Big Mac 50th Anniversary
- Brand: McDonald’s
- Idea creation: Golin
- PR: Golin
- Awards: PR Gold & Silver Lions
An earned media-only program celebrating Big Mac turning 50. Sales were flat and it was losing relevance among younger audiences. Brand challenge was to turn the 50th anniversary into a global cultural moment and reinvigorate sales.
The Big Mac is so ubiquitous The Economist uses it to measure the purchasing power of 48 international currencies every year with its annual Big Mac Index.
Introduce MacCoin currency, the world’s first fully food-backed global currency, each worth one Big Mac. Mint 6.2 million MacCoins with five designs in seven languages celebrating five decades of Big Mac. Distribute MacCoins to over 50 countries to be shared, collected or redeemed for a free Big Mac.
Provide a custom global marketing toolkit for each country to craft a culturally relevant activation plan. Debut a global piece of content shared in every participating country, showing the MacCoin being minted and traveling through countries across the globe.
New Zealand, Chile, Portugal and Puerto Rico drove MacCoin-themed trucks cross-country distributing the coins. Argentina kicked off a professional soccer match by flipping a MacCoin. China held a press conference attended by hundreds of media and fans to unveil the new global currency. On launch day in the U.S., MacCoin made The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and Alexa talked about it in her daily briefing. The UK and Australia didn’t participate but were near the top of media coverage charts. MacCoin then launched in-restaurant so customers could get their hands on them.
- MacCoin generated a 6% increase in Big Mac sales week over week in thousands of restaurants around the world.
- In the U.S., Big Mac sales increased 40%, almost $2 million in incremental sales, selling over 400,000 additional Big Macs on the first day.
- In New Zealand, total comparative sales increased 5.6% and guest counts 0.6% — Big Mac sales rose 21%.
- China’s 1.2 million MacCoins went in three hours and 300,000 Big Mac meals were sold in one day.
- Big Mac sales in Canada increased 7% during activation week.
- Social mentions were more than double the previous top-performing McDonald’s global activation — 95% of conversation and coverage was positive or neutral. More than 4,000 global traditional media placements were secured.
- MacCoin secured more social mentions than three quick-service restaurant competitors’ 2018 crypto/Bitcoin campaigns. Burger King was moved to launch a new limited-time burger.
A genuinely global earned media-led campaign spearheaded by a PR firm that resulted in significant extra sales of Big Macs and reinvigorated a tired brand. A just reward that built on the campaign’s Best Global Effort and Best in Product Brand Development success at the PRWeek U.S. Awards this March.
The People's Seat
- Brand: United Nations
- Idea creation: Grey London
- PR: Whalar London
- Awards: PR Gold & Silver Lions
Highlight the message that the UN was inviting the world to have its say at the COP24 climate change conference. A People’s Seat persuaded leaders to act through the power of global community engagement.
People agree with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in principle but find them confusing and difficult to navigate. Lack of engagement was symptomatic of a wider disconnect with the UN, which needed to re-engage people to help meet the SDGs with just 12 years to act before climate damage becomes irreversible.
Create a movement that gives the world a voice through The People’s Seat — a new physical seat at the UN. The seat enabled people to share their views with world leaders when important decisions are being made. The People’s Address is a speech written by the people, crowd-sourced through #TakeYourSeat — delivered at UN conferences where The People’s Seat is present.
The People’s Seat launch video featured Sir David Attenborough and invited people to use #TakeYourSeat to be heard, distributed via UN social channels and a global network of influencers. Launch assets were distributed to print titles and an exclusive interview with Attenborough was secured on BBC News.
Phase one included the launch and The People’s Address at COP24. The Attenborough interview also aired on in 200 countries via the BBC’s international World Service and BBC World News. Using a global network of influencers, #TakeYourSeat was promoted across social media and content was gathered from communities around the world. Phase two maximized the impact of Attenborough’s speech and drew attention to COP24. The speech was live-streamed on Facebook and further interviews were conducted by key broadcasters including BBC, CNN, CCTV (Chinese TV), Sky and Reuters.
- 1.3 billion people saw proof of their voices being heard by world leaders at the UN.
