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Cannes: Innovation With Humanity

Posted 17 July 2015 9:00 AM by Jerry Hudson

I am writing this post from engaging.front.rescue. This is the three-word representation of the three-meter square area assigned by what3words (w3w) to the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates where I am sitting. This technology and app is the Grand Prix Lions Innovation winner for 2015. An idea that is truly transformational.

Seventy-five percent of the world — that’s four billion people — do not have addresses that are recognized by governments and businesses. But w3w’s new global addressing system brings hope and promise to those people. This means that basic services such as clean water can be maintained, all types of humanitarian aid can be delivered effectively, hospitals can be found by those in need and schools can be accessed by eager-to-learn children and adults. This means that people in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro can order online and get deliveries. This means that friends are met, that goods and services are delivered.

What3words is available for iOS and Android. For those of us with “standard” addresses, the app is fun to play with and to try to imagine what it could mean to the previously hard-to-reach four billion. Having an address empowers people. To them, it is a miracle.

Another transformational idea celebrated at Cannes: Life Saving Dot, which won the Innovation Gold Lion. In India, disproportionate numbers of rural women suffer from breast cancer, fibrocystic breast disease and pregnancy complications. Most of these problems can be traced to a lack of iodine. While iodine pills are readily available, these rural women cannot afford them. Recognizing this challenge, Talwar Bindi and the Neelvassant Research Center devised a unique and incredible solution. Almost all Indian women wear a bindi, the country’s traditional symbol of beauty that is placed on the forehead. The idea was to place doses of iodine on the bindis, transforming this vestige of loveliness into something that would save lives — and Life Saving Dot was born. These bindis have been distributed by clinics and health practitioners across rural India, saving and prolonging the lives of tens of thousands of women.

For me, Life Saving Dot was the flagship campaign among many others with women and women’s issues at its core. Under Armour’s commercial, “I Will What I Want,” created by Droga5 and starring Giselle Bundchen, was an example of empowering women and fighting against cyber-bullying. Always’ “#LikeAGirl,” created by Leo Burnett, is another great example of elevating young girls’ images of themselves during the often-challenging time of puberty.

And finally, there’s the Mobile Grand Prix that went to Google Cardboard. People who know Moxie will attest to the fact that our organization is an ardent supporter and evangelizer of virtual reality (VR). That the Grand Prix went to a piece of “hardware” and not to an experience speaks volumes for this simple and inexpensive platform that brings VR to the masses.

While many fret about the future of agencies and media, it was fantastic to see that in Cannes a lot of emphasis was placed on work that advanced humanity. For our industry, what could be more relevant and important than that?

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