Irish creative agency Rothco awarded Cannes Lions Grand Prix

Firm wins award for second time for playlist aimed at helping children with speech therapy

Irish creative agency Rothco has been awarded a second Cannes Lions Grand Prix at this year's event.

The company, which is part of Accenture Interactive, won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Creative Data for its Saylists campaign with Warner Music.

It is the second time the company has won the award – which recognises and celebrates the use of creativity to make a positive impact on businesses and society – picking up the award for the first time in 2018 for the JFK Unsilenced campaign for the Times.

Warner Music and Rothco curated targeted playlists on Apple Music aimed at helping children with speech therapy.


The Saylists, which include tracks by Dua Lipa, Lizzo and Fatboy Slim, are designed to augment speech therapy for children by helping with the repetition of difficult words, phrases and syllables in a more fun and engaging way. The lists are centred around challenging speech sounds, such as “ch”, “k” and “s”.

Researchers initially decided to create eight playlists, using an algorithm that helped identify songs with repetition of certain syllables and sounds. The group worked with speech and language therapist Anna Biavati-Smith on the project.

The award makes Rothco the first creative agency to win two awards in the Creative Data Lions.

Zara Flynn, managing director at Rothco, Accenture Interactive, said it was "phenomenal" for the agency and a proud moment for the team behind the project. "We are the most awarded agency in the world in that category. We're the only agency to win two grand prix," she said. "It's a relatively new category, about six or seven years old, but it is phenomenal. It speaks to how we set ourselves up and how we future proofed our agency. We have so many skill sets under our roof. When you bring all those member together to try to solve a problem, you come up with so many different types of solutions."

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity awards were held online this year due to the pandemic and covered two years’ worth of entries from all over the world.

The Rothco team is determined to make it a hat-trick in the coming years. “We’re using this year’s non-presence to motivate us to get there again next year,” Ms Flynn said.

The Lions award is the latest recogntion for Saylists, with the agency picking up one silver and four bronze awards from the One Show last month, and six D&AD Pencils, picking up three wood and three graphite.

"This truly was a labour of love for the team, with several members themselves growing up with speech and sound disorders," said Alan Kelly, chief creative officer of Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive. "Saylists has been enthusiastically welcomed around the world, but most important was the incredible response from the speech and language community. We're over the moon about the Grand Prix and how this award recognises using technology to augment the experience of speech-language therapy in a fun and engaging way."

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist