Leo Burnett Sydney’s attempt to unite Indians and Pakistanis with a vending machine is the most divisive in Cannes, hailed by some and derided as ”utterly exploitative” by others.
The Small World Machines activation for Coca-Cola is stirring a debate on whether the agency is right to use the brand’s clout to try and heal the ancient rifts, or if they are just using the opportunity as a PR stunt which could cause long-term damage.
So far it has amassed nine Lions in the first two days, including three Gold.
However, it missed out completely in the Promotion and Activation despite being the most nominated Aussie campaign, with jury president Rob Schwartz quipping there was “vending machine fatigue” in that category, but added “that’s not why that had issues”.
TBWA’s global creative president told B&T: “It created quite a bit of debate about whether this was about real life problems, or to win Cannes.
“There was one half of the room who thought it was good brands were stepping in because politicians can only get so far. Then there was the other half of the room who felt it was utterly exploitative, insulting and demeaning to the cause.
“Some had a real point of view that it's not Coke’s place to solve the peace process. Ironically this is a campaign about unity is actually being incredibly divisive.”
M&C Saatchi’s ECD Ben Welsh said there was also debate on the Outdoor jury, and said the trend may lead to brands “claiming results that didn’t have anything to do with your work”.
“That conflict has been thawing for a while, they play cricket against each other, it’s not like they’re at war,” he added. “But it's a great expression of the ‘Happiness’ program.”