Humanitarian and purpose-driven campaigns come to fore in PR Lions shortlist

Two senior PR network executives have told PRWeek they see a trend towards recognition for purpose-driven and humanitarian work at the PR Lions - but they also noted the lack of data and insight entries in today's shortlist for the prizes, and the jury's view of the value of earned media.

The UN Global Goals campaign, which was supported by Freuds, is one of various humanitarian projects on the PR Lions shortlist
The UN Global Goals campaign, which was supported by Freuds, is one of various humanitarian projects on the PR Lions shortlist

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Weber Shandwick, including Swedish subsidiary Prime, led the way for PR agencies among the 239 shortlisted entries among 42 categories in the PR Lions.

Gail Heimann, president of Weber and a previous chair of the PR Lions jury, spoke to PRWeek Global's editorial director Steve Barrett in Cannes this morning (see audio file above).

She said: "It looks like difference-making, purpose-driven work gets a high level of focus, and similarly - as we saw the other night awarded in the Health Lions - a lot of gender-orientated work pushing the boundaries... that seems to be a bit of a theme here."

Ketchum's North America CEO Barri Rafferty, North America CEO at Ketchum, said: "Reviewing the list, the majority of shortlisted campaigns seem to come from integrated concepts and focus on today’s humanitarian issues."

Among the campaigns with humanitarian purpose are Freuds' work with the UN Global Goals, Engine's Missing Type blood donor drive in the UK, Argentine breast cancer awareness campaign Manboobs, We Believers' Edible Six Pack Rings, the Legally Bride campaign by Leo Burnett Beirut against child brides, and the campaign Ladyballs for Ovarian Cancer Canada.

Heimann went on to say she was surprised that only two entries made the shortlist for research, data analytics and insight generation. She said: "With all the focus on data that seems to be a little bit surprising when you’d think that we’d see more there."

She said that the shortlist again presented what was a "recurrent theme" of traditional ad agencies appearing on the shortlist rather than PR firms, but also welcomed the fact that a number of entries came from less obvious countries such as Costa Rica, Romania and states in the Middle East.

She said the nominations for Weber and Prime were testament to "the increasing integration we’re seeing across our organisation with Prime that we’re consistently focused on pushing our creative work forward".

Rafferty commented: "While this year’s PR criteria focuses on sway, they don’t seem to include as part of that the value of earned media and influence. As we know using the right creative, tapping influencers and creating billions of impressions can drive sales and change behaviour.

"PR firms are having a big impact for our clients and I would like to see that get greater recognition at Cannes."

The PR Lions will be presented tomorrow (Tuesday).

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