As something of a Cannes virgin, I feel well and truly deflowered…and it’s only day 3. The lights, camera, action of the whole circus can leave you dazed and confused.
But in the whirl of parties, awards, parties, seminars, parties, there are moments of brilliance; listening to Vivian Westwood continuing to challenge the status quo and fight for justice, P Diddy talking about the power of truth and his hip hop roots, and Conan explaining how social media saved his career.
However, my highlight thus far has been the pleasure and privilege to judge the Cannes Effectiveness Lions. It’s been a delight to spend time with the illustrious jury, headed by legend Shelly Lazarus, chairman emeritus of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide. Fantastic to be on a jury which is over fifty percent women…something of a rarity amongst the other juries. The debate has been fair but impassioned, the global quality of thinking humbling and the resulting papers awarded showcase brilliant creative ideas which have brilliant business results.
I’d love to give a shout-out to a few of the Effectiveness Lions, before discussing the size and scale of the Grand Prix. First up is the innovative ‘Share a Coke’ idea for Coca-Cola from Ogilvy and Mather Sydney. A truly game changing idea to reengage a disenfranchised youth market, for whom Coke had lost its relevance. Rather than running ‘just another’ Open Happiness brand ad, O&M proposed putting the consumer at the heart of the brand and changing the hallowed ‘Coke’ branding to common Aussie names; Shaz, Brent and Daveo. We love the fact the idea slayed the holy cow of branding and packaging, putting the punter front and centre of the idea. The campaign has been so successful in Australia that it’s currently running in Ireland, Brazil and New Zealand and is being rolled-out in up to 30 markets worldwide. Truly a business changing campaign for one of the world’s biggest brands.
Next we’ve ‘Small Business Saturday’ for American Express by Crispin Porter Bogusky/Digitas New York. This idea has been successfully running for three years and has consistently grown in scale and stature. In 2011 the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution declaring November 26th to be Small Business Saturday, making it an official day. In 2012 shoppers spent $5.5 billion at independent merchants, and even President Obama championed the cause, taking his family to shop local and small that day. In just three years, this single annual event has helped transform the way America thinks about small business…an idea which has changed society.
The last honourable mention in dispatches goes to the long running John Lewis campaign by Adam and Eve DDB London. This brilliant campaign has transformed the fortunes of a British retailer, deep in the heart of a triple dip recession. Rather than defaulting to ‘shouty’ retail ads, the Client took the brave step of engaging emotionally rather than rationally with the UK public, with big, emotive ‘brand films’ around Christmas and the John Lewis brand line of ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’.
This risk has paid off spectacularly; the campaign is now part of the fabric of the nation, with each new film eagerly awaited, greedily devoured and positively discussed. The UK public didn’t just open their hearts to John Lewis, they also opened their wallets, with the campaign generating over $400 million in extra profit, leading to record sales and the highest market share for years. A truly remarkable achievement when so many UK retailers are struggling. This paper proved the indisputable power of big, beautiful and emotive television dominated communication to change hearts…along with the bottom line.
Finally to the Effectiveness Grand Prix…Heineken’s ‘Legendary Journey’ by Wieden and Kennedy Amsterdam. This campaign and its subsequent paper proved beyond a shadow of a doubt its ability to justify a significant premium the world over. The scale and reach of the campaign strategy, creative idea and execution is truly staggering. It created game-changing results in every market, from Poland to Brazil, Nigeria to the Netherlands, increasing market share in every country in which it ran. A singular and effective strategy, creative idea and execution is the ‘Holy Grail’ for any truly global brand. That is why Heineken deserved to win the coveted Grand Prix.
Another gratifying aspect of the awards were the number of Aussie and Kiwi papers on the long list, the short list and finally awarded. Really strong and effective work for two small markets, including the NRMA Insurance campaign from Whybin/TBWA Sydney and the ‘Believe’ Steinlager campaign by DDB Group New Zealand.
I surmise this is due to the lower barriers to entry in ANZ for our Clients…they can afford to take risks with groundbreaking ideas, in a way their colleagues in Europe and America can’t. It’s testament to the risks our Clients have taken, that these gambles have paid off with the quality of antipodean creative work and literally with return to the bottom line. Good on ya!
So…a canter through some of the fantastic ideas and business changing results we had the privilege to judge this week. Big thanks go to the brilliance of the minds behind the ideas, the rigour and thoroughness of the writers and the balls of the Clients to buy these paradigm-shifting campaigns.