My 5(+1) Favourite Cannes Lions Winners of 2019 

Two weeks ago, the French Riviera was flooded again by the brainwaves and fresh foams of the creative industry. Like every year, creatives, marketing and brand managers from all corners of the world, washed ashore on the hot sand of the small town in the south of France. The reason? Cannes Lions, the International Festival of Creativity. One of those events where you do ‘business’ with your feet in clear blue ocean water, your flip flops in one hand and a cold glass of rose in the other. Why? Because you Cannes.

The sense and/or nonsense of a ‘casual’ business event like Cannes Lions has always been a sensitive subject. Especially when you feel the eyes of your colleagues back home in the office, peeking enviously at your sun-filled Instagram Stories. ‘You have to be there to understand’ is a common excuse. Or: ‘there are so many inspiring people and keynotes!’. A reasoning that was recently noted down in the most hilarious way by Bob Hoffman in his blog ‘Dying at Cannes’. Bob pulled together a list of all the Cannes clichés and I have to admit: it’s spot on and one big feast of recognition. Please have a laugh/read ‘as a free service to you other losers who didn’t attend’.

Let’s save the debate on whether you should play and lay with the big boys in Cannes, for another day. After all, between the glitter and gutter, you might forget that this is still the Oscars for the creative industry. Or, as TWBA founder Diederick Koopal called it in his brilliant(!) College Tour Talk (must see): ‘the World Cup of Advertising’.

World Cup or not, just like many other industry awards, they come up with just enough different categories to keep all the sponsors satisfied. To separate the coffee from the corn, there are the Grand Prix awards. The highest attainable for all those who are creative at heart. Over the years, this competition has put a number of iconic concepts in the well-deserved spotlight. We all remember the ‘Always #LikeAGirl’ campaign by Leo Burnett, the Swedish Number by Ingo or the widely applauded (and criticized) Fearless Girl statue, a brainchild of creatives at McCann.

Like every year, they said that the bar has been raised again. Whether they have lived up to that expectation, is up to you. Without further ado, I present my personal top 5 Cannes Lions 2019 winners. In my humble opinion, of course …

1.    Max Graffiti Stores by Nike

Agency: AKQA São Paulo / Category: Media

To celebrate their position in the heart of the street culture, Nike Air Max created a geolocation-based brand tool to connect their brand to graffiti artists in Sao Paulo. By turning graffiti art into urban pop up stores. This project proves in a playful way that you need more than a fancy ad to create a prize winning campaign.

2.    The Truth Is Worth It by New York Times

Agency: Droga5 / Category: Film and Film Craft


The American newspaper The New York Times emphasizes the usefulness of independent investigative journalism with a series of engaging videos. In a time of fake news and headline journalism they reconstruct step by step how news is properly covered. A reality check for all of us, in or outside the media industry.

3.    Go Back To Africa by Black & Abroad

Agency: FCB/Six Toronto / Category: Creative Data

Travel organization Black & Abroad wants to show the diversity and beauty of African countries and deal with prejudices about the continent. As a fan and frequent visitor of this beautiful continent, I hurray the way they challenge the biased public opinion towards Africa. As a fan of data-driven creativity, I think they use research data in a very powerful way to make people go back to Africa.

4.    5B: The Inspiring Nurses by Johnson & Johnsonh

Agency: UM Studios New York / Category: Entertainment / Brand Film


The pharmaceutical industry and marketing have never been in an easy marriage, but Johnson & Johnson was not afraid to swallow this bitter pill and show courage with this brand film. The documentary, directed by Dan Krauss (O.J. Made In America), is about nurses who did not stigmatize AIDS patients.

5.    See Sound by FCB Health Network

Agency: Area 23 / Category: Innovation

In what might be my favorite category (innovation), this campaign proves that solving big problems with ‘simple’ solutions is still solid as a rock. See Sound developed a device that alerts the deaf and hard hearing to different sounds such as a fire alarm or a crying baby.

Last, but not least I want to give an honorable mention to the people at 360i, who created a voice-game for the Alexa devices from Amazon. The game is fully voice controlled an offers the fans of HBO’s Westworld an opportunity to have a more immersive experience with their favorite show. Despite the fact that this has not reached a mainstream audience, it proves that the boundaries of Radio and Audio has not been set yet. Watch.. eeuh.. hear and learn:

So far my personal favorites. I’m fully aware of the fact that your top 5 may look totally different, but that is what makes our industry so interesting.

Feel free to drop your favs in the comments below!

Joost Geurtsen

Joost Geurtsen

Joost is Head of Global Brand Partnerships at Insight TV. He uses his commercial and creative skills to bring our branded entertainment to the next level.