CANNES, FRANCE: Another year, another disappointing haul for communications shops in the PR Lions at Cannes.
PR firms were once again overshadowed by their creative agency counterparts in the PR Lions, despite changes to the category, including moving it into the Reach segment. Only a handful of PR agencies were listed as the winning "entrant" or for "idea creation," recognizing them as the primary firm behind winning campaigns.
Stuart Smith, PR jury president and global leader of PR and influence at Ogilvy, noted that the percentage of entries submitted by communications shops has fallen over the past 10 years.
"It’s not just the number of entries," he said. "There are beautiful PR agencies that love what they do and who are not turning up."
PR firms also need to get more creative about entering their work across categories, noted jury member Denise Kaufmann, director of client development for North America at Ketchum.
"In terms of integration, PR firms need to get more aggressive about entering more work and looking across the categories, not necessarily thinking about it just as PR," she said. "The industry should be very proud. The work that is getting attention is in our sweet spot, and we need to own it -- it is public affairs, it is government relations, it is crisis and corporate reputation."
The lackluster showing for communications agencies in the PR category came months after industry leaders and Cannes executives praised the revamp of the category, including placing it under the Reach segment. The festival also amended its definition of PR, how it credits agencies for its Network of the Year award, and key information on entry forms, as well as other changes. "It’s about tightening the focus and realigning the Lions with the industry," Cannes Lions MD Jose Papa said in an op-ed last month.
Fleishman grabs the gold
The PR Grand Prix went to Trash Isles, a campaign for Plastic Oceans and LADbible by AMVBBDO in London. No PR credit was given for the Grand Prix-winning campaign.
The sole Gold Lion winner among PR agencies was FleishmanHillard New York for Turning Beer into Water for Anheuser-Busch, for which it also was awarded a Bronze Lion and media and PR credits. The campaign highlighted the brewer’s efforts to help victims of Hurricane Harvey by switching its production from beer to water.
"[Fleishman] won for a film about internal communications. They worked very hard at creating a community of people and communicating about it back to their employees," said Smith. "As well as recognizing the concern people felt for their colleagues and families, it was very effective as a call to action to get people to turn out on the weekends to put the factories back together. It was a brand responding to a massive societal disaster."
Edelman won a Silver Lion for its work on the Crock-Pot Killed Jack campaign for Newell Brands’ Crock-Pot, and was also awarded a PR credit for the effort. Cohn & Wolfe New York was given a production and additional credit for the campaign, which was created in response to viewer outrage after an overheating Crock-Pot killed a beloved TV character.
Ketchum won two Bronze Lions for the Prescribed to Death opioid addiction awareness and prevention campaign for the National Safety Council. The Omnicom Group firm was also awarded a PR credit for its work on the campaign.
Several agencies were recognized for PR support on Lion-winning ads.
- FleishmanHillard New York for Turning Beer into Water for Anheuser-Busch (Gold/Bronze)
- Freuds London for KFC "FCK" for KFC (Two Gold/One Silver)
- Edelman Dallas for KFC: 11 Herbs & Spices for KFC (Silver)
- Edelman Atlanta for Crock-Pot Killed Jack for Newell Brands (Silver)
- W Communications London for Project 84 for Calm (Two Silver/Bronze)
- FinchFactor Amsterdam for Uncensored Playlist for Reporters Without Borders (Silver)
- Emanate Munich for Loving "It" for Burger King (Silver/Bronze)
- Text100 Stockholm for We Are the Silver Spinners for Lenovo (Bronze)
- Weber Shandwick Paris for Bordeaux 2050 for AJE (Bronze)
- Dini von Mueffling Communications New York for Tomorrow’s News for Sandy Hook Promise (Bronze)
- Zeno Group New York for Hello Real People for Motorola (Bronze)
- Ketchum New York for Prescribed to Death for the National Safety Council (Two Bronze)
- FleishmanHillard Dublin for Dutch Masterjuices for Philips (Bronze)
- 3PM Agency for Stand by You for Budweiser (Bronze)