- The story became headline news in over 200 countries; almost half of Christiane Amanpour’s show was dedicated to The People’s Seat.
- Over 1,600 articles and 500 pieces of broadcast news covered The People’s Seat globally, including Fox News.
- The campaign was referenced by the U.K. Prime Minister and in the Australian Parliament.
- The launch video received 9.3 million impressions on Facebook, seen by over 7 million people for 10 seconds or more.
- Over 500,000 people watched the speech live.
- @UNFCCC gained over 25,000 followers during COP24 (versus 2,000 during COP23 in 2017).
- Influencer outreach resulted in 128,000 people participating in social polls across Instagram and Twitter.
- Within two weeks of the live address, a 156-page rulebook putting the Paris Agreement promises to work was agreed upon by nearly 200 countries.
Another truly global campaign that involved smart use of media relations and influencers to raise awareness of a crucial issue. It reengaged people with the UN and persuaded 196 countries (though not the U.S.) to sign a Katowice summit accord committing to plans for a common carbon-cutting rulebook.
- Brand: O.N.E
- Idea Creation: Rothco | Accenture Interactive, Dublin
- PR: Rothco | Accenture Interactive, Dublin
- Awards: PR Silver Lion/Brand Experience & Activation Silver Lion/Outdoor Bronze Lion
Homeless charity O.N.E. transformed the Irish flag into the universal symbol of homelessness — the sleeping bag — to create Sleeping Flags to raise awareness of the plight of homeless Defence Forces veterans in Ireland.
In Ireland, hundreds of Defence Forces veterans end up homeless, due to a lack of official support and public recognition of their service to the country. It was time to shock the public into caring and end this disconnect through a shared pride in the Irish flag.
The protocols around the representation and treatment of the Irish flag are very strict. O.N.E. decided to break protocol by taking Ireland’s iconic Tricolour flag and transforming it into a sleeping bag used by veterans outside landmark buildings around Ireland. This shocking, shameful combination forced the public to consider what mattered more to them — the flag, or those who gave everything for it.
Rather than targeting a particular demographic, Sleeping Flags captured the attention of patriotic Irish individuals and institutions with an appeal film, portraits of homeless veterans and O.N.E. staff and key statistics around their work with homeless veterans.
Sleeping Flags launched February 11, 2019, with embargoed media packs sent to major media outlets and key publishers the day before. Veterans took to the streets in Sleeping Flags, sleeping in the shadow of iconic buildings chosen for their historical significance and symbolism. An Irish influencer known for activism and social commentary tweeted a single image of a veteran in one of the bags. This quickly spread, generating a huge amount of debate and conversation. The following morning O.N.E. claimed ownership of the act and released a follow-up documentary appeal online explaining the urgent need for this action.
- The campaign was covered by every national TV, radio station and newspaper in Ireland, with homeless veterans and O.N.E. staff interviewed on major current affairs and chat shows.
- Within 48 hours of the campaign launch, O.N.E. received a 4,560% increase in donations versus the previous year.
- Sleeping Flags caused the welfare of veterans to be raised in the Irish Parliament and the government donated a new building to O.N.E. and €200,000 to transform it into an additional hostel.
- O.N.E. was able to expand its services and keep more homeless veterans off the streets of Ireland.
A powerful campaign that stemmed from a clever insight and resulting creative execution that tapped into a sensitive topic in Ireland and produced real change in terms of government action and extra funding. It used smart media relations and a key influencer to launch activity that enabled a homeless charity to provide extra accommodation and keep veterans off the streets.
- Brand: Discover Puerto Rico
- Idea creation: Ketchum, New York
- PR: Ketchum, New York
- Award: PR Silver Lion
On the anniversary of the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean island needed to flip the negative anniversary script and communicate the message that it was open for business again and was once again a top travel destination.
Media coverage of the disaster portrayed an island with no electricity, a broken infrastructure and a mounting death toll, virtually wiping out Puerto Rico’s crucial tourism economy. Research of past natural disasters showed 90% of anniversary coverage was negative. It was time to flip the negative anniversary script.
