Xbox disability game-changer grabs Brand Experience prize


During a week when the issue of disability has shot to the forefront of Cannes Lions’ thinking, one of the big winners has been ‘Changing The Game’, created by McCann New York for client Microsoft Xbox. On Thursday, the campaign further confirmed its impact when it was awarded the Grand Prix for Brand Experience & Activation.

At the heart of the campaign was Microsoft’s decision to build bespoke gaming controllers that allow disabled people to compete on a level playing field with able-bodied counterparts. This was supported with creative executions in which charismatic kids explained the difference this has made to their quality of life. Jury president Jaime Mandelbaum said: “These controllers have a disproportionate impact on disabled people’s lives — giving them a confidence that they can take into the future. That goes way beyond the standard brand relationship.”

Mandelbaum, chief creative officer VMLY&R, said the jury was keen to capture the quality of work being done around the world. So there were also Gold Lions for campaigns from Peru, Sweden, Mexico and Israel. The latter was ‘Thisables’, another McCann entry that has catapulted the issue of accessibility into the Cannes Lions cauldron.

A priority for the jury, he added, was to reward brands that are not just talking about inclusion and gender as a way building awareness — but actually doing something: “That is the cost of entry,” he said.

Harriet Palmer