Ad agency takes top PR prize

Last night was the first Cannes Lions award ceremony of 2010. It also marked the second year PR Lions were awarded.

Last night was the first Cannes Lions award ceremony of 2010. It also marked the second year PR Lions were awarded.

Since arriving, I've anxiously anticipated this event and the chance to see great PR campaigns from agencies around the world. As I began sifting through the Lions short list in the morning, my excitement was tempered. I found myself asking the question many in the PR industry are now pondering: Why the low number of submissions by PR agencies?

The Cannes Lions committee noted that there was a 32% increase this year in PR entries. Yet many of the PR campaigns were submitted by non-PR agencies. Even more curious: the PR campaign that received the Grand Prix was actually submitted by an ad agency!

A little fact-checking showed that the ad agency says it created the campaign, called Replay, for Gatorade. Replay, which gives athletes a “second chance” to replay a game from their past where they had hoped for a different outcome, is a truly brilliant campaign and the best of the evening. But, when you see the video of the program, it is clear that a PR firm – or someone with PR knowledge – played a significant role in executing the campaign.

We all know that big creative ideas can come from anywhere and that the most effective campaigns are integrated from inception to execution. However, it does not seem right that an ad agency claimed the PR prize of the night. 

Would it not have been more fair to include a notation that the campaign was submitted by ad agency “X” and executed by PR agency “Y?” Or why didn't the PR agency and the ad agency work together to produce the submission?

Paul  Taaffe, PR jury chair for the Cannes Lions and Hill & Knowlton's chairman and CEO, stated that the jurors did not know the names of the companies who had submitted the entries. This is a fair system, but you have to wonder how the judges may have reacted had they known they were awarding a PR prize to an ad agency.

The time has come to take the concept of agency integration to a new level. We integrate our work with other expert agencies all the time. Why not take it to the finish line and submit joint entries, which benefits both clients and agencies? Seems like a fair and winning approach to me!

Diana Littman Paige is the MD of the health and well-being practice at Marina Maher Communications.

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