One of the most haunting images during the week of the hurricane was an S.O.S. sign painted on a street intersection in storm-ravaged Humacao to alert passing aircraft to residents’ dire situation. The turnaround idea was to go back to the same intersection, gather residents and paint a very different message — instead of S.O.S., it would say Bienvenidos! (Welcome!) #CoverTheProgress!
PR challenged the media to #CoverTheProgress instead of the hurricane’s destruction. The rallying cry #CoverTheProgress demanded fair, forward-looking coverage of Puerto Rico’s tourism industry, its recovery process and the resilient people whose economic future was at stake.
A toolkit of visual content to inspire media to #CoverTheProgress was created, including stark before and after imagery of popular Island tourism spots, new video footage, latest tourism data, visitor testimonials and images of local tourism industry members holding #CoverTheProgress signs. One month before the anniversary, #CoverTheProgress launched and the new visual featured on CNN — the outlet that first released the S.O.S. image. Travel, consumer lifestyle and hard news outlets were pitched. Local businesses, travel industry partners, hotels and airlines shared images of recovery, and 100+ travel influencers and media associates highlighted #CoverTheProgress.
- #CoverTheProgress dramatically influenced media coverage of the island and revived its tourism economy.
- 70% of coverage was positive, compared to the usual 10% of natural disaster first anniversary coverage. Media declared Puerto Rico "Open for Business" and "facilities better than ever."
- Positive conversation surrounding Puerto Rico tourism grew from 50% in July to 80% post-anniversary in December.
- "Puerto Rico named #1 place to go in 2019" (New York Times)
- Twenty-two leading international travel and lifestyle media recommended Puerto Rico as one of their top 2019 travel destinations.
- Major travel agent groups saw a 12% Y-O-Y increase in upcoming vacation package sales.
- Airlines, cruise ships and hotels added capacity. Four more major cruise ship lines than before now stop in Puerto Rico.
A classic earned media effort built on a smart insight and creative idea resulted in a massive turnaround in media sentiment and positive coverage that produced groundbreaking results in terms of returning visitors and the revival of Puerto Rico’s tourism following a horrific natural disaster. The activation also looped in influencers and local stakeholders to reinforce the messaging.
Keeping Fortnite Fresh
- Brand: Wendy’s
- Idea creation: VMLY&R, Kansas City
- PR: Ketchum, New York
- Awards: Social & Influencer Grand Prix & Silver Lion/Entertainment Gold & Silver Lions/Media Gold & Bronze Lions/Brand Experience & Activation Silver Lion/Entertainment Lions for Sport - 2 Silver Lions
Wendy’s inserted itself in the incredibly popular online video game Fortnite as a player to reinforce the burger chain’s brand messaging that its beef is fresh and never frozen, recruiting other gamers along the way to join its quest to smash the in-game burger restaurant’s freezers where it stored its meat.
Wendy’s core young consumer segment is revolutionizing the ways entertainment is produced and consumed. Through online streaming platform Twitch, Fortnite has grown from a video game to a cultural hub for 12- to 24-year-olds. This audience is creating entertainment for itself, avoids traditional advertising and is skeptical of brands entering its space.
Wendy’s went beyond in-game logos or billboards and played, blurring the line between brand and influencer. When Fortnite introduced a new game mode called Food Fight, proponents of the universe’s two restaurants — Durr Burger and Pizza Pit — could represent Team Burger or Team Pizza. Wendy’s noticed Durr Burger stored its virtual beef in freezers. It entered the fight on the side of Team Pizza, with the objective of eliminating all burger freezers from the game.
Wendy’s tweeted it would be streaming Fortnite live on Twitch and began playing the game as a character with red hair and pigtails (just like its logo), taking the burger chain to a platform where its audience was and where no brand had gone before. Wendy’s changed the way the game was played while the audience watched and joined in to help spread the message that fresh beef beats frozen beef.
Wendy’s played for nine hours and streamed its destruction of all beef-laden freezers. It was playing the game wrong by only destroying virtual freezers instead of other gamers, which was noticed by gamers and Twitch streamers. Players and top influencers such as KingRichard joined the mission and also began destroying freezers.
- Wendy’s time destroying in-game freezers amassed more than 1.5 million minutes watched.
- The Twitch stream was viewed live more than a quarter of a million times and mentions of Wendy’s increased 119% across social platforms.
