Cannes Lions in Egypt: The Best “Relevant” Creative Work and Takeaways

Late last year, we announced that the world’s most creative festival, Cannes Lions, was to open up shop in Cairo through its new official representatives, The Worx.

Since their announcement, The Worx and partner Amr El Tobgi have been busy preparing for several launches and events. Last week, the team opened its doors to a special invite-only screening of some of 2019’s biggest winners at Cannes Lions.

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Players from both client and agency side met up and chatted in-between campaign case studies, as strategists and managers discussed their favorite campaigns and ideas.

According to Tobgi, the ads shown were selected as the most relevant creative wins and work to Egypt and MENA. When we asked him how he compared local and international entries for the festival, he told us “our market has super creative work however there is a lot of room to expand into new growing territories such as; the insightful use of technology, uniqueness and consistency in brand personalities/tone of voice in communication, campaigns are still trying to entertain and sell benefits while brands now create movements and mobilize tribes and societies, and diversity in creative formats as we are stuck with the use of celebrities, jungles, ping pong copy humor and certain art direction themes that are common in many ads.”


Cannes Lions 2019 Takeaways

Cannes Lions Egypt showcased several campaigns such as the infamous Nike Kaepernick campaign, An-Nahar’s Blank Edition, New York Times’ The Truth, and Burger King’s notorious Whopper Detour campaign.

During the presentation and screening, it became apparent that today’s world of marketing and advertising needs to and has stepped up. The main themes at the showing were gender equality, social justice and innovative technology, but campaigns that deal with experiences and entertainment still made themselves known.

Here are our biggest takeaways from Cannes Lions Egypt’s screening

  • Equality and Social Justice are becoming even more important as pillars to promote brand values and use brand leverage for good. Supporting an important cause that is relevant or close to your brand’s heart continues to be powerful encouragement for consumer trust, loyalty and creating authenticity for your brand.
  • Big Statements = Big Wins. This year, An-Nahar’s Blank Edition became the region’s first ever Grand Prix winner. This campaign, along with many other examples, shows that brands will need to take a powerful stand and move away from diplomatic answers. Brands will need to push buttons to break out of the clutter and really create a relatable and brand/campaign, whether its through tough love or beautiful visuals (like Nike’s).
  • Technological Innovation and cheeky marketing continue to make a great but unusual pairing through campaigns such as Burger King’s Whopper Detour and Project: AOR (Agency of Robots) which saw an AI algorithm create ads after watching hundreds of advertisements. Burger King’s innovative and quirky use of technology shows us that we still need a lot of push when it comes to understanding how to manipulate technology for more “nefarious” and fun purposes, but also that there are still a lot of possibilities to play with.

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At the end of the event, we spoke with Mai Salama, Managing Partner of The Worx and CL Eg representative, on how Egypt compared in creativity with international competition. She told us “we have great potential when it comes to creativity, and Egypt is always referred to as a country of creativity when our region is mentioned. In fact, Egypt was ranked 3rd winning country last Dubai Lynx. I think we are on the right track to winning back our creative stance and leadership position. We [simply] need to focus more on technology and how we can integrate it within our communication [more].”

Cannes Lions Egypt also announced that they will be opening a Cannes Lions Academy in Egypt, but would not disclose when the academy would open its doors.

Official Cannes Lions Egypt representative Neamat Khalil gave us a hint about the upcoming academy and their activities.

“Education is a very important pillar for Cannes Lions Globally and we believe that we have a duty to help in developing and exposing our local market to the knowledge and learnings from the global scene and from the best in the different creative industry. We plan to have a very active community in the Egyptian market… [with] lots of activities that should target different segments in the market starting from the young professionals all the way to the executives. We also plan to offer different activities that cater to brands as well as agencies.”

Earlier this year, The Worx sent a young student on a full scholarship to the Cannes Lions Academy in France during this year’s festival, the first Egyptian student to receive the honor. The student was chosen at a special workshop/competition where various students showed off their creativity and talent through a series of games/tests.

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