Twenty-four hours isn’t long when you’re tasked with helping to provide water for arid African villages. But that’s all the time Pip Perkins and Jennie Ko were given at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity earlier this week in the Young Lions Press ad competition.
The pair of young creatives from DDB were competing against 40 other national teams. And the brief for the competition challenged them to help raise awareness of Pump Aid, a charity that has helped individual villages to make and install more than 6000 water pumps, benefiting an estimated one million Africans.
“We got the brief and spent an hour really digesting it, went back to the hotel and started brainstorming and had about four or five different directions, then began coming up with ideas for each direction,” said Ko.
Narrowing their brainstorm down to a single winning idea proved difficult but several cups of coffee later, and hours of pain-staking art design, they turned the finished poster in for judging by the Cannes Lions Press jury.
The pair’s idea played on the fact that the pumps are easily assembled by the villagers themselves, with the line “Anyone can build it” above an iconic Ikea-style furniture assembly guide for the pump.
That Perkins and Ko didn’t win the Gold hasn’t dampened their spirits about being in Cannes though. And it helps that the Gold medal winners were also Kiwis, Matt Swinburne and Mike Felix, who currently work at Sydney agency Leo Burnett.
Felix and Swinburne were still working at DDB just over a year ago about the time Perkins and Ko began their careers there. All four enjoyed lunch together later in the day, effectively claiming the win for New Zealand’s creative community.
“Part of me was like ‘damn it’ when I heard their names called out,” said Perkins. “But then part of me thought that if it could go to anyone else it should go to them. They’re the loveliest guys.”
Having caught up on their sleep, Perkins and Ko spent the day attending seminars and a two-hour workshop.
“Our mind’s been on the competition the whole time until now, so it’s nice to have the pressure off and actually appreciate where we are,” said Ko. “To have this at the beginning of our careers, now we know how massive it can be and how far you can go in this industry. It’ll be really beneficial for us in the long run.”
Perkins and Ko won through to the Young Cannes Lions competition by winning the New Zealand Young Lions round, sponsored by Fairfax Media.