PBD Cannes Lions Round Up

PBD Cannes Lions Round Up

Residents of Cannes this year may perhaps have been more exposed to the weird and wonderful than usual. With the Euros, Brexit and what looked like the entire population of Shoreditch. Cannes larger influx of people then normal to their small coastal community certainly looked a sight to behold!

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is over once again for another year.  My Instagram has calmed down suitably after the sea of yellow and blue posts from the past week. Finally back to its normal 95% coverage of ‘swan’ adorned picture of flat whites.

For those not too familiar with the Cannes Lions, let me attempt to set the scene. Every year for 1 week in June ad-land gets even crazier than usual. Over 12,000 creatives pack up their 101.3% recycled duffle bags and load up those 95% vegan tote bags. Jetting off with the hope that they will come back with a coveted lion. Creative juices are flowing, and the wild and weird becomes the norm for 1 week.

Sounds great doesn’t it?

Except their aren’t 12,000 lions. No this pride of lions is small and endangered. Only the truly brilliant campaigns get to take a lion home. Unless you wanted a tattoo. This year DDB Tribal Berlin who won a bronze lion back in 2013 for their ‘Pedro’ spot for Volkswagen decided that everybody should get to take home a lion. Melting the lion down they created a tattoo ink for their pop up shop ‘Award Ink Studio’. All designs were accepted so long as it was a lion. Like I said, things get real at Cannes.

Following along from the equally tropical and star studded destination of Belfast while waiting for my own lion tattoo I debated three of my favourites.

1.#OptOutside, REI + VB+P

Claiming nine lions overall the campaign took one of this year’s biggest hauls.

‘Black Friday’ is an America wide sales bonanza that has in latter years become a global phenomenon. With 1000’s of stores and companies slashing prices it’s often hard for anyone to rise above the clamour of angry shoppers and credit card debit. In 2015 REI and agency VB&P decided to do something different. To say they did something different is putting it mildly. For any profit minded business they did the seemingly unthinkable- they shut up shop. Yes on America’s biggest shopping day, every single REI closed its door.

With their print and digital campaign. REI spread the campaign tagline and hashtag #OptOutside in advance of Black Friday to drive users to share their own experiences and images. REI paid all of their staff’s leave and encouraged them to take the day off and get outside. Word spread, and it quickly developed into a world wide trend- transforming the campaign. 

#OptOutside wasn’t just about Black Friday and one company’s decision to boycott it. It challenged your way of life. The choices you chose to make daily. Now almost a year on from its launch, the hashtag is still trending on social media.

For me this campaign is what advertising is all about. It is an idea that is completely relatable for all people. Asking the hard questions and hitting at the heart of the social epidemic of consumerism. It was an utter success. Raising awareness for the REI Brand and increasing sales, the campaign has had a transformative effect.


2.The Displaced, New York Times + Vrse

VR is the much acclaimed and lauded, ’big thing’ for the future. A technology that already has captured the attention of billions with the launch of Google Cardboard. Making waves across multiple industries, (you can currently sign up to buy a VR gym for your home at the special price of €12,000 Euro). Bargain. Even as I type this post there is an Oculus Rift sitting metres away from me.

New York Time’s and Vrse’s entry ‘The Displaced’ left me without words. For those who have yet to see it, borrow a Google Cardboard and watch all 11 minutes. Released last November as an accompaniment to a special edition of the New York Times. It tells the stories of 11 year old Oleg from Ukraine, 9 year old Chuol from Sudan and 12 year old Hana a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. Over the course of those 11 minutes, the children take us through their experience of displacement. Users experience every moment. Each head tilt reveals new views cementing us deeper in the stories.

On that Sunday 1 million subscribers received the special edition paper. Connecting users directly to the stories of these children. Heartbreaking and moving it solidifies the gravity of the situation. Hammering home that this is only a fraction of the 30 million that have been displaced by war. The simplicity and raw footage connecting us to the brand and the story in a way that no other medium could.

What I loved most about this winner of the Mobile Grand Prix is that it wasn’t even a marketing piece.

Vrse and the New York Times have set the bar. Showing us just what VR can do.

This marks a new age of story telling. One that will change fundamentally how this industry connects to our audience. Virtual Reality revolutionises the way in which we can now tell stories- immersing us completely. I am constantly dreaming of the amazing campaigns we can create for social impact, (seriously use the contact us details below).


3. The McWhopper, Burger King + Y&R New Zealand

The fact that I will forever remember the date 21.09.15 instantly shows the success of this campaign.

I don’t particularly enjoy McDonalds or Burger King, (Once you have had a Bunsen nothing else will do). However on this day I remember sitting with a bunch of creatives wondering what this ‘Holy Grail’ of burgers might resemble. Whose sauce would they use? What combination of patty’s? Importantly has anyone considered the sauce to bap equation? So many questions by the end of lunch and at least 5 hungry stomachs.

Taking home the grand prix in Print & Publishing for one very good reason. This simple print ad snowballed. Hijacking all other media and mediums as it went viral, generating a whopping 8.9 billon global impressions for the campaign and increasing awareness for Peace day by 40%. With the ‘McWhopper’, Burger King and Y&R show us what advertising is all about- bravery.

It’s the common theme that runs through all of these winners.

Great advertising takes bravery and teamwork. Neither the client nor the agency could have produced any of these without each other.

They showcase everything we love about our industry, guts, trust, respect and a willingness to try.


Jonny Agnew

Jonny is an Account Executive, brand planner, content creator and insight researcher.

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