Cannes Lions 2017: Sperm count Smartphone App wins Mobile Grand Prix

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The mobile jury at Cannes handed its Grand Prix to a very unusual app, one that counts your sperm. This case study looks at how the app allowed men to test fertility from the comfort of their own home.

Case study summary

• Recruit Lifestyle wanted to highlight to issue of male infertility in a modern way
• App allowed men to test their sperm quality with their mobile phones.
• Seen system comes with a kit that includes a tiny lens that can affixed to a mobile phone.
• Kit became Amazon Japan's top selling in the health category
• 33% of men who used Seem sought medical treatment

The challenge

Recruit Lifestyle Co. wanted to highlight to issue of male infertility in a modern way.

The initiative was created to help the 1 in 6 married couples in Japan that suffer from infertility, while overcoming male assumptions that the problem lay with women and their own embarrassment about having sperm tested in a hospital.

Jiro Hayashi, creative director at Dentsu Y&R, talked to Campaign Japan about the promotional campaign: “The product is meaningful for couples suffering from infertility, but it’s just a test kit, so you still need to go to the hospital to get the right treatment. The goal of the communications is to encourage men to go to hospital earlier so they can shorten the time and cost needed for treatment. We are trying to shape a culture where infertility treatment is something couples should talk to each other about. Having a baby is one option, but after having a discussion, they may decide not to.”


The solution

The Seem app allowed men to test their sperm quality with their mobile phones.

The Seem system comes with a kit that includes a tiny lens that can affixed to a mobile phone.
Men put a drop of semen on the lens, and the app will shoot video of the sperm and analyse it for count, concentration and mobility.

Dentsu Y&R Tokyo also created the "The Family Way" short film promoting the system, along with a website.

The Family Way campaign was developed at Dentsu Y&R, Tokyo, by executive creative director Jiro Hayashi, creative director Yuki Fuse, art directors Tetsuya Ota and Shinichi Sasaki.

The result

The agency claims that the kit is now Amazon Japan's top selling in the health category and that 33% of men who have used Seen seek medical treatment.

Cannes Lions jury president Andy Hood, head of emerging technologies at AKQA U.K., said the choice to honor the Seem app embodied several trends happening in mobile these days.

These include the hacking of technologies for uses beyond what they were originally designed for, and also the continuing efforts to use creativity to address social problems in the world.

Creative people are looking at platforms and technologies finding ways to go deeper with them, Hood said. “They can find ways to even subvert the technology and use it to do something completely unexpected and unanticipated that the technology may not have even been designed for, or imagined for, in the first instance,” he said. “This is an aspiration that we celebrate, and we want to see more and more of.”

He was also inspired by the social causes embraced by many of the campaigns. “When you combine the aspiration and the ingenuity behind making the technology work for us, and you see that being used to address some of the world’s major issues, we all win,” he said.
The Grand Prix exemplifies this combination, he added.

“We’re very proud of our Grand Prix and the message it sends, in terms of the use of technology and the improvement this will make in the lives that it will touch,” he said.

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