Y&R Brings Coco Chanel to Cannes

Jun 18, 2017


One year ago, a commitment was forged in Cannes among the world’s largest communications holding companies in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals addressing some of our world’s most pressing issues. From spurring economic growth to fostering social inclusion and environmental protection, The Common Ground initiative launched at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was a call to action for the industry to build awareness and focus on these critical problems around the world through creativity.

As we mark the first anniversary of Common Ground, Y&R New York’s “The Whole Story Project” heads back to the Cannes Lions Festival to place the city’s first virtual statue of fashion pioneer and French native Coco Chanel. Located in front of the Palais, the virtual statue can be viewed through the free app that users can download here: http://apple.co/2sHaiMm

The Whole Story Project was developed in support of UN Goal 5 to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” A team of New York creatives found inspiration on the streets of the big apple. Just steps away from Y&R’s office, a statue of Christopher Columbus looks over Columbus Circle and dozens of statues adorn Central Park--but the overwhelming majority of these statues commemorate men alone.

"Psychologist Lynette Long has said that ‘the nonverbal sends a stronger message than the verbal.’ And ‘if you can't see it, you can't be it. So we want to show girls everywhere that they can ‘be it,’ says Leslie Sims, Chief Creative Officer, Y&R North America.  

Y&R’s creative team set out to balance this inequity in public imagery and celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of women. Building new statues was out of the question – price tags range in the hundreds of thousands to millions, along with the red tape of permits and permissions for space. So the team looked to technology to create a solution. Augmented reality, that became a phenomenon last summer with the success of Pokemon Go, was the answer to creating statues in an economically efficient and accessible way.

The team utilized augmented reality to create an experience for everyone to see and learn about real women who have made an impact on our history. The Whole Story Project places virtual statutes of notable women into the world. The project’s mobile app and online platform enable users to see, share and add new virtual statues and also find biographical details about each woman.

In early April, Women in the World Summit founder Tina Brown launched the project by placing the first virtual statue in a park in New York and made an announcement of the app during the 3-day event. Following the launch, the project received an invite to become the app of record for The National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, a group creating a US National Votes for Women Trail leading up to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the 19th amendment in 2020.  A Girl Scout troop in NY placed several statues in Central Park and Y&R offices including Milan, Rome, Prague, and London created and placed statues in their cities. The Whole Story Project is inviting creators and developers worldwide to build and place statues of women in their own cities.

If you are at Cannes Lions this week, take a moment and download The Whole Story app (it’s free!) and go see and learn about Chanel (share your photos #yrcannes). And if you’re not in Cannes, there are more than 30 other statues to see worldwide.