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Cannes Lions 2019: the gold standard in music

Jul 04, 2019
Cannes Lions is a five-day festival that recognises excellence across all creative communications. Their ‘Entertainment Lions for Music’ award was introduced to celebrate the musical collaborations and original content that breaks the mould and really communicates with its consumers – awarding the creatives who continue to experiment with what’s possible in advertising.

The shortlist for 2019 was filled with original entries across a range of categories, covering everything from brand partnerships to product integration into music content – but despite their obvious differences, there was one theme that continued to emerge throughout.

Whether it was challenging gender stereotypes with Gillette’s Barbershop Girls, or ending gun violence with March For Our Lives’ ‘The Most Vicious Cycle’ composition, much of 2019's music shortlist focused on bringing important political issues into the mainstream.

None did this as effectively as musicians Childish Gambino and Baco Exu do Blues, and it’s for this reason that Cannes Lions parted with more than one Grand Prix for music this year.

When Childish Gambino released his ‘This is America’ music video, it wasn’t long before it racked up hundreds of millions of hits on YouTube – and the popularity of this track was down to more than its infectious beat. The feel-good intro is quickly interrupted by a loud gunshot, and from there the lyrics and video go on to explore uncomfortable themes of violence and racism in America.

Brazilian rapper Baco Exu do Blues achieved something similar with his music video, Bluesman. In just seven minutes, Baco’s beautiful short film breaks down unconscious racial stereotypes by placing lyrics like ‘they want our skin to be the skin of crime’ alongside a video that challenges people’s preconceptions.

This theme extended beyond the Grand Prix winners, with other notable entrants also choosing to submit entertainment with a real sense of purpose. Giving Tuesday’s ‘Giving Songs’ campaign took home silver for using YouTube as a platform to raise money for important causes in Puerto Rico, the Federal Government of Brazil won Gold for ‘Mistaken Love Song’, raising awareness for violence against women – and even outside the music category, industry giant Nike continued the trend by making Colin Kaepernick the face of their ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign, encouraging people to stand for what they believe in.

All these entries prove that consumers are craving something new from their music and from marketing in general. They want authenticity. Generation Z has turned consumption into an expression of self, and businesses are now rethinking their strategies in order to align with their audience’s beliefs. The internet means that any brands claiming to be ethical have to practice what they preach, and as a result, more and more companies are acting on their ideals and becoming a more authentic version of themselves.