greenpeace turned GTA environments into settings that reflect what life would be like if the world was 3 degrees hotter.

BACKUP UKRAINE | POLYCAM x UNESCO

VIRTUE WORLDWIDE NEW YORK | 2022

The second-most decorated piece of winning work this year was 'Backup Ukraine’ by Virtue Worldwide New York for Polycam x UNESCO. This piece sheds light on the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian people were given a tool on their mobile phones to scan important monuments and cultural treasures in case they got destroyed so they can be rebuilt in the metaverse.

Level up inclusivity

Using technology in a clever way isn’t worth much if there are still people who can’t access it. Brands should still invest in technology-driven work, but more thought needs to be given to the roll-out – and who’s going to benefit from it.

“Game-changing ideas should be accessible."

Gabriel Mattar Chief Creative Officer

Innocean and Health and Wellness Lions juror

Hip-Hop Public Health’s Grand Prix winning ‘Lil Sugar - Master of Disguise’ by Area 23 New York, for example, was rooted in technology, but a physical book was incorporated so that children from low-income families could benefit. Double Grand Prix winner ‘Data Tienda’, by DDB Mexico City for WeCapital, chose a technology that was ubiquitous among those it was trying to connect with; and Shah Rukh Khan-My-Ad’, by Ogilvy Mumbai for Cadbury Creations, used complex tech to give tiny corner shops access to a big time spokesperson.

“If the tech gives a barrier for the people to start something, then it’s not really a game-changing idea.” Accessibility also means adapting your technology so it can work well for everyone, as Google did with Grand Prix winning 'Real Tone - Product Innovation & Global Campaign' by Google Mountain View.

The ultimate demonstration of this came from Naoki Tanaka, Creative Director, Dentsu Lab Tokyo, who shared his experience of cutting-edge experimental projects that featured in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. His ‘All Players Welcome’ session’s finale featured two ALS artists MASA and PONE, who use eye-tracking software to write, read, communicate, compose – and delivered a live performance for the audience. The session evidenced how creatives can use technology to reframe disability as an ability, and change perceptions.

LIL SUGAR - MASTER OF DISGUISE | HIP-HOP LUBLIC HEALTH

AREA23 NEW YORK | 2022

DATA TIENDA | WE CAPITAL

DDB MEXICO CITY | 2022

SHAK RUKH KHAN-MY-AD | CADBURYS CREATIONS

OGILVY MUMBAI | 2022

REAL TONE | GOOGLE

GOOGLE MOUNTAIN VIEW | 2022

Second life

Ready Player Me

“The biggest way that people communicate in the world is by what they buy,” says Gary Vaynerchuk - an aspect that he feels is often overlooked - and that’s no different when it comes to NFTs.

When the metaverse goes mainstream, our virtual wallets – and whatever is in them – is how we’ll communicate who we are to these virtual worlds. We have already seen the lines between how we are able to choose to portray ourselves in reality versus in the metaverse blur, in 'The First Meta Sneaker' by Berlin Cameron New York for Under Armour.

THE FIRST META SNEAKER | UNDER ARMOUR

BERLIN CAMERON NEW YORK | 2022

“If you think about how I - or most of us - express ourselves in our public-facing persona these days, it is our social media profiles. In Web3, this will become our connected wallet and the NFTs we have in our wallet will be important not only for what sort of utility they provide, but what they say about us.”

Eric Jacobs Chief Innovation Officer | VaynerMedia

Speaking at the VaynerMedia Cannes Lions 2022 talk 'Discovering NFTs - Don't get Left Behind'

'Ozworld’ by Jam3 Toronto for adidas is ahead of the curve with this. It is reconnecting with Gen Z by building the world's first personality-based, AI-generated avatar creation platform. This new system has opened up options for self-expression in the metaverse. And this public-facing persona will give brands insight into who their current and potential fans are and provide a way to connect.

OZWORLD | ADIDAS

JAM3 TORONTO | 2022

The visual age

While the Metaverse is just starting to make its way in the world, AR is finally hitting the big time. As XR Creator Don Allen Stevenson said at Cannes Lions, there is great power behind the visual because innovative AR solutions can help break down barriers between people and brands. He gave the example of teaching kids who might not want to learn about healthy eating a chance to be taught by a funny and human-like AR banana.

Snap Inc explained that for the past decade, its been working to drive consumer behaviour to get them ready for mass adoption of AR, and number one on the list was to encourage people to use the camera in place of the keyboard (and many Zoomers do now check the weather forecast using a Snapchat filter).

“What’s so powerful about the cameras is that you’re centring an entire strategy around a person, and you’re giving them the tools to create, versus giving them content to consume”

Carolina Arguelles Navas Global AR Product Strategy & Product Marketing Lead Snap Inc Speaking at Snap & Gucci's Cannes Lions 2022 talk 'Leveraging Machine Learning and Augmented Reality for Experiential Digital Commerce'.

Google is also making headway in the AR world with its ever-evolving multi-search, which will soon allow you to search while scanning the world around you. As the camera becomes the new keyboard, brands will be able to uncover new ways to connect with consumers where they are – and that includes launching a music video on a potato chip they’re about to eat, as Goodby Silverstein & Partners San Francisco did for Doritos/Cheetos with its Entertainment Lions Bronze winning, ‘Snackable Screens/Flamin’ Hottie’.

SNACKABLE SCREENS / FLAMIN' HOTTIE | DORITOS / CHEETOS

GOODBY SILVERSTEIN & PARTNERS SAN FRANCISCO | 2022

Pandu Nayak, Google Fellow, explains the development of scene exploration technology for search and real-time shelf shopping in Google's Cannes Lions 2022 talk 'Reimagining Search - Any Way, Anywhere'

Technology and data have the capacity to solve many of the issues outlined in this report and dominating the industry agenda - making the world more inclusive, attracting talent, proving creative effectiveness or designing transformative solutions. The key to unlocking its potential is to make it human-focused, rather than tech-first. It must build on – rather than replace – human experience.