- Twitch created a highlight reel of Wendy’s destroying Fortnite freezers and tens of thousands of gamers joined the mission to destroy burger freezers in their own gameplay, documenting it in user-generated content.
- Game developers eventually removed the in-game burger freezers from Fortnite.
This was a genuinely innovative execution that tapped into modern youth culture to insert itself into the audience’s world in a credible and creative manner. The case study is light on real sales results, but the cultural impact within such a high-profile game, where brands are treated with suspicion, was truly exceptional.
The Whopper Detour
- Brand: Burger King
- Idea creation: FCB, New York
- PR: Alison Brod Marketing + Communications
- Awards: Titanium Grand Prix/Direct Grand Prix, 2 Gold Lions & Silver Lion/Mobile Grand Prix & Gold Lion/Media - 2 Gold Lions/Brand Experience & Activation Silver & Bronze Lions/Creative eCommerce Silver Lion
Whopper Detour targeted the fast-growing mobile ordering burger consumer through location-based ads and an app promotion that took particular aim at McDonald’s customers, persuading them to switch to Burger King.
In 2015, only 11% of fast-food consumers placed an order using a mobile app, compared to nearly 40% in 2018. By 2020, mobile ordering is poised to generate $38 billion in sales. Burger King was late to the game and McDonald’s has twice as many restaurants in the U.S. It needed to do something radical to garner attention, engage consumers and get them to download the chain’s app.
Burger King exploited its biggest competitor’s advantage by turning McDonald’s into touch points for its campaign. It invited consumers to purchase a 1-cent Whopper that could only be ordered "at" McDonald’s through the new BK App. Burger King geo-fenced 14,000 McDonald’s stores and if a user was within 600 feet, the BK App unlocked the promotion. Once the order was placed, the app navigated them to the nearest Burger King for pickup.
Millennials and Gen Z consumers grew up with tech, so getting real estate on their phones is key for Burger King’s long-term strategy. They don’t watch linear TV and are skeptical of marketing. They don’t visit Burger King as often as their parents and don’t think it’s particularly cool. The promo activation exploited the social nature of trolling and gamified the redemption experience by tapping into burger culture and the subversive nature of secret menus.
The nine-day Whopper Detour mobile app nationwide promotion unlocked at over 14,000 geo-fenced McDonald’s restaurants. It primarily leveraged social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram); targeted digital display through Foursquare and Waze; and high-impact guerrilla out-of-home placements and a full-page New York Post print ad.
- Burger King saw its highest foot traffic in over four years, tripling mobile sales during the Whopper Detour promo and generating results 40x bigger than its historical digital promos.
- The app was downloaded 1.5 million times and there was an 818% increase in Twitter mentions for the brand.
- Whopper Detour grew Burger King’s mobile customer base by a third and led to an increase of $15 million in projected annual sales.
- Burger King's app sales have also doubled since the promotion.
Geo-fencing is not revolutionary as a marketing tool, but it was certainly used effectively in this case, allied to effective exposition via social and traditional media that solved a big business problem for Burger King and established a strong foundation for it to play in the burgeoning mobile commerce space and attract younger consumers.
Viva La Vulva
- Brand: Libresse
- Idea creation: AMV BBDO, London
- PR: Ketchum, London
- Awards: Titanium Lion/Creative Strategy Gold & Silver Lions/Film - 2 Gold Lions/Glass - The Lion for Change Gold Lion/Health & Wellness Gold & Silver Lions/Film Craft 2 Silver & 1 Bronze Lions/Film Silver Lion/Entertainment Bronze Lion
Essity had expanded its Libresse brand from its roots in period care into a broader offering of products for women’s intimate care. It decided to explode myths about the perfect vulva via a lip-sync music video distributed on social media to help it establish the brand in a fast-growing segment.
Intimate care is the fastest-growing segment in feminine care globally, with solid historical players and many new entrants, but it was still surrounded by a cycle of shame and objectification, fueled by porn culture. There is an unhealthy quest for the perfect vagina, with almost half of women embarrassed by their vulva — labiaplasty is the fastest-growing cosmetic surgery in the world.
