Today's youth can take pride in their future

The annual Future Lions ideas competition, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, asks the upcoming generation for new ways to connect brands with audiences. It doesn’t say anything about trying to change the world.

AKQA’s student ideas contest is in its 14th year. It’s the festival’s only ideas competition that doesn’t prescribe a sector, brand or product, and so it uniquely offers a total creative freedom. The brief simply asks for ideas that connect existing global brands with audiences in ways that weren’t possible three years ago.

Interestingly, despite this socially neutral brief, the students are on a growing quest to do social good, and in 2019 this has been overwhelming, with 95% of 1,000+ entries now proposing new ways to improve our existing world. The competition’s international popularity is harnessing a broad mix of perspectives - this year it’s drawn entries from 71 countries - with a clear focus on helping minorities and people in need.

The entrants have broadly expressed this year’s theme - ‘break through’ - in terms of breaking through social barriers such as poverty, geography, conflict, sexuality, disability, or age. Many are capitalising upon existing, widely available platforms, and are innovatively augmenting these with cutting-edge technologies. Most are actively taking responsibility for the quality of life, safety or freedom of those around them, with some exceptional empathy and brilliance.

Future Lions thus shows the importance of giving young brains the freedom to explore technology’s potential without any prescribed restraint, because they’re consistently finding untapped - and clearly viable - ways to improve lives on a mass scale. It suggests that the new generation is determined to overcome the constant bombardment of technology aimed at themselves, and instead will find clever ways to apply that technology to help others.

So we need to trust and invest in our upcoming generation and talent. They’re demonstrably eager to apply their energy and unconditioned thinking to positively change the world, and we owe it to them to give them the platform to do so, as well as aiming for the exact same outcomes ourselves. After all, the companies that attract this talent will be the ones that embody these same philanthropic values.

This all seems particularly important amidst an era of profound environmental and political turmoil. Caring about our new generation means doing everything that we can to support them in envisioning, defining and realising a better future.

The 2019 Future Lions award ceremony takes place at 11.15am on Tuesday 18th June, in the Debussy Theatre.