Amanda Galmes
Jun 30, 2016

Cannes 2016: The best PR campaigns captured both magic and logic

Amanda Galmes from Fuel Communications was the Australian representative of the 20-strong PR Jury.

Cannes 2016: The best PR campaigns captured both magic and logic

Much has been made over the past few weeks of the industry’s love/hate relationship with Cannes. But whether you are for or against this massive global celebration of creativity, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Cannes Lions provide an opportunity for the industry to have a long, hard (and yes, mostly through the lenses of bloodshot eyes) look at itself. For many agency leaders and CMOs it represents the time of year to step out of the micro and look at both their work and the industry at a macro scale. 

Some of my key take-outs include:

Truly integrated ideas win 

The best campaigns captured both magic and logic with a surprising, yet simply-executed creative idea that was backed by a data-led insight and rationale. These campaigns were naturally media-neutral and showcased strong execution across all channels from traditional media through to owned and earned media. Most of all, magic and logic combined caused a reaction and ultimately a change in business outcome.

Earned media at the heart

In the PR category, the ideas that performed well had earned media at the heart. The campaigns had a natural shareability and contagiousness; they persuaded people to pay attention and get involved. Earned media may have been the trigger or the amplifier but it was always at the heart of the campaigns.

Campaigning brands, not brand campaigns

Cause-related campaigns featured strongly again in 2016 but those that bubbled to the top were able to demonstrate an authentic and ongoing connection between the brand and the cause. Unilever CMO Keith Weed referred to this evolution as a move from brand campaigns to campaigning brands – when brands take a position on a particular issue and hold that position firm.

'GAYNZ' and 'Pocket Money' from ANZ Bank in Australia are examples of the banks' ongoing commitment to diversity.

Providing cultural context is important

One of the biggest insights that came out of the judging process is the importance of providing the cultural context of the work. The PR Lions Jury is extremely diverse with 20 jurors representing countries including China, Japan, Columbia, Portugal, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Brazil, Spain and India.

If a cultural reference, tone of voice or nuance is misunderstood, the work can easily be dismissed. The entries that are successful are those that can:

•         clearly communicate the issue and its context within the local market
•         outline what relevance it had to the brand
•         show how the idea to address the issue was surprising or creative
•         demonstrate how earned media drove the campaign to create purpose or affect change

The sheer scale of markets in Asia and diversity of audiences across countries such as China and India mean that target audiences and results also need to be shared in a way that creates context for the campaigns. It was only when the respective country reps on the jury were able to provide detail about the specific relevance and impact that the entry resonated.

Showcasing results as a percentage of market or audience reached would be a more meaningful metric than using raw numbers or the dreaded AVE.

Our Japanese juror did an outstanding job of providing the contextual background to some of the Japanese campaigns that made the shortlist. Given the unique nature of this market, his role was critical in helping us appreciate and understand Japanese cultural nuances.

Some of my personal Asian favourites across all the categories include:

•         10 Minutes Noodle
•         Anti-Bacterial Red Packet
•         Touchable Ink
•         Safe & Sound Music Player
•         Surgeon Try Outs
•         Slow Down GPS
•         Bajaj V
•         Open Road Project

Amanda Galmes is managing director of Fuel Communications Australia


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