Cannes 2016: 10 PR Lions gold winners we like

From raising the taboo subject of 'leftover women' in China to revealing with the help of bees how sugar is hidden in everyday food, we look back at the best campaigns 2016's PR Lions in Cannes had to offer.

The Bulletpen
Country Colombia
Agency McCann Colombia
Client Ministry of National Education, Colombia

As a symbolic gesture to focus media attention on the positive things brought about by peace, this takes some beating. For the signing of the peace agreement between FARC rebels and the Colombian government, signalling the end to almost six decades of conflict, pens were made out of bullets with the slogan: "Bullets marked our past, education will write our future." The pens were distributed to journalists and other opinion leaders, including the Colombian president, and many used them to draw a positive image of the future.

Results The campaign gained coverage across the world, from America to Asia.

Pocket Money – Equal Future
Country Australia
Agency TBWA Melbourne
Client ANZ

This campaign for Australian and New Zealand banking group ANZ was a simple but effective demonstration of the gender pay gap. To mark International Women’s Day, children were asked to carry out household chores where the girls were paid less than the boys. It featured their reactions when asked if they thought it was fair.

Results The campaign claimed a total reach of 1.5 billion people in 93 countries, with the hashtag #equalfuture trending on Twitter.

Marriage Market Takeover
Country Sweden
Agency Forsman & Bodenfors Gothenburg
Client SK-II

With Chinese women facing immense pressure to marry before they reach 27 and become ‘Sheng Nu’ (‘leftover women’), skincare brand SK-II filmed at a Chinese ‘marriage market’, where parents look for a spouse for their child, and encouraged women to be open and positive about singledom. The campaign took the brand’s Change Destiny slogan and gave it new, heartfelt meaning and encouraged discussion of a taboo subject in China.

Results The video had 25 million views and 6.5 million social interactions, and led to 1,600 editorial articles in 54 countries. It was the first campaign to make it to the top 10 trending list on microblogging site Weibo.

Van Gogh BNB
Country US
Agency Leo Burnett Chicago
Client Art Institute of Chicago

To publicise a van Gogh exhibition at the institute, a real-life version of the artist’s room – as depicted in its post-impressionistic glory in one of his paintings – was constructed. People were able to book it for a night via Airbnb. An intriguing story and the clever use of a ‘buzz’ brand like Airbnb helped propel this ingenious idea and get people talking across the world.

Results The $31,000 (£23,000) investment generated an earned media value of $6m (£4.5m) as the story was picked up in around 100 countries within a week. With more than 200,000 visitors, the exhibition was the institute’s most attended for 15 years.

Purity Test
Country Romania
Agency Cohn and Jansen  J Walter Thompson Bucharest
Client Valvis Holding

To publicise the problem of the reportedly damaging nitrate content in Romanian water supplies, water brand Aqua Carpatica – billed as having the lowest nitrate content in the country – distributed paper strips in supermarkets that let people test how much nitrate is in their tap water. People were urged to post the result online as a guide for people in their area.

Results Romanian celebrities and more than 100 bloggers took part in the campaign, which generated more than 560 mentions. The Facebook page had more than one million fans. Overall, tap water in more than 1,600 regions in the country was tested. Sales of Aqua Carpatica subsequently grew 40 per cent.

The Last Mask
Country Colombia
Agency J Walter Thompson Colombia
Client Natalia Ponce de León Foundation

Colombian acid attack victim Natalia Ponce de León helped persuade her government to introduce 50-year jail sentences for aggressors, but attacks continued and perpetrators were not pursued. To urge greater commitment to the law, and encourage better health provisions, she made a powerful gesture involving the nation’s media directly.

At a press conference, she removed her distinctive mask for the last time, and asked the media to wear it "so no other Colombian would". More than 1,000 people did so, including journalists, TV hosts, bloggers, musicians, athletes and even Hollywood actor Susan Sarandon. Senior politicians also took part.

Results The campaign was judged to have led to US$1m (£0.75m) of earned media (traditional and social) in two weeks. The police committed to create squads to pursue acid attackers, while hospitals increased specialist training. The government also introduced gun-style regulations on acid sales.

Country Argentina
Agency David Buenos Aires
Client MACMA

Breast cancer awareness charity MACMA wanted to demonstrate to women the best way to perform self-examinations via a shareable online video, but censorship rules meant women’s breasts could not be shown. The answer? Use a pair of ‘manboobs’. The ingenious campaign not only circumvented nudity rules, it used them to encourage conversations about both breast cancer and internet censorship.

Results One week after its debut, the video had more than 40 million views and had been shared 700,000 times, delivering earned media worth US$17m (£12.8m).

Bees Can Find Sugar Where You Least Expect It
Country Czech Republic
Agency McCann Erickson Prague
Client Nas Grunt

To publicise the benefits of eating foods that contain no added sugar, ‘bio grocery’ chain Nas Grunt wanted to show people the surprising amount of sugar contained in everyday food items. A video explained that bees can create honey from anything containing 15 per cent sugar – then showed the insects making honey from hamburgers, ketchup, instant soup and more.

Results Store visits grew 10 per cent following the campaign, with web traffic up 30 per cent as the media coverage reached 3.9 million people. More generally, it sparked a national debate about hidden sugar.

The House of Clicks
Country Sweden
Agency Prime Stockholm (part of Weber Shandwick)
Client Hemnet

Search data from property website Hemnet, including the number and size of rooms, was used to create a blueprint of Swedes’ ‘ideal home’, and translated into a real-life 1.5 storey ‘House of Clicks’. Based on data from more than 200 million clicks, the campaign was a great example of using ‘big data’ creatively, fuelling conversations and positioning Hemnet as an innovator in its field.

Results The campaign achieved a total reach of 218 million from 207 articles in ‘elite media’, plus more than 10,000 mentions on social media. More than 460,000 unique visitors clicked on the website – and 648 people applied to buy the house within weeks.

SL Benfica Safety Demonstration
Country Portugal
Agency O Escritorio
Client SL Benfica, Emirates

Before kick-off at a match at Portuguese football side Benfica, a group of Emirates air hostesses performed a mock ‘safety demonstration’ in front of the 65,000-strong crowd. Advice included how to raise scarves in the event of a goal and putting mobile phones away in order to cheer the team. It was a humorous and inventive way to exploit the sponsorship and get people talking about Emirates.

Results The video had 27 million online views, including 930,000 interactions, and it was shared 300,000 times. It was said to have an organic reach of 50 million.


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