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From Airbnb to Scotts Canada: My favourite outdoor 'losers' from Cannes Lions

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A scene from the Car Curling campaign for Russia's Smartpolis Insurance.

Cannes is all about celebrating the best of the best. Anyone can, and should, go online to see what is being awarded this year.

The winners are easy to find, but I wanted to take a minute to highlight some of my favorite losers – work that didn’t even make it to the shortlist in the Outdoor jury room this year, but that I've remembered and think there is something to learn from.

Scotts Canada 'Green Screen'

I love it when people put two things together that I’ve never seen put together before. Here Scott’s Lawn Care targeted Toronto film festival goers with an out-of-home activation campaign that showed off how green their lawn is by turning it into a green screen. People picked the background that they wanted to film with, climbed on to the lawn and in the end got a little piece of video content to share in social networks. I was impressed.

Airbnb 'Until we all belong'

Symbols matter. Symbols have power. Think of the well-awarded refugee flag this year. Or the Livestrong yellow wristband that was everywhere once. To promote marriage equality, Airbnb in Australia came up with an interesting design for a ring. I thought it was smartly designed and pretty powerful.

Smartpolis Insurance 'Car Curling'

Or how about this work from an insurance company in Russia – Car Curling? They pushed real cars into each other on the ice like a giant curling tournament. I thought that it was pretty hilarious and creative.

Alzheimer's 'A Night to Remember'

Here, to raise Alzheimer awareness in Lebanon, a team hijacked karaoke events and purposefully changed the lyrics to famous songs. As people got up to sing, they got confused as they sang the wrong lyrics in front of everyone – effectively simulating what it must feel like to suffer the disease, I thought.

Why weren’t these works acknowledged?

The short answer is that other other work was appreciated more. Not everything can win.

The longer answer is that these are not great examples for the Outdoor category, I think. They feel more like Promotions and Activations. (In fact, Car Curling did get a bronze in that category.)

But in the hype to celebrate all the winners, I think that it is important to remember that even losers can inspire.

Tim Doherty is chief creative officer at Isobar Asia Pacific

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