Without a doubt, it has been amazing to get the positive news that our AmLab proposal “How does aid work? Let us ask the crowd!” has been awarded a grant from the Gates Foundation. Almost equally inspiring is that the AmLab team – 1%CLUB, Text to Change (TTC) and Akvo – was invited to attend the Cannes Chimera workshop (14-15 November) at the Gates Foundation. One of the really unique elements of winning this grant is this invitation, along with access to a network of the most creative minds in the world to strengthen our proposal. Hajo (TTC), Anna, Bart and Marianne (1%CLUB) and I (Akvo), participated in the workshop for team AmLab.

Above: Taking inspiration from the Cannes Chimera workshop. Seattle, 14 November 2012. Photo credit: Frodo van Oostveen

Cannes Chimera is an initiative by the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to use the creative power of communication professionals around the world to do good.

The workshop took place at the new Gates Foundation office in Seattle, which has a superb visitor center. After a warm welcome and introductions, all of the grantees kicked-off with a 5-minute pitch. Team AmLab was honored to have Bart share our insights on how to gather first person stories and open data via simple, open-source mobile reporting tools. You can watch the presentation here on the Akvo Foundation YouTube channel. 

Above: Team AmLab attending the Cannes Chimera workshop.

What is really special about this workshop is the connection with the 14 Cannes Lions prize winners: the Cannes Chimera. According to Greek mythology, a Chimera is a creature that is composed of the parts of three animals: a lion, a serpent and a goat. You can imagine how excited we were to have the unique opportunity to work with them on our AmLab proposal. The feedback we received was pretty straight-forward: language too complex, need to keep it simple, only one target audience, only one product, make choices and start with drafting an interesting script or campaign.

One of our top Chimera, Adrian, shifted our AmLab brand into a 360 Transparency product. This will be a work in progress for us in the coming weeks and months and we will need to be explicit in how we position ourselves. Meanwhile, we will get started on our grass roots project on the ground in Kenya. You can find more information on our proposal here

The set-up of the workshop was very strong – a constant balance and dialogue between experts from the Gates Foundation and creative advertising power combined with a showcase of some of the work of our Chimera. For instance, the Nike 2010 World Cup ‘Write the Future’ advertisement.

It has been so powerful to bring these two worlds together, and the AmLab team feels really privileged to have been part of this great initiative and among the ten finalists chosen out of 914 entries for the Aid is Working. Tell the World challenge. Compliments to Tom Scott of the Gates Foundation and Philip Thomas of Cannes Lions for founding and launching this great initiative. This two-day creative and inspiring roller coaster has boosted our proposal to the next level, and of course we are aiming for a result that lives up to the standards of the Cannes Lions Festival. Perhaps we will present it next year in Cannes…?!

You can view additional photos from the workshop here on Flickr.

For additional information on the Cannes Chimera, please visit http://www.canneschimera.com/

Frodo van Oostveen is a programme manager at Akvo, based in the Netherlands.