It's one of the most-awarded - and most talked-about - campaigns of this year's Cannes Lions. 'The Next Rembrandt', a project for Dutch bank ING from JWT Amsterdam, used a great insight, machine learning and 3D printing to make an all-new painting from the 17th century old master, Rembrandt van Rijn.
I talked to the campaign's creators (and took a good look at the painting itself) in Cannes, and Warc subscribers can read the full story of how the campaign was developed and executed here. 'The Next Rembrandt' was also the talk of 'Cannes winners and the ones that got away', an event organised by the APG and the Guardian, and held in London last night. At the event, panellists praised the campaign as an unusually good example of a big trend in the industry: using data for great creative work, not just for new ways of slicing and dicing media buying.
"Humans alone couldn't do that," Neal Fairfield, head of planning at Razorfish, told the APG audience. "The relationship between humans and machines could be becoming more harmonious. Outlying technology comes of age. But creativity still requires a human touch."
Also speaking at the event, Malcolm Poynton, global chief creative officer at Cheil, praised the campaign's big idea - as well as its harnessing of cutting-edge tech. "When I look at the work at Cannes, I'm always looking for the insight," he added. "They took the insight and turned it into something that really became important."
When I caught up with them in Cannes, Bas Korsten, JWT Amsterdam's executive creative director, and Emmanuel Flores, the agency's head of technology, took me through the long journey the team went on following this insight, and before the painting was finally unveiled at a Dutch gallery earlier this year.
Over the 18-month project, there were many false dawns, a lot of scouring of art archives, the support of companies ranging from Microsoft to Canon, and the use of neural networks. 'The Next Rembrandt' is also the first Old Master painting to be made using SCRUM sprints. (Flores is a certified SCRUM master.)
"There's a transformation going on in the agencies," Flores said. "For people like me, who get into it, we are discovering ways to radicalise the industry. [But] you encounter the creatives and they're crazy!
"I'm very surprised at Bas' irregular thinking," he added. "I'm not sure how he maps things together mentally. But that's what's still needed – great ideas."
For Korsten, the project holds many lessons for the marketing industry as a whole - especially in how data can be used to make better creative work. "We can take this to other clients," he said. "It's not just about programmatic buying and serving relevant ads. It's about using data to get the best creative work.
"This is why the project is getting so much attention: it's about the power and beauty of data, not just the methodological restrictions data imposes."
Subscribers can find Warc's full coverage of the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival here