This year's shortlist at the PR Lions showed a preference for campaigns that uncovered human truths, emotions and amazing stories through purpose.
By Carol Cone, Global Practice Chair, Edelman Business + Social Purpose
Five years ago I came to Cannes as a judge for the newly created category at the Cannes International Creativity Festival, the PR Lions. At the time we had nearly 500 entries and a heavy load – to establish the credibility of the PR profession to take a serious seat at the creativity table.
After an arduous time judging, most of the PR category winners were from advertising agencies and represented brilliant, authentic, multi-level campaigns.
Then the conversation shifted to discussing how and when PR firms will begin to rise to the level of these campaigns.
Five years later, I was at Cannes again.
This time with Edelman, leading their Business + Social Purpose practice. I had a mission: to learn the role and depth of purpose in the various campaigns entered at Cannes. Mostly in the PR industry but also in others.
I have worked in the field for more than 25 years and I wanted the outcome to be positive.
PR: Uncovering Potential Through Purpose
After three days of seminars, awards (promo, direct mail and PR), a review of the health Lions and the entire slate of PR entries (over 1,800), I left Cannes with my personal passion for this work supercharged and some key lessons.
My tally: in the new Cannes health Lions category, 35 of the 65 finalists were purpose related. Not surprising as the sector's purpose is health and wellness. Some great ideas that caught my attention:
- Burying a $500,000 Bentley to promote organ donation: This is preposterous as is dying without donating organs. The effectiveness was extraordinary: a 31.5 percent increase in organ donations in the first month.
- Pirate Pete, a bedtime story book series for Luxottica where parents can follow their child's head movements to uncover eye problems: Genius.
Next was hours of reviewing the PR entries (thankfully there were multiple PR category entries so I only had to look at approximately 1,200 original ones).
When the PR Lions shortlist came out, of the 181 finalists, 104 were purpose related! Judges from around the globe had spoken: the majority of the most creative campaigns had deep meaning, great authentic, rich and human stories woven throughout them. Purpose uncovered human truths, emotions and amazing stories and from that formula, creativity flowed.
Then the awards.
Grand Prix: Chipotle's Scarecrow Campaign
On the evening of June 23rd, in the promo and activation, PR and direct categories, over 75 percent had "purposeful" content related to social issues!
And with tremendous pride, I am thrilled to say that Edelman won the Grand Prix, for its work on Chipotle's* scarecrow campaign, partnering with CAA and Moonbot the creators of the video and game. For those who don’t know, Chipotle's purpose is food with integrity. This mission is at the center of its business and instrumental in providing great tasting fresh products raised humanely and sustainably. The campaign educates and engages consumers to learn more about why this matters on a variety of levels.
Following that win, the purpose cadence got louder.
In the most entered category, outdoor with over 5,000 entries, ANZ bank won for its brilliant idea, GAYTMS. The Australian bank changed its ATM’s with unique designs and compelling messaging to communicate its support for the Australian LGBTI community.
In addition to the awards, engaging presentations on purpose peppered the conference's seminar series. A highly provocative presentation came from Getty images introducing their "Lean In" series of images in partnership with Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In movement, real women around the globe doing real things.
Other seminars included "Nice is the New Black" from BBDO, new research focusing on millennials and purpose from the MSL Group, and the new "power" influence segment generation world from Y&R.
Still wondering if meaning at the center of brands and businesses is here to stay? Absolutely!
*Disclosure: Edelman client