I have a confession: I love Cannes Lions. It is one of two conferences (ANA Masters of Marketing the other), of the dozens that I attend each year, where I leave inspired and with a better understanding of the challenges marketers face. But that value is buried under a rosé sipping Instagram avalanche launched by entitled, self-congratulating sales pitches on sponsored yachts. Worst of all is the endless purpose washing on panels, without concrete plans for delivering change. But, if you dig into the actual work and seek to learn from the executives that are having real conversations and implementing action, it’s amazing the amount of inspiration and creative invention happening in the advertising world. At Cannes, the startup/new tech scene is always a bit lagging (mostly due to staggering cost to attend and the inability to stand above the noise of the tech giants), but I have highlighted 5 partnerships at the intersection of Davids (startups) and Goliaths (corporates) that show that with purposed based innovation, the advertising community may be able to change the world.
1 - Wavio
The winner of the Cannes Grand Prix in Innovation, Wavio’s See Sound, is the world’s first smart home system that alerts those with hearing impairments to sounds like a baby crying or a fire alarm, essentially enabling the deaf to see sound. The AI-leaning model reports on 75 sounds that it has learned from ingesting over 2 million YouTube videos – and sends a simple alert to the users smart-phone to notify them of the situation.
2 – Praxis
Research has shown that first person perspective in VR can increase empathy, reduce bias, and encourage the adoption of more inclusive behaviors. Praxis has reimagined diversity and inclusion trainings with research backed VR learning experiences to create sustainable change for individuals and organizations. They are literally allowing you to see the world through someone else’s eyes. As Atticus Finch said in To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Praxis is, for the first time, allowing that to happen in training.
Praxis DO Black Card
3 – Doconomy
Doconomy is a fintech company founded in Sweden in 2018 to tackle climate change by inspiring change in behavior and reducing unsustainable consumption and carbon emission. Their DO Black Card, is the world’s first credit card with a carbon limit. It stops you from overspending, not based on your available funds, but on the levels of CO2 emissions caused by your consumption.
4 – Mimica
1.3 billion tons of food is wasted globally each year. 60% of UK’s wasted food is still safe to consume. Enter in Mimica touch, a next-generation food label that is designed to tell you if your food is still fresh, so you can save more and waste less. It can tell you within hours if your milk has gone bad. If we added 2 days of safe shelf life to our perishable products, that would result in over 50% less waste overall. A very interesting way to see if brands that preached purpose and responsibility at the Palais this week, truly mean it.
5 – GirlGaze
GirlGaze is fighting the gender gap by getting more young female creators behind the camera and giving them opportunities with large brands. The network allows brands to sign up and find diverse, female-identifying and non-binary creatives to generate amazing content. The network has been in beta for the past few months, before launching at Cannes, and was integral in a global campaign from Dove, which employed 400 photographers and directors across 62 countries. Thus far, GirlGaze has worked with brands such as Levi’s, Nike, Google, and Warby Parker, and has brought in more than $1 million in pay to their network of female-identifying and non-binary creatives.
One of the reasons I started VentureFuel is the raw enthusiasm of founders to tackle really challenging problems. Each day we see dozens of people that have spotted a need, a challenge, a white space, and dedicate their lives and careers to seizing upon that opportunity. It revives your faith in humanity and leaves you in awe of our ability to deliver creative solutions to the most challenging problems. We help corporations tap into that energy to fuel growth and hopefully leave the world better than we found it.