Viva La Vulva blew up the myth of the perfect vulva through a lip-sync music video that shows vulvas of every shape and color singing to the women who love them. Set to the iconic feminist self-love anthem "Take Yo’ Praise" by Camille Yarbrough, it brought the vulva to life. It subverted dozens of taboos and showed women opening up about the issue and reclaiming their bodies.
Historical prudery and censorship around women’s genitals and the recent explosion of porn pressured young women to believe their genitals should look a particular way: the myth of the perfect vulva. The intimate care category enforced these taboos — many women bought and used the products in shame. The Viva La Vulva video smashed these preconceptions and engaged.
The video portrayed female genitalia in many different ways, from oysters to purses to sock puppets, grapefruits and medieval hallways, even a singing camel toe and a Barbie doll. The film was unveiled with zero paid media support and took off organically on social media. Initially, it was released in Sweden and Denmark in Scandinavia, but it was praised around the world, from the U.S. to the U.K. to India.
- The campaign achieved an immediate sales uplift at launch, meeting or surpassing targets with products Libresse had never sold before.
- Five weeks after launch, Libresse wipes’ market share reached 33%.
- The film quickly reached over 5 million organic views and 96% positive comments on social.
This campaign took on a very difficult topic in a direct and straightforward way to demolish stereotypes around female genitalia and help women recognize that every vulva is different — and that’s totally OK. It also helped Libresse enter a new segment and establish itself quickly in terms of sales and awareness. It was bold work that achieved its aims.
- Brand: AB InBev, Bud Light
- Idea creation: 3PM (Weber Shandwick & PMK-BNC)
- PR: 3PM (Weber Shandwick & PMK-BNC)
- Award: PR Bronze Lion/Entertainment Lions for Sport Bronze Lion
An earned media-only program celebrating the loyalty of Cleveland Browns fans after the 2016-17 season ended with one victory. Bud Light placed bright orange, smart tech connected refrigerators stocked with limited edition Bud Lights in bars across Cleveland until the Browns secured a victory in the 2018 season. The brand challenge was to get the media to start talking about bottom standing teams.
Browns fans stayed hopeful they could finally secure a win in 2018. Bud Light saw an opportunity to honor the Cleveland faithful, and build anticipation for the team's long overdue victory. For five straight weeks, national media attention shifted to bottom teams from top-standing teams.
Bud Light is the official sponsor of the NFL and this activation gave the brand the chance to honor die-hard fans and give them a memorable celebration when the Browns finally won. "Instagram-worthy" Victory Fridges stocked with limited edition Bud Lights were placed in popular bars Cleveland-wide.
The Victory Fridges allowed Bud Light to rally Browns fans in anticipation of a win. The program kicked off during preseason to maximize visibility. The eye-catching Victory Fridges were accessorized with WiFi-enabled locks, so they could be remotely unlocked the moment the Browns won. Smaller-scale Victory Fridges were also made and sent to Browns influencers to bolster fan excitement.
During pre-season, Bud Light enlisted two former Browns legends to deliver the first Victory Fridge to a well-known Cleveland sports bar. Soon after, additional fridges were delivered city-wide where fans could cheer on their team while also anticipating a victory and free Bud Light. Ambassadors and media were onsite during every game, prepared for the time the chains would finally drop from the fridge. When the long-awaited win finally happened, Bud Light tweeted, "Cleveland, the @Browns won. The fridges are open. Go celebrate with a Bud Light. You’ve earned it." Celebrations ensued in Cleveland and nationwide.
- From the moment Victory Fridges were introduced during pre-season, to the Browns’ highly anticipated week three win, Bud Light dominated local and national conversation - more than five weeks of sustained media coverage.
- After 635 days in the making, the Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets, allowing Browns fans to enjoy a celebratory free Bud Light.
- Even the Browns’ winning quarterback, Baker Mayfield, was eager to hear updates about the status of the Victory Fridges, asking, live, during the nationally televised post-game press conference: "Did they open the Bud Light things yet?"
- The campaign attracted 1,057 media stories.
- This visibility translated into sales. Beyond the free celebratory beer given away when the Browns won, the company sold nearly 500,000 additional Bud Lights year over year in Cleveland.
- Wholesaler and consumer excitement about Bud Light continues in-market and nationally.
