The Best Ads of 2016: Cannes Lions Ad Festival Roundup

Posted Feb. 12, 2017

On January 31st we had a Boldly night out, attending the Vancouver screening of the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. It's a chance for us in the commercial production industry to see and hear from the world's top creative talent in advertising. As locals in Vancouver, it's often too easy to blind ourselves to the happenings around the globe, so this is a great opportunity for us to reflect and get inspired. There were laughs, tears, and applause the whole way through. There was some stiff competition on the screen that night, but after much discussion & deliberation, here are our selections for the best of the bunch:

*Spoiler alert — If you haven’t seen these yet, we recommend you follow the links to watch the spots before reading our analysis.

Kristoff’s Picks:

1.) Home For Christmas – Edeka


This spot hits home because it’s extremely relatable. Strong performances, a moving score, and excellent storytelling drive this piece. It has certainly inspired me to have a big dinner with my extended family. Edeka is Germany’s largest supermarket group – what a beautiful, subtle way to advertise their supermarkets.

2.) How To Get Perfect Red Lips – Make Love Not Scars


This powerful ad comfortably positions us in a simple tutorial and then abruptly pulls the carpet from under us to reveal the real message. This PSA raises awareness and drives change through the strength of brave survivors. Simply brilliant.

3.) Deng Adut – University of Western Sydney


In today’s political climate this one rings more true than ever. Real storytelling is in; yell-in-your-face-about-a-product is out. The music is the stirring cherry on top of this inspirational call for inclusiveness, and education for all.

Shelby’s Picks:

1.) Dad’s Share The Load - Aeriel


This one got me real good. All three times I watched it. A heartwarming short piece that touches on the unfortunate fact that stereotypes are often senselessly passed from generation to generation – and how that affects all of us, especially women.

Everything from the acting, to the moments captured, to the simplicity of the final question the spot poses “Why is laundry only a mother’s job?” works together as a captivating piece with a real call to action. Unlike many spots out there, the call to action isn’t simply “buy our laundry detergent” (although that’s obviously still a goal, I mean come on it’s advertising) – but rather, “hey, let’s just think about this for a second. Why is laundry deemed a mother’s job? How can we change the general mindset of this notion? What can I do in my home to actively alter the stereotype?"

2.) Dear Daddy - CARE


Okay, let’s talk about this one for a minute. It got quite a bit of positive response from viewers online…but it also got its fair share of backlash. Many viewers were upset with the fact that this spot allegedly makes boys sound bad and girls seem innocent – a common response being “Where’s ‘Dear Mommy’ to show how men are often treated unfairly by women?”

In my opinion, I think these viewers missed the message. The spot does not intentionally scream “hey! all guys suck!” – but rather it works to shine the light on the many issues faced by girls as they grow into their sexuality. Most importantly, it emphasizes that it’s not always about what a boy does to a girl but more commonly about what a boy says about a girl. Growing up I can remember overhearing my guy friends as they participated in locker room talk with the other guys – and even though they were deemed 'nice' guys in the eyes of society, what they said was often not nice. And this is common. It’s a combination of peer pressure and the unwillingness to stand up and say “hey, that’s not cool buddy.”

As a society, we still have a long way to go when it comes to these issues, so HELL YES this spot communicates an important message! And it is undeniably told in an extremely powerful way. Thank you CARE.

3.) The Boys PART 1: IMPACT – Bonds Australia


I don’t think this “roll out of your chair laughing spot” needs much of an explanation. It’s just…ballsy.

Sebastien’s Picks:

1.) Ambuja Khali – Ambuja Cement


Why isn’t this a Super Bowl ad? It’s got all the hallmarks of a multi-million dollar endeavor by a leading American corporation; but it’s made in India. In fact, it’s a genius ad, and it’s not at all surprising. We often have a poorer image of eastern countries in the west; partly because of how it’s reflected in the news and in motion pictures. Thankfully, here again is another incredible example of the versatility and talent in every corner of the globe. A major US sports star would be right at home in the starring role for this spot; but instead it elevates the recognition of a major professional Indian power lifter known as “The Great Khali”, and it also opens the door for many international filmmakers and creatives when they otherwise might not get the global exposure simply because of their geographical location. This spot is telling.

Check out the behind-the-scenes.

2.) Tiny Dancer – Premier Home Insurance


There’s something nostalgic about this ad. Maybe it’s the song, maybe it’s the house, but if we really dig into it, I think it’s the sense of security and comfort you get when you’re doing your own thing. This girl is dancing with not a care in the world, and her home is moving and shaking, as much any normal household should. That being said, with the moving and shaking, a lot of what’s in the home is borderline panicking over the thought of being trampled to bits.

This ad shines because it’s entertaining but beyond the surface, it tells you exactly what the company is about – insuring your home from major damage. And even though life’s unpredictable events sometimes crowd your place of rest and relaxation, that’s absolutely no reason to live your life in fear. This spot is beautiful.

3.) Justino – Christmas Lottery


Perhaps unsurprisingly, Leo Burnett takes the cake (they had an incredibly awarded 2016), but this piece is no wonder why! Much less than a traditional advertisement, this is clear-cut branded content. It’s a short film bolstering kindness and holiday spirit. It has all the feels. It’s supremely executed by one of the leading animation studios in Europe (Passion Animation Studios), with nuanced colours, music, and palpable emotion that leap off the screen.

I dug around for some behind-the-scenes featurettes and came across a wonderful video explaining the attention to detail the art team had with respect to this world they created. Enjoy my top pick from the Cannes Lions awards, as this spot is perfect.

Check out the behind-the-scenes.

The Wrap Up

And, that's a wrap on our top picks! Of course this is all subjective, so we'd love to hear from you. What are your top 3 picks? Leave us a comment and let's have a chat.


The Boldly Team.

Get in touch with Kristoff Duxbury