Looking back on Future Lions

March 2015

In collaboration with the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and Google, AKQA is hosting Future Lions for the tenth year.


In ten years, a lot can happen.

There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. There were no smartphones or tablets. The phrase "smart watch" didn't even exist. We wandered the streets looking for available cabs instead of tapping on our phones for a car service to come to us; we booked expensive hotel rooms instead of seeking more affordable stays at comfy apartments.

In ten years, a lot has happened.

When Future Lions began in 2005, the digital and social landscapes were completely unrecognizable.

None of us could have predicted any of this. But there were a few who were imagining and creating it every day. The future belongs to those who create it.

And that's what Future Lions has been, is and will always be about.

It's about those who will create the future.

For ideas and innovation company AKQA, it was the perfect opportunity to take the initiative and invest in the next generation of the industry. Now in its tenth anniversary, Future Lions has become one of the most popular and highly anticipated seminars at Cannes.

Since its inception, submissions for the competition have evolved tremendously — from PowerPoint presentations to elaborate case study videos showcasing ideas that could potentially change the world. There were less than 35 entries in our first year. In 2014, over 1,700 teams from more than 40 countries participated.

Some of the Future Lions winning ideas influenced actual Cannes Lions winners in the following years, letting the winners truly leave their mark on the industry.

"It took long hours and a lot of coffees to reach an idea like 'Netflix Places.' But it was definitely rewarding. So much that it's still in our portfolio reminding us everyday to search for the best work we can ever find and never stop being innovative."

- Gabriel T. Garcia & Felipe Sampaio (Art Director & Copywriter at Fred and Farid, Future Lions winners 2011)

When we began this competition, the brief was simple: Come up with an idea that was not possible five years ago for a brand of your choosing. This brief remained unchanged for a decade. But innovation is coming in faster and stronger waves than ever before — five years is now a lifetime.

This year, we are reducing the timeline from five years ago to three years ago and challenging the students to come up with ideas that are newer and braver. The world is always evolving and we need to follow suit.

"As a competition that truly celebrates innovative and revolutionary thinking, Future Lions really has beaten the industry in creating tomorrow's communication. As one team out of a few receiving the honor of being picked as winners, we're happy to say it has opened the doors for our careers."

- David Svedenström, Ludwig Hallstensson, and August Östberg (Creative Fellows at AKQA, Future Lions winners 2014)

Having seen what the first decade has offered us, we can only imagine what the next ten years have in store — and we could not be more excited about it. Here's a look back at some of the standouts from the past ten years:

  1. Google Gesture (2014) - David Svedenström, Ludwig Hallstensson, and August Östberg
  2. Awaken by Amazon (2013) — Tatsuki Tatara, Konomi Tashiro, Tomoki Hayashida, Taichi Nihei and Kenji Shimo
  3. Bing Automatic (2012) — Christopher Sheldon, Marybeth Ledesma, Nadia Hyder and Nick Maschmeyer
  4. Netflix Places (2011) — Gabriel T. Garcia & Felipe Sampaio
  5. A Penguin's Tale (2010) — Peter Ammentorp and Nicolai Villads
  6. IKEA (2009) — Gian Jonathan and Wai Wa
  7. Starbucks Signature (2008) — Karen Gereffi and Katy Graham
  8. 1-800 Flowers (2007) — Gabriel Cheung and Adam Schaffer

Future Lions 2015 has announced their "Call for Entries" and the submission deadline is 15 April 2015. If you're ready, now is the time to Make Your Move. Futurelions.com.

- Rei Inamoto, Chief Creative Officer, AKQA

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