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By Kendra Clark | Senior Reporter

June 22, 2022 | 3 min read

A one-of-a-kind digital tool designed to help Ukrainians capture historical artifacts and cultural landmarks in 3D imagery has been awarded the Digital Craft Lions Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022.

On the second day at Cannes Lions, the Digital Craft Lions Grand Prix — which spotlights the best technological craft in the industry — was awarded to Virtue Worldwide New York for a project designed to protect and preserve Ukrainian cultural artifacts amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It was selected among 661 entries to win the top award in the category.

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The campaign, ‘Backup Ukraine,’ was developed in tandem with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Blue Shield Denmark. It was led by Virtue Worldwide, a Vice Media-owned creative agency.

The project centers on a digital and mobile platform that enables people in Ukraine to capture and digitally preserve 3D images of historical artifacts, monuments and other culturally-relevant structures and objects at risk of being damaged or destroyed in light of the ongoing war with Russia. The tool employs technology developed by 3D imaging startup Polycam to create realistic digital replicas and store the digital blueprints of the artifacts they capture in the cloud.

“The ‘Backup Ukraine’ project allows all the citizens from Ukraine to preserve their greatest wealth as a nation: their culture,” said Luciana Haguiara, executive creative director at Media.Monks Brazil and president of the Digital Craft Lions jury. “Using a real-time smartphone camera and GPS,” she explained, “everyone can capture any place or monument in minutes and save the data as blueprints in the cloud to preserve it forever — and all of this with their own phones. [It’s] a project that turns every Ukrainian citizen into a guardian of their national heritage…culture is the identity of people and it can’t be destroyed.”

The award was something of a surprise; many believed that ‘McEnroe vs. McEnroe,’ a Michelob Ultra brand campaign created by FCB New York that used advanced technologies to depict tennis icon John McEnroe playing against various versions of his past self would bag the title. It took the Gold Lion.

However, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has been a key focus at this year’s festival in Cannes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a video appearance at the event, urging attendees to make the conflict in Ukraine a central focus. “We are defending against a nuclear state that has unlimited access to money and has disregarded any limits on violence,” he said. “I'll be honest with you — the end of this war and its circumstances depend on the world's attention. And that's why I need allies. We need people like you.”

He called on the industry’s creatives to use their talents to raise awareness on behalf of Ukraine. "I am sure that you will do a lot more to promote Ukrainian bravery … you can bring peace to Europe simply by applying your professional qualities. I believe that the power of human creativity is greater than the power of a nuclear state that is stuck in the past," he said.

That wasn’t all; on Monday in Cannes, PR heavyweight Richard Edelman, alongside chess grandmaster and Russian exile Garry Kasparov, unveiled a new program focused on helping mobilize Western leaders to bring an end to the war in Ukraine.

Check out all the big winners at Cannes this year.

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