Cannes Lions Lessons: Sustainability at Every Touchpoint

Sustainable thinking must now be fully integrated into the brand and agency model; it can no longer be additional. Sustainability was one of the central themes of this year’s Cannes Lions and it was not discussed in silos. Instead, it was at the heart of many Festival discussions and Lion-winning creative work, crossing sectors and disciplines.

Winner of the Creative Business Transformation Lions Grand Prize, the award that recognizes creativity that drives business forward. L&C New York’s ‘Piñatex’, brought together Dole Sunshine Company with startup Ananas Anam.

Judging Chair Ronald Ng, Global Chief Creative Officer, MRM, explained that: “Dole identified waste as a business problem, found a partner to help solve it, and transformed its operations to improve and make develop the offer. Taking things a step further, they found more partners to sustain and market it to create new revenue for Dole, Ananas Anam and farmers.

On the Festival stages, speakers highlighted creativity as a key driver of positive change, helping to create sustainable solutions for people and the planet, while supporting business growth. Sustainability is one of the six themes explored in the Cannes Lions Official Summary Report.

Global industry takes critical action
The industry taking action to reduce its environmental impact has dominated the Festival, as brands and companies prioritize engagements and collaborations to push the sustainability agenda forward.

Ad Net Zero, the industry initiative to achieve essential carbon reductions in the development and production of creative works by 2030, has announced an international rollout, supported by companies, agencies and organizations professionals, as well as the Cannes Lions Festival itself.

Sustainable solutions driven by innovation
Brands are turning to creativity to make sustainability initiatives more inventive, authentic and impactful. This year’s Lion-winning work has proven that it pays to be ethical, as sustainability-driven creativity has driven business transformation, innovation and resilience.

Brands are using creativity to rethink every stage of a product’s life cycle, leading to innovations like clothing that consumes pollution, dissolvable packaging, and waste reused to form new materials. As part of the Innovation Lions, the Grand Prize was awarded to Leo Burnett Sydney’s Suncorp Group’s ‘A House to Save Many’, a prototype house resistant to extreme weather conditions.

With climate change leaving entire communities in North Queensland uninsurable, Suncorp pointed out that 97% of disaster funding is spent on repair and reconstruction, while only 3% is spent on prevention.

Cleve Gibbon, CTO, Wunderman Thompson, and Lions Innovation Jury Chair, said, “Each year in Australia, homes are destroyed and billions are spent to rebuild communities due to extreme weather events. it democratizes access to resilient building materials to protect homes against tropical cyclones, floods and fires.

“This housing solution has come about through a creative brand/agency partnership supported by the Australian Government to deliver a transformative product that is commercially viable. As a jury, we were blown away by the audacity of the idea, the bravery creative execution, and the massive societal, environmental and economic impact.

Longevity and scale to drive action
Longevity and scale were clear across the lines in many examples of Lions winning work, where jurors wanted to see a commitment to grassroots action. The Budweiser Energy Collective, an internal AB InBev New York initiative for Budweiser, is committed to brewing 100% renewable energy by 2025.

It has also mobilized bar managers to switch to renewable energy, avoiding 810,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions – the equivalent of removing 675,000 cars from the roads. He won a Silver Medal in the Creative Business Transformation Lions and has shown that it is possible to drive both long-term business growth and prioritize a sustainability agenda.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a blueprint, designed to address key global challenges facing people around the world, from poverty and inequality to the impacts of climate change. They provide an important framework for scaling up action.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions, Johan Pihl, CCO and co-founder of Doconomy, and SDG Lions juror, told brands they should: “Look at the problems they’ve caused and fix them Appear as a brand that is not meeting these SDG targets, but integrating them into its ecosystem, not just as a project, but as part of its business model.

Read more insights and learnings around six critical themes in the official Cannes Lions summary report which is now available.

Charles P. Patton