BY Mads Haakansson, Partner & Creative at N’Fellows and Pernille Vaaben Nielsen, Freelance Sports Marketer

It’s a wrap. The world’s largest creative gathering and awards program for the advertising industry, Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018, just finished.

A week where education, inspiration and networking a combined with a strong focus around the creative courage and innovation that exist around the world. From film craft, VR and new technology to PR, communications and integrated marketing campaigns as well as brand experience and activation.

In this article, we’ve collected some of favorite cases within brand experience and activation – and with an extra love to the world of sports. Our focus have been selecting the greatest examples on how brands can strengthen their business and relationships with customers by advocating their narrative through action and not just communications.

Because we believe the best companies are storytellers, but the greatest companies are storydoers. The brands that will be most successful it in the future is the brands that make a difference. It can be in every scale, but the most important is that they do instead of saying. From brands building up great experiences and activations that engage the customers or fans to brands that makes a big difference to the world by solving small or big problems.

Sometimes the best advertising isn’t advertising.

Fight for Territory by DDB GROUP New Zealand for Steinlager

The English and Irish Lions Rugby Tour of New Zealand is a big deal, a huge deal. And they only come every twelve years, so Steinlager, the official sponsor of the All Blacks, wanted to get the most out of the tour and fuel the excitement and rivalry that made the competition so great.

Well, during the Lions Tour teams and fans actually spend more time at the airport travelling between stadiums than they do at the actual stadiums. But there is nothing going on at the airport, no advertising, no support, it doesn’t even feel like part of the tour.

So, Steinlager bought every sign which included 65 digital screens across both national and international terminals and 8 large scale static billboards. They then told their rival, Guinness, the official sponsor of the Lions, that they could have the signs. But they had to fight Steinlager for them.

Steinlager had fitted each of the 65 digital screens with a camera and microprocessor and programme them to recognise fans. Fans from either team could then take over the signs and blanket the airport for their team. All they had to do was approach the screen and stand their ground. Just like a rugby match on the field it was a fight for territory.


Intel Drone Light Show a
t The Olympics by Intel Corporation Santa Clara for Intel
As a first-time Top Olympic Partner (TOP), Intel wanted to stand out amongst other tech giants like Samsung, Panasonic, and GE. But instead of just making ads, Intel brought its own technology to the games. Using its Shooting Star drones, Intel created a tangible way to experience the power of technology and innovation.

Drones are more known for commercial applications for industries such as Film, Agriculture, Construction, Energy, and Utilities. Intel’s drone light show service utilizes lightweight Shooting Star drones outfitted with LEDs to create a new entertainment experience that we provide as a service to partners. Each show is a custom undertaking: new animations, fleet counts, and piloting challenges are just a few details that our in-house team manages from beginning to end.


Nike React Game of Go by Mediamonks Amsterdam for NIKE
Nike was introducing its newest performance technology, Nike React. The problem? Unlike Nike’s Air or it’s recent VaporMax, React’s unprecedented energy-returning capabilities aren’t easy to see. The only way to understand how revolutionary it really is is to experience it, or see someone like you experience it.

The solution to telling the story of this invisible technology was to make the fun, giddy bounce React delivers and the feeling of running in them actually visible. The idea was that inside all of us is a secret runner, an alternate version of ourselves that most of us haven’t been in touch with since we were kids. The Nike Reacts, with their addictive bounciness, gave you access to that inner runner and gave you immediate desire to take off running. The creative idea was to give that sensation—and the runner inside all of us—a visual representation, allowing everyday non-runners a chance to actually create their running avatar as they experienced the shoes in real-time and in a public place.


FIFA 18 More than a Game by Adam&EvE / DDB London for EA Sports
To launch FIFA 18, and find a wider audience, EA wanted to prove the virtual game had the power to influence real football and culture beyond. So they created and hid a new skill move called ‘El Tornado’ in the game, then challenged gamers to find it – and PUT YOUR SPIN ON IT. Pro footballers, FIFA’s biggest Youtube influencers, football skillers, digital artists, rappers Run the Jewels and partnerships with Adidas and Coke kicked off a frenzied search for the secret combo across multiple social channels. Once discovered, a whole new audience began uploading their own versions of the trick, then creating how-to videos, memes, remixes and real-life trick attempts by the thousands. Pro-Footballers, pressured by fans, demanded EA allow their virtual-selves to do the move, they launched ‘El Tornado Certified’. Footballers who posted video evidence of their El Tornado ability received FIFA18 footage confirming their upgraded in-game character.


Breaking 2 by National Geographic Washington D.C for NIKE

Through the Breaking2 endeavor, NIKE not only created an understanding of the depth of innovation behind this attempt, but they more importantly brought to life less quantifiable components — the power of the heart and the mind.

Taking branded storytelling to the next dimension, they took a seminal sports moment, and told it through the National Geographic lens to create an empowering moment for mankind.

With breathtaking cinematography backed by a culturally-charged musical score, viewers found themselves rooting for each runner as their unique stories and personalities came to life. Despite the story’s heartbreaking outcome of barely missing the 2-hour mark, “Breaking2” was a win — inspiring, poignant and captivating — illustrating that there’s triumph and glory in not just winning, but in the journey it takes to get there, a message that mirrors the brand ethos of Nike and National Geographic and reaches far beyond the world of sports.


Project Revoice by BWM Dentsu Sydney for The ALS Association

We’ve chosen “Project Revoice” as the last case, because it’s a perfect example of how we think brands in the future can go from storytelling to storydoing by solving a problem and then make a big difference for the target group.

Project Revoice gives people with ALS the ability to speak freely and naturally in their own voice, even after they can’t physically speak – and solves a big problem. Because in many ways, our voices are what make us human. For most patients losing the voice is particularly difficult as it’s such an integral part of one’s personality.

To launch the program, The ALS Association recreated the voice of Pat Quinn, who co-founded the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge while fighting the disease himself. Since Pat hadn’t backed up his voice in any way, they rebuilt his voice using audio data from Ice Bucket interviews and speeches found online.

Going forward, this program will change how people live with ALS, allowing them to keep communicating as themselves, rather than through a proxy machine voice or a limited set of pre-recorded phrases.

Sometimes the right problem is the hardest to find, but when you have it the great ideas will come!


More inspiration?

You can check out all the cases from Cannes Lions International Festival of Creaticity by yourself at

And if you want to have almost daily inspiration within brand activation you can follow @storydoing.inspire and @sportvertising at Instragram, where you’ll find more cases.


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