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Little Black Book’s 2019 Cannes Contenders: The Americas
London, UK
Dead certs and dark horses from the US, Canada and Latin America according to LBB’s Americas editor Addison Capper
On the one hand, picking Cannes Contenders from the Americas is easy because, well, there is a helluva lot to choose from. On the other, I feel like I could keep on picking and picking and picking campaigns that I think - and want - to do well on the Riviera next week and whittling them is hella hard. Nevertheless, here we are! A pretty serious list of work with a smattering of lightheartedness. 

Dead Certs

Nike - Dream Crazy

This doesn't really need much introduction, does it? You already know why Nike and Wieden+Kennedy's decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of the brand's 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign inspired a small selection of boneheads to burn their sneakers. Nike's risk has already paid off with online sales jumping 31% after the campaign's launch, and it'll come as no surprise if Wieden+Kennedy reaps its fair share of industry recognition next week in Cannes.

Gillette - We Believe

The comments section underneath 'We Believe' not long after it launched made for pretty dismal reading with regards to where we're at on social issues like masculinity. But I live in hope that that says more about people compelled to leave YouTube comments than society as a whole. Incidentally, this campaign also marked the 30th anniversary of Gillette's famous tagline with something equally as powerful as Nike, revisiting what 'the best' in 'The Best a Man Can Get' really means. Created by Grey New York and launching with a film by Somesuch's Kim Gehrig, it showcased a series of ever-present examples of toxic masculinity in society - hyper-machoism, cat-calling, man-splaining and the rest - before suggesting and demonstrating the actions that men can take to instil change. This wasn't the first time a brand has tried to re-frame masculinity - Axe has been championing that for some time. But it did mark a first acknowledging the general shittiness of our behaviour both past and present. And that's why it deserves its plaudits. Also, an honourable mention for Gillette Canada and Grey Toronto for 'First Shave', in which a father teaches his transgender son to shave for the first time. 

MedMen - The New Normal

Getting Spike Jonze to direct your commercial is quite a good way of ensuring that it at least looks nice. But there's so much more to this campaign for MedMen, one of America's largest cannabis companies, than its craft (which is, go figure, really quite beautiful anyway). The campaign was created by Mekanism and follows weed's turbulent journey through US history, transitioning through diorama-like scenes of George Washington's very own hemp farm, issues around prohibition and racial injustice, before staking a claim for the plant's benefit on modern day society. MedMen's chief marketing officer David Dancer told me that the brand wanted to build upon its past campaigns - which all served to normalise marijuana's status in society - taking the conversation to a new level by addressing "the social, political, and economical aspects of cannabis". Jonze and Mekanism achieved that by using a cast and crew who had a real life connection to cannabis, as well as writing help from Grey's Anatomy's Jesse Williams (who also stars in the film). 

Childish Gambino - This Is America

If this is entered, it can't not win. The message and the craft are both perfect. Only hermits haven't seen it. Donald Glover and his long-time creative partner Hiro Murai really kinda nailed this one. But you already knew that anyway. 

Burger King - Whopper Detour

Everything I've written about so far has been pretty darn serious. Whopper Detour is anything but. To promote Burger King USA's new app, FCB New York launched a campaign that promised customers a Whopper for a whopping one cent if they used. The catch was that they had to be inside a McDonald's to claim it before some neat tech would reroute customers to the closest Burger King. It brought the lols in the office and was super successful for the brand, leading to over 1 million app downloads in just a few days and jumping from ninth to first place in the iTunes App Store's food and drink category. What's more, the print campaign was just as cheeky, depicting His Royal Flame-grilledness the Burger King himself altering a McDonald's roadside sign from 'Billions Served' to 'Billions Swerved'. 

The New York Times - The Truth Is Worth It

In the age of #FakeNews, twisted truth and online publishing, the truth has never been more important. But the truth can be hard to come by, as this incredible campaign from The New York Times, Droga5 and Furlined's Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin demonstrates. It picked up a coveted Black Pencil at the D&AD Awards earlier this year and I'm wagering on it scoring some metal on the Riviera too. 

Dark Horses

Aeromexico - DNA Discounts

This campaign unexpectedly went viral at the beginning of 2019, despite it officially launching before Cannes last year. Entitled 'DNA Discounts' and created in tandem by Ogilvy Mexico and Colombia, the crux of the campaign involved offering flyers discount depending on their Mexican ancestry. But the campaign's delivery involved so much more than merely offering up cheap flights. The brand headed to Wharton, Texas, 300 miles from the Mexican border and interviewed a handful of residents. Many of them expressed their dislike of their southern neighbours despite their love of burritos, tequila and the like. One fellow quips, "Let me stay here in peace, and let those folks stay on their side of the border." It's then of course revealed that each of them have a certain percentage of Mexican DNA. The film features no direct reference to political issues but gets its point across deftly and I was pumped to see it in the Titanium shortlist. 

McDonald's Puerto Rico - Blurry Billboards

The main thing I noticed while wandering around the winners room at the D&AD Festival in May was the sheer amount of killer McDonald's print work from around the world. These rain-soaked windows from TBWA\Paris are a particular office favourite. This outdoor campaign from McDonald's Puerto Rico and TBWA\San Juan illustrates just how iconic the brand's menu items are by slapping huge, blurry images of them on billboards in the most brilliantly ballsy way. I'm lovin' it. 

White Ribbon - Boys Don't Cry

Here's another campaign fixing its gaze on toxic masculinity. Canadian agency Bensimon Byrne and Oscar-nominated director Hubert Davis get to the root of the issue in a heart-wrenching film for advocacy group White Ribbon. Boys Don't Cry is lesser known but just as, if not more, powerful than Gillette's ad tackling a similar problem. I'm rooting for this to do well next week, but mostly for its effect on the issue at hand. 

Country Time Lemonade - Legal-Ade

Lemonade stands are a rite of passage for any American kid, but dumb bureaucratic rules, involving kids needing a licence to operate, were getting in the way of tradition. Country Time Lemonade and Leo Burnett Chicago came to the rescue, committing to offer legal defence to any youngens facing the wrath of the law. Various local governments eventually took action to allow lemonade stands to run without a licence. What's more, this campaign was one of 12 Commendation winners in the first ever Immortal Awards, and it always gets a notable reception whenever we showcase the reel.

The Southern Poverty Law Center - El Corrido de David y Goliat

Many immigrants interacting with law enforcement and immigration authorities know little about their rights. Wing, the multicultural unit of Grey USA, along with The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) set out to help immigrants - most notably those with little access to modern media - via the medium of song. They enlisted the help of Latin GRAMMY-winning band Flor De Toloache to record a song conveying important information about the rights that immigrants can exercise when interacting with the authorities. Natch. 
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