System That Gives Every 3-by-3-Meter Square an Address Wins Innovation Grand Prix

Pair of R/GA campaigns are also recognized

Headshot of Tim Nudd

CANNES, France—The Innovation jury at the Cannes Lions festival tonight handed out its Grand Prix to a fascinating effort to create a global grid of 57 trillion three-by-three-meter squares and give each one a three-word address, which, when adopted, could ease costly, frustrating, growth-limiting and even life-threatening problems in areas that are poorly addressed.

The system, called what3words, uses a unique combination of just three words to identify every three-by-three-meter square on the planet. As the U.K.-based group points out, it's far more accurate than a postal address and easier to use than a set of coordinates. Having accurate addresses improves customer experience, delivers business efficiencies, drives growth and helps social and economic development, particularly in developing countries.

See the case study below, and lots more about the work on the website.

3 Words To Address The World

Entrant: What3Words


There were 34 campaigns on the shortlist. Each of them was presented in person to the Innovation jury this week.

"There was nothing out of the 34 shortlisted that wasn't amazing," said R/GA's Nick Law, who served as jury president. "What was interesting about the Grand Prix winner is that it's already scaled. It's already done algorithmically. That three-meter square where you're sitting has an address in every language. The issue is making sure people know about it."

Law was optimistic the system would be adopted. "A FedEx or a hospital, once they realize this is a good thing and partner with the creatives on this technology, it's all going to happen," he said.

The jury embraced what3words even though the problems it intends to solve are somewhat remote for people living in more developed countries.

"We talked about how hard it was to imagine how profoundly important this was, because we don't live in places where addresses are a problem," said Law. "Among the other things we looked at for the Grand Prix, it was a lot easier to empathize with some of them, as they were a lot closer to our reality."

In addition to the Grand Prix, the jury handed out seven Innovation Lions. (Unlike most other categories in Cannes, Innovation does not hand out gold, silver and bronze Lions—only Innovation Lions.)

Two winners came from the U.S., and both were from R/GA: Diagenetix's BioRanger, a handheld biology lab for farmers to test for disease in food or water samples; and Owlet, a pair of connected smart sock that monitor your baby's vital signs.

Australia won two Innovation Lions as well, joined by China, Singapore and Ecudaor. In addition to R/GA, Grey also won two Lions for work from its Singapore and Ecuador offices.

See the case studies for all the campaigns below.

Diagenetix Bioranger

Entrant: R/GA, New York


Owlet Baby Care

Entrant: R/GA, New York


Baidu Kuaisou, Smart Chopsticks

Entrant: Baidu Online Network Technology



Optus, Clever Buoy

M&C Saatchi

Sydney, Australia


Luxottica, Penny The Pirate

Entrant: Saatchi & Saatchi

Sydney, Australia


Talwar Bindi, Life Saving Dot

Entrant: Grey Group Singapore



Panasonic, ACH2O

Maruri Grey

Guayaquil, Ecuador

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.