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Communications Project Manager
The Cannes Young Lions competition highlights the innovative minds and diverse perspectives of young creatives all over the world.
Hamza Ali, Junior Art Director at Havas New York, won the chance to compete at Cannes this year with his film that raises awareness about blood cancer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Ali will represent the U.S. in the Film category at the Cannes Young Lions global competition this week.

Finish this sentence: Creativity is… making things better with gut feelings and enthusiasm. 

How did you get involved in the Young Lions Competition?

I was encouraged by Valentine Roche, our awards manager, and Dan Lucey, our CCO at Havas NY, to participate in Young Lions. I didn’t have a full-time copywriter at the time, so I teamed up with Allen Scher, a talented senior art director and it worked out perfectly.

Tell us a little bit about the assignment. 

The brief was to make a 30-sec film spreading awareness about Blood Cancer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Our target audience was the gaming community which made the challenge tricky since none of us were gamers. We had 5 days to come up with a creative idea and also produce it.

Our idea was called ‘Don’t Let Cancer Win’. We found out that blood cancer takes the lives of 1 out of 3 patients. In other words, it wins 30% of the time. To show that, we made an 8-bit style animation showing a player winning against a final boss. The player is revealed to be blood cancer defeating a patient, followed by the shocking stat that blood cancer wins 30% of the time and by donating to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, we can help change that reality.

Why do you think you won?

I believe we won because of the simplicity of our concept and the shock value which helped us drive our message home. We also used an 8-bit gaming aesthetic for our film which resonated with our gamer target audience.

How did you feel when you heard you won and will be representing the U.S. in the Cannes for the YL competition?

We spent an entire week working on this so winning felt fantastic. To celebrate it (more like process it), I ate a disgusting amount of New York pizza. I also made sure to thank my creative directors and friends who helped me during this creative process.

Also, I’m not an American, which is why I think it’s amazing to represent a country I’m not originally from.

What excites you most about heading to Cannes?

It’s a privilege. Cannes is the Oscars of advertising and to get invited in the first year of my career is beyond belief. I’m looking forward to meeting some of my favourite creatives and heroes from all over the world. 

It’s also my first trip to Europe which makes it even more exciting.

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