Pandemic in Cannes

Unfortunately, the pandemic made us wait a long time for the next edition of Cannes Lions, but after two years the festival returned and at the end of June the madness of nominations, bronzes, gold and finally the grand prix for the 2020 and 2021 submissions began. I must admit that I was most curious about the Creative eCommerce category, who would be on the jury and whether the pandemic and the losses people have suffered would take over this category completely. Well, and I was not disappointed.

Much has been said about the pandemic and probably some of us are tired of the uninvited guest in our lives. I’m tired too, but I was really looking forward to the voting results hoping that it was the solutions around the pandemic that would prevail. Why? Because this is the moment when, through creativity, we can help those who have been most affected by this whole situation. The jury was chaired by Tiffany Rolfe, Global Chief Creative Officer of R/GA, so I was confident that the category was in good hands, and that we would see some of the world’s best professionals among the jury members, such as Hironori Iwasaki, a professor in the Creative Innovation department at Musashino University of the Arts. This was a very good starting point.

As for the subject matter, as I mentioned at the beginning, I was not disappointed. All of the Grand Prix and Gold in the Creative eCommerce category were pandemic related (but not all directly) and those are what I would like to focus on. Homelessness, small farming and small retail. That’s pretty much how the results can be summed up.




The Big Issue, a magazine sold by homeless people on the streets in the UK, lost virtually all its customers due to the pandemic and remote working. The streets were empty and the homeless were left without jobs or livelihoods. Research showed that customers had previously supported The Big Issue because of the special bond they felt with their providers. 70% of the customers were active on the LinkedIn platform, so we were able to identify them by comparing their workplaces to the locations where the warehouse was sold. Using LinkedIn data, they digitally recreated the old neighborhoods of the outlets and reconnected them with the same professionals who walked past them each day. At first, the complexity of the project overshadowed the idea itself, but the brilliant idea decisively won out.

All of the top-scoring projects used existing platforms, and that’s a good sign that openness to innovation is becoming an everyday occurrence. This was also the case with Tienda Cerca in Bogotá. Bringing all the small stores in Bogotá onto the platform and allowing them to sell online was a favorite for me from the beginning. It was simple and effective to help all the entrepreneurs who were facing the decision to close their stores.

The same was true for farmers in Romania. Roadside Market took the most popular digital network for drivers, Waze, and made it usable as an e-commerce platform. Each farmer got his own icon to promote their roadside stand on the map and gained visibility to attract new customers and maintain their loyalty through the app. Suddenly, small farmers were part of an economy where they could sell their products armed with cashless payment solutions.  

And this is the project that I have pulled up myself under the pandemic, because the solution will take off brilliantly in the current situation.

Very often you get mixed feelings from looking at the results, especially at Cannes Lions and especially in this category, which is relatively new. However, this year I don’t feel that anyone will be underestimated or unfairly awarded.

I also encourage you to see all the nominated and awarded projects at the following link: