21 judges, 6 days deliberation, 1850 entries, 66 countries, 13 Golds. Cannes Lions Winners 2014.

After 6 sometimes very long days, heated debate, deliberation and consideration by the PR jury of which I am honoured to have been a part, the results have finally been announced and the winners presented with their metal. So with Fiona Apple, a branded game, a film and an unswerving point of view about food provenance, sustainability and the environment, Chipotle’s The Scarecrow sparked 18.4 million conversations across 17 social platforms.  A PR agency won the PR Grand Prix for the second time in the 3 year history of the Cannes Lions PR Awards. Congratulations to Edelman NYC for the campaign which is brilliant news for our industry.

Despite all the hand-wringing going on in the press about the continued dominance of the ad agency entries in the PR category at Cannes, I feel strongly that it matters less the medium where the idea starts – a tweet, a consumer response, an event or a film can spark a PR movement, conversation, debate and travel beyond the starting point to engage, change behaviour or opinion and in the case of Radikal, a law. We judged everything ‘blind’ so we had no idea who the company entering was – whether in-house or ad, pr (or any other kind of) agency – we went by the work.  The whole earned, owned and paid conversation was a heavily debated topic. My point of view is that if the creative idea can stand up as a way to spark conversation and third party engagement (whether it be media, consumer or stakeholder) then it doesn’t matter where it came from. If it was purely an idea that relied on paid placement in any medium then it wouldn’t necessarily stand up to that scrutiny.  I’m pretty confident that whether the agency is listed or not that a capable PR pair of hands and brains (or five) were involved in these campaigns making them the successes they are. 

Looking at the final golds awarded integration is the name of the game. PR agencies also have to be in it to win it – 60% of the entries were from ad agencies so that dynamic needs to change to get more PR agencies winning as a simple numbers game.

Our Jury President, MSL’s Renee Wilson, talked about the Chipotle campaign: “What was exciting for us, besides the fact that it was incredibly creative and had very strong results, was that this was a content driven marketing platform that was designed to engage consumers in a very emotional way. It was about storytelling via a variety of integrated elements and it was launched with no paid media; everything was earned. What we are seeing is that all types of agencies are recognising the power of PR. The kind of thinking that wins these awards only comes from great PR people, wherever they are working.” My fellow juror Ann Maes, MD Ogilvy Group Belgium calls this kind of campaign ‘magnetic content’ – the urge to share something via any means possible – even a chinwag with someone –  and I like that idea that whatever the campaign subject it pulls you strongly in a direction and won’t let up. Trends that the Chipotle campaign taps into are myriad including taking a stand, storytelling (of the highest quality), gamification and brand transparency. At its heart there is also a David & Goliath message about the small guys and their ‘food with integrity’ message is expertly crafted into all the communications (which is why it also won Brand Voice gold metal too). See the Scarecrow film below and the full brief, strategy and execution here.

The list of the Gold winners of the Cannes Lions PR category is below:

The Scarecrow for Chipotle, US, PR agency Edelman NY & Creative Artists Agency, LA
This is Wholesome for Honey Maid, Weber Shandwick & Droga 5, NY
Tui Catch A Million, Saatchi & Saatchi NZ
The Fading News, Radikal, TBWA Istanbul
Sweetie, International Children’s Aid Organisation, LEMZ Amsterdam
The Autocomplete Truth, UN Women, MEMAC Ogilvy Dubai
Rice-code, Inakadate Village, Hakuhodo Tokyo
Samsung Maestros Academy, Samsung Electronics Italy, Leo Burnett, Italy
Dallas Gas Station, TNT, Grey NY
Bald Cartoons, GRAAC (NGO) Ogilvy Brasil
Live Test Series, Volvo Trucks, Forsman & Bodenfors Gothenburg & PR agency BE ON Stockholm
 
The US had a strong showing across the board and the final mix includes causes, brands and events. No golds for the UK, but some strong entries in the shortlist and winners in both silver and bronze. The PR Lions shortlist and full winners list are here. I’m going to be dissecting the various campaigns and what makes them award-winning creative in the next few weeks so stay tuned!

Written by Claire Bridges, Founder Now Go Create, Judge at this year’s Cannes Lions PR Jury 2014. Link up with Claire on Google+

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