Innovate for impact

We are all weighing up the most challenging and urgent brief yet - helping people, the planet and prosperity thrive. And a new sustainability playbook has emerged. Brands are using creativity to re-think each stage of the product lifecycle to implement ethical practices. This creativity has led to clothing that consumes pollution, dissolvable packaging and re-purposed waste. Each small step-change will make a difference, but big results are called for by consumers. The brands making headway are prioritising a commitment to long-term work and revolutionary partnerships to become the impact natives of tomorrow. Everyone should follow suit.

Invest in your forever plans

“Why does the creative industry matter? Because there is tremendous value from creativity as a force for growth, and a force for good”

Marc Pritchard Chief Brand Officer | Procter & Gamble

Speaking at P&G's Cannes Lions 2022 talk 'Creativity as a force for growth'

At Cannes Lions, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, Procter & Gamble, said that marketing will likely face increased scrutiny as the cost of living rises, so markets must focus on applying creativity as a growth strategy.

He explained that “It’s creativity that makes markets bigger, that inspires innovation to attract new people to markets, that advances economic inclusion where more people benefit through higher incomes, increased wealth and more purchasing power”. He then went on to say that when we do our core job of creating value as a force for growth, that gives us the means to be an even broader force for good – in ways that help both society and the planet.

Johan Pihl, Chief Creative Office and Co-Founder at Doconomy, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Lions juror, told brands that they should: “Look at problems they have caused, and fix those. Come across as a brand that’s not reaching for these SDG goals, but integrating them within their ecosystem, not only as a project, but as part of their business model.”

Longevity and scale were clear through lines in many of the winning purpose-led work, with jurors keen to see a commitment to grassroots action. 'The Budweiser Energy Collective', an inhouse initiative by AB InBev New York for Budweiser, committed to brewing using 100% renewables by 2025. It also mobilised bar managers to switch to renewable energy, preventing 810,000 tons of CO2 emissions - the equivalent of removing 675,000 cars from roads. It won a Silver in the Creative Business Transformation Lions and showed that it’s possible to drive both long-term business growth and prioritise a sustainability agenda.

Anne Krogh, Chief Marketing Officer at Ikea Denmark, emphasises the importance of long-term thinking in her talk 'IKEA's talk Instruction Manual on How to Assemble a Global Circularity Movement.'

Making waste work harder

Cannes Lions 2022 winners were awash with innovative materials that involve - but don’t inconvenience - the consumer when they’re ready to dispose of them. One example was 'Plasticoff' for Whirlpool by VMLY&R Mexico City, the world’s first dissolving, non-toxic packaging for Whirlpool products. And another packaging innovation came from VMLY&R’s Mumbai office. The Health and Wellness Lions Grand Prix winner Maxx Flash’s 'The Killer Pack' repurposes the box that its mosquito repellent products come in. The material continues to kill mosquito larvae as it biodegrades as waste outside, cutting the risk of dengue and malaria both inside and out of people’s homes. Health & Wellness Lions jurors and Innovation Lions jurors commended this simple solution for making a huge difference in countries affected by these diseases.

As Innovation Lions juror Andres Pagella, Executive Director, Head of Technology SS LatAm, R/GA, commented: “Maxx Flash partnered with its competitors to alleviate dengue fever, while consumers became active in stopping it spread by throwing away the box.”

Creative solutions are making packaging and food waste work harder. Those in the fishing industry all over the world were rewarded for making the biggest catch of plastic waste to sell to recycling companies. This was awarded a Gold in the Sustainable Development Goals Lions for ‘Plastic Fishing Tournament’ by We Believers Brooklyn for AB InBev / Corona. Already removing 20 tons of plastic from the ocean, Pihl feels “it’s the beginning of something amazing”.







Unusual partnerships

Unorthodox collaborations were common in the winning work. Australian insurance provider Suncorp Group partnered with scientific research agency CSIRO, James Cook University and Room 11 Architects to create a natural disaster proof-house; One House To Save Many, by Leo Burnett Sydney for Suncorp Group, took the Grand Prix in the Innovation Lions. 'Piñatex' by L&C New York, which brought together Dole Sunshine Company with startup Ananas Anam, won the Grand Prix for Creative Business Transformation Lions and did so by recognising each other's strengths and trusting each other to deliver on them.

“Find the superpowers that let you scale”

is the advice on successful collaborations from Dole’s Chief Marketing Officer, Rupen Desai.

Big brands championing smaller trailblazers demonstrated another form of collaboration and creative incubation that will gather momentum in years to come. When the H&M Foundation, via Prime Weber Shandwick Stockholm, identified funding issues as a roadblock for the fashion industry’s sustainable revolution, it found startups pushing boundaries, and sold them back to investors through a clothing collection. “I love the strategic thinking behind 'The Billion Dollar Collection', but the fact a large brand invited people to play the game and to contribute to the success of small startups - that's beautiful,” says Olivier Aumard, Executive Creative Director at BETC Paris and Design Lions Juror. Startups including Algaeing and Fairbrics were even able to close funding rounds and start creating their own futures.





Craft and humour create cut-through

The demand for sustainable goods is rising - three out of five global consumers say that socially responsible or sustainable products made up at least half of their most recent purchases, according to IBM (2022). But with a looming recession, consumers may struggle to justify the premium they often pay for sustainable goods. If you can make a product sustainable but also simple and effective to use, while not compromising on results - it will inspire the behaviour change in consumers.

Lion winners show that replacing messages of hyper-sincerity and despair with lightness and humour cuts through with consumers today; a technique used by Tide’s '#TurnToCold', by Saatchi & Saatchi New York for Procter & Gamble. As well as launching a cold laundry movement, it won a Gold in the Sustainable Development Goals Lions, proving that being earnest isn’t the only way to promote environmentally friendly behaviour change among audiences.

Sustainable products also need to be beautiful. A stylish, attention-grabbing aesthetic came through in campaigns like Silver Design Lions winner Tretorn’s 'Sea Level Re-boot' by Forsman & Bodenfors Gothenburg, and IKEA’s 'CIRKULÄR' by Hjaltelin Stahl Copenhagen. The latter encouraged fans to use Black Friday to swap back their classic furniture and discover pre-loved alternatives.

Combining impact, longevity and high-art visuals -and as its name suggests – a large dose of positivity – 'Hope Reef' for Mars-owned Sheba by AMV BBDO London, aimed to cut through bleak, numbing images of destruction. It achieved this with a thriving human-created coral reef that could be seen from space. As Design Lions juror and Executive Creative Director, BETC, Olivier Aumard says: “The definition of design is something accessible to people. Good design is a bridge to understanding.” As the industry moves through the challenges to come, ethical design should not come at the expense of hope and elegance.







“The two things that we ended up looking at the most was to what extent creativity was used as a tool to affect the change. So not just an NGO idea, but how is creativity used to affect that change? And then did the work spark a long-term change that will continue to grow and carry on, and this piece that we selected did exactly that.”

Colleen DeCourcy Former President and Chief Creative Officer | Wieden+Kennedy Jury President | Glass Lions

In Edelman's talk 'Fluidity is the future of creativity' Harris Reed emphasises the need for beautiful, as well as ethical and responsible design to capture consumer attention today.

Achieving sustainable goals is a long-term plan, but this is a team sport, and collaboration is essential to uncover new solutions. Joining forces with unusual partners who deliver a fresh perspective, different insights and novel skillsets can offer a different lens to tackle an existing problem. The Lion winners serve as a reminder that humour, beautiful craft and good design will help create cut-through with consumers to encourage sustainable purchases and behaviours.