A national earned media-led campaign guided by a PR firm resulted in more than five weeks of sustained media coverage and increased sales for Bud Light. The campaign's success in Cannes built on its PRWeek Awards wins in the Creative Excellence and Promotional Event categories.
- Brand: Burger King
- Idea creation: MullenLowe
- PR: MullenLowe
- Award: PR Silver Lion
An earned media-only program engaging in the conversation around the President of the United States spelling "hamburgers" incorrectly in a tweet. Since POTUS was referring to Burger King’s Whopper, the brand leaned on social strategy and composed a tweet that allowed it to turn a political moment into a pop culture moment.
POTUS’ Twitter account is one of the most popular and covered Twitter feeds, so Burger King’s objective was to enter the conversation in a neutral manner that would grab the internet’s attention.
The idea behind Burger King’s tweet was to drive banter, not only with its target audience but also the whole internet, and leverage the trending conversation by making the political moment into a pop culture moment.
Anytime POTUS tweets, thousands of people comment and analyze his posts. Burger King’s strategy was to compose a tweet in a nonpartisan manner to generate the most engagement and little backlash.
Burger King tweeted from its U.S. Twitter account, and this was then shared by users all over social media. The tweet was composed in such a way that it would reach a larger audience because of the person it was referencing. The brand inserted itself into the conversation surrounding POTUS’s known spelling mishaps and was able to scale its engagement having positively influenced the brand’s perception within 24 hours.
- This single tweet became one of Burger King’s most successful social posts ever, achieving more than 117,000 social mentions and a 734% increase in brand conversation.
- The tweet organically received more than 422,000 likes, over 94,000 retweets and 13,000 comments.
- The president eventually went back and edited his tweet to correct the spelling error after the tweet went viral.
A universally acclaimed earned media-led campaign that resulted in Burger King’s most successful social post ever. Struck the right balance in a tricky social media environment.
The Verdict on the Rest of the
PR Gold Lions Winners
Wind Never Felt Better
- Brand: AB InBev, Budweiser
- Idea creation: David Miami
- PR: 3PM (Weber Shandwick & PMK-BNC)
- Award: PR Gold Lion
Budweiser is brewed with 100% renewable electricity and communicated this through a Super Bowl ad launched on YouTube a week before the big game and live on TV during the fourth quarter.
It’s a Super Bowl ad.
- Brand: Donate Life California
- Idea creation: Casanova//McCann, Costa Mesa
- PR: McCann New York
- Awards: PR Gold Lion/Direct Silver & Bronze Lions/Sustainable Development Goals Silver Lion/Brand Experience & Activation Bronze Lion
Police officers in California gave drivers they stopped for speeding whose licenses are marked as organ donors a Second Chance Ticket — a warning in lieu of an actual ticket.
The campaign was super-effective in terms of registering new donors, but should drivers really be rewarded in this fashion for breaking the law?
- Brand: Dagoma
- Idea creation: TBWA\Paris, France
- Awards: PR Gold & Bronze Lions/Brand Experience & Activation Silver Lion/Direct Silver & Bronze Lions/Sustainable Development Goals Silver Lion/Social & Influencer Bronze Lion
Harmless Guns was 3D printer Dagoma’s attempt to halt the spread of firearms by modifying real blueprints so the guns are harmless and don’t work when they’re printed out.
An interesting concept but one that ultimately seems a little incongruous in that the big idea revolves around engaging people who want to print out a gun.
- Brand: Plaza Vea
- Idea creation: Fahrenheit DDB, Lima
- PR: Fahrenheit DDB, Lima
- Awards: PR Gold Lion/Brand Experience & Activation Gold & Bronze Lions
A Peruvian retail chain tapped into the national frenzy around the country’s first qualification for the soccer World Cup in 36 years by ameliorating the cost for the 60,000 fans who traveled to the tournament in partnership with local Russian supermarkets.
It was great to see a Peruvian campaign win a Gold Lion at Cannes, but it’s not immediately clear how many Peruvian fans took up the price-matching offer with the Russian stores and how much that cost Plaza Vea in return for increased awareness and sales back at home.
Additional reporting and research by Jordyn Temperato.