It was a Cannes Lions like no other, with beach-side meetings and rose swapped for daytime TV sofas and international talking heads. But the final day ended with some big wins that, at heart, showed the importance of strong agency client relationships and showed how brands are starting to amplify issues and conversations happening
FCB was named Network of the Year, thanks to bold work like FCB Inferno’s “Raising Profiles,” on behalf of The Big Issue & LinkedIn, (which took a Grand Prix as well as five other Lions), “SICK BEATS” by AREA 23, an FCB Health Network company, which has two Grands Prix, and Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold’s Contract for Change.
It’s the first time FCB has won network of the year and the result of a five-year journey. “We realised we were small in this network world we realised if we didn’t pull together in the big network world there was no way we’d win,” said Global CCO Susan Credle, talking about the journey.
The huge awards haul has come, counterintuitively (or not!), from not being focused on awards but on creative work that has a commercial impact for clients. “The main thing was we were going to do this together and weirdly enough we stopped focussing on award,” Susan told Cannes Lions.
AMV BBDO London was named Agency of the year – again for the first time. CCO Alex Grieves agreed with Susan Credle that success had not come from a focus on awards, but were a nice reward for doing creative work, focused on the needs of the client. The agency won the Grand Prix for Good in Health & Wellness for their Address Pollution project, and Grands Prix in Health & Wellness, Film Craft, Titanium for their Essity campaigns #WombStories and #WombPainStories, as well as picking up nods for their emotionally staggering MacMillan campaign Whatever it Takes (a silver in Film Craft) and their playful Bombay Sapphire x Design Museum Supermarket.
WPP was named Holding Company of the Year, thanks in part to the huge success of Ogilvy’s Dove campaign that paid homage to the frontline medical workers that have kept us all safe during the pandemic and also Burger King’s The Stevenage Challenge from DAVID Miami and Madrid. WPP picked up another Grand Prix on the final day as VMLY&R Brazil won the Glass Lion for Change with their I Am campaign for Starbucks. Omnicom came in second and Interpublic Group third.
Burger King was named Creative Brand of the Year, with Bodyform/Essity coming second and Dove coming in third.
Chelsea Pictures took home the Palme D’Or.
Grand Prix for Good
Propuesta Civica: #StillSpeakingUp
This project for Publicis Worldwide Mexico has used deepfake technology to make a powerful point. Mexican journalist Javier Valdez was murdered in response to his fearless pursuit of organized crime and corruption. In the country, many journalist have been murdered and therefore current reporters are afraid to speak up or dig deep – the agency teamed up with Propuesta Civica to use deepfake to bring Javier ‘back to life’, making the provocative statement that the only journalist who can speak up in the country is one who can’t be murdered, because they’re already dead.
Sustainable Development Goals Lion
Doconomy: The 2030 Calculator
According to jury president Eduardo Maruri said that he was heartened to see that the vast majority of the work was not pandemic related, showing tht Covid-19 had not distracted organisations and businesses from the 2030 climate change goals. “I expected to see more and I was happy not to see those,” he said.
The winner was the 2030 Calculator a tool that allows brands measure the carbon footprint of their products they manufacture. Prior to the calculator, figuring that out was a prohibitively costly effort for small and medium sized companies.
Glass Lions for Change
Starbucks: I Am
According to Glass Lion jury president Bozoma Saint John, the Grand Prix winner was awarded on the basis that it was a project that not only raised awareness but that actually changed people’s lives. The campaign was based on the need for trans people to be able to more easily change their names on official documents – and rooted in the reality that giving your name is a regular part of the ritual of Starbucks. Why not turn Starbucks into a place where people could have their name change officially notarised?
“Where I’m from, my name means something it was given to me, but if I had a name that I didn’t feel fit I would want that to be legalized,” said Bozoma.
Rafael Pitanguy from VMLY&R Brazil which made the campaign said that it was a project that deeply touched him as he worked closely with the Brazil’s transgender community. “We realised the importance of the name – how could we not only raise awareness for the transgender community in brazil but also make change. This project has touched everyone who was involved in it. It really stays with me.”
There was a whopping three Grands Prix in the Film Lions this year.
Lacoste: Crocodile Inside
Lacoste’s tumultuous and torrid love story from BETC and directors Megaforce is a work of pure emotion and cinema, that captured the jury’s heart.
Nike: You Can’t Stop Us
Nike’s tricky splitscreen spot used a mixture of found footage and cleverly matched new footage to create one of the most memorable Covid-era film campaigns. Say we’re in lockdown without *saying* we’re in lockdown. Wieden + Kennedy worked closely with Pulse Films and director Oscar Hudson on this seemingly simple spot that was packed with production complexity under the hood.
What more is there to say about the craft, insight and impact of #Wombstories? The campaign shows the brand continuing to push boundaries for women and make space for them to talk about and connect over their experiences, issues that have traditionally been taboo or unseemly and have left women feeling isolated. Director Nisha Ganatra brings together a symphony of storytelling and animation to create a relatable campaign that use playful visual metaphors to powerful effect.
Libresse: Pain Stories
Pain Stories took the artistic aesthetic of Womb Stories to tackle and very specific issue: women’s pain not being taken seriously by the medical establishment. With women struggling to get medics to diagnose conditions like endometriosis and PCOS, this campaign built a creative toolkit and vocabulary to help arm women – and, hopefully, to change attitudes. Just this week, Times Columnist Caitlin Moran triggered an outpouring on social media as she spoke about the agony of having a contraceptive coil fitted, and women joined her on social media and in the press talking about being ignored, physically damaged and being made to go through excruciating pain because doctors assume it’s ‘not supposed to hurt’ – showing that it’s a campaign that continues to be relevant.
CCO Alex Grieve pointed out that this campaign did not come out of nowhere, it’s the result of a determined client and a strong relationship. It’s been a five or six year journey with Essity – owner of the brand known as Libresse and Bodyform in different markets. They started slowly to push things and build momentum – campaigns like The Last Taboo in 2016, Blood Normal in 2017, and Viva la Vulva in 2018 have built a foundation.
Says Susan Credle, the strength of the agency-client relationship was key. “With any relationship, the more you know you have each other’s backs the more likely you are to go places they wouldn’t have otherwise gone,” she said. “The #wombpainstories piece, we’ve seen campaign after campaign and they’re obviously on a journey together.”
Across the winners, Susan said that this year a key them was that brands were able to connect and facilitate people who have been trying to fight injustices for years. “Lighting up stories that were happening in corners for decades… and brands are now amplifying it,” she said.