How augmented reality (AR) transported customers to Cannes

July 28, 2021 | By: Heather Eng, Sr. Editorial Lead

Cannes Lions has become an annual ritual for marketing leaders around the world—a week to meet and mingle with peers on the French Riviera.

But with this year’s event being fully virtual, Amazon Ads sought to create an experience that would digitally transport customers to Cannes. The team drew inspiration from Amazon’s augmented reality (AR) team, which has started to create AR experiences on Amazon boxes to surprise and delight customers.

Looking toward Cannes, the Amazon Ads team saw an opportunity to create their own whimsical experience for customers using AR technology. “We wanted to bring the south of France to our customers in a new and delightful way,” says Diana Ruiz, Head of Strategic Events, Amazon Ads. “Augmented reality offers the opportunity to create immersive experiences that can take viewers to another time or place.”

Amazon Ads worked with Jack Morton, a global brand experiential agency, in consultation with the Amazon AR team, to develop the experience. Together, they came up with the idea of an AR postcard—a physical postcard that customers could view through their phones to watch the scene come to life.

“The AR postcard was all about transporting our audience to Cannes,” says Alex Esguerra, SVP, Executive Creative Director, Growth, Jack Morton. “There’s a magic that permeates the air along La Croisette and we wanted to find a simple, authentic way to give them a taste of what it feels like to be there.”

Polly Fong, a creative on the Jack Morton design team, was enamored with the hand-drawn travel postcards that are ubiquitous in souvenir shops in resort towns. This became the basis for the experience’s look and feel.

“As we started to picture bringing this scene to life, we thought about what this would look like if the boats were rocking, palms were swaying, and French music was playing in the background,” says Esguerra.

Amazon Ads and Jack Morton decided to place the postcard viewers at the Vieux Port de Cannes—the physical spot where Amazon Ads will be once Cannes Lions returns to being an in-person event.

“The background is quintessentially Cannes,” says Esguerra. “Having the viewers’ perspective looking across the bay, seeing the docked boats with the Old World charm of Old Town at the foot of Mont Chevalier with Le Suquet, this felt like the perfect scene to paint that picture.”

The illustrated, AR-enabled postcard that transported viewers to Cannes.

Jack Morton took a “less is more” approach to the design. “We opted to keep the experience understated while activating the three senses of touch, sight, and sound,” says Esguerra. “You feel the weighted traditional postcard in your fingertips and you see the commissioned line work by the artist, Blue Logan, as it awakens with gentle activity. You hear the sound of the sea, the boats rocking, the gulls in the distance, and the soft sounds of a French street performer playing music in the background. A simple handwritten message appears letting you know we will see you soon.”

Some Amazon Ads customers and Adweek Creative 100 honorees received the postcard as part of a gift box that included other items that harkened back to the sights, tastes, and feelings of Cannes—such as a bottle of rosé, a beach tote, sunscreen, and a Turkish towel—to complete the Cannes experience.

“A big part of how brands show up at Cannes is through the lens of festivities, parties, awards, and, to be frank, it can be a bit overwhelming,” says Esguerra. “While we all enjoy that side of it, we’re also there to get real work done and to have the right conversations, and truly connect with those who can help empower our brand goals. With that in mind, we made a conscious decision to embrace The Port and its natural separation from the frenetic energy at the beach to convey that what happens at The Port is going to be different. It’s going to be your home in Cannes, so relax, breathe in the salty air, and let's get to work!”