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Your highlights reel of the best work from Cannes Lions 2022

What’s not to love about going to Cannes Lions? It’s a work-paid-for gig, with a bunch of mates, in 30-degree heat, on a beach in the South of France!

The lecture-style content coming out of the Palais can be a bit tough going but hey, some people seem to enjoy it, it doesn’t do much harm and it throws up the occasional gem. For example, you never know, the circle of life means the idea of British trade union leader and RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch presenting in the Palais to a half-full room of international creatives next year isn't an entirely unrealistic prospect. And what's not to love about that!

Happily for those of you that had to do some work and didn’t go to Cannes this year, or for those of you that did go, but spent most of your time drinking, eating and feeling hungover (who wouldn’t by the way, we're not judging), PRmoment asked Taylor Herring’s creative director Lora Martyr (who was there) to tour the best of Cannes and report back on the greatest work she could find.

So here you go, your Cannes highlights reel for 2022 courtesy of Lora:

1. The Night is Young

  • Publicis, Italy

  • Heineken

  • Gold: Health and Wellness

  • Shortlisted in a multitude of other categories including PR, Social & Influencer and Direct

A campaign by a beer brand won a Gold Lion for health and wellness!? Doesn’t make sense – until you see it.

Firstly, you question what right a beer brand has in speaking about vaccinations. Then you think about the fact that beer is essentially the lubricant of society – it brings people together and drives social interaction. And when the pandemic hit, pubs and bars were first to be shut. So actually, Heineken had every right to join (and arguably drive) this debate. A ballsy move brand-wise, but a natural fit culturally.

Now to the campaign itself. The craft of the content is so impressive – from the cinematography to the music and casting – it’s very slick. But what I really liked about it, is that it went all in. It took a calculated risk, based on human behaviour (and a bit of reverse psychology) and essentially gave staunch anti-vaxxers all the rope they needed. It got people talking and it moved the dial in a completely unexpected way.

2. Bride Armour / #NoExcuse

  • Ogilvy, South Africa

  • AB INBEV - Carling black label

  • Bronze: Outdoor

  • Shortlisted in a multitude of other categories including PR, Film and Media

This was probably the campaign that stood out most for me. Not least because the statistics are horrifying. Again, the first question was, should a beer brand be in this space? But it makes perfect sense when you think about it and moreover, it’s impressively self-aware from an alcohol brand.

It’s a very careful line that needs to be trodden when dealing with issues as serious as this – and I think Ogilvy did that incredibly well here. Partnering with SA’s largest GBV counselling centre and using the stories of real victims added depth, relevance and - most importantly - empathy to the campaign.

Everything tied together so beautifully for me on this one. First, you have the statistics underpinning everything, those then inform the design of the dress – from its bulletproof bodice to its fire-resistant train. Next, is the video, which is incredibly powerful as well as being visually very striking – with an almost ghostly aesthetic.

What I thought was particularly clever, was how it was so explicitly violent without a single person being on-screen… it relies on the viewer imagining someone in that wedding dress, and my god you do.

You then have the cache of an award-winning fashion designer and sculptor, and the experiential element of taking the dress to a fashion show - jam-packed with influencers.

But they didn’t stop there. The campaign took the fight back to the root cause, with messages on cans such as ‘I vow to love, protect and never abuse’ as well as showcasing the dress in taverns in GBV hotspots across South Africa.

Loved it.

3. Welcome to The Icelandverse

  • SS+K, New York

  • Inspired by Iceland

  • Bronze: Outdoor

  • Shortlisted PR and Social & Influencer

This is such a great example of how speed and relevance are key to an effective PR campaign; you’ve got to be quick if you’re going to comfortably insert your brand into an existing conversation. Attention spans aren’t what they were, and the next news item is waiting in the wings. With that in mind, absolute props to the client on this one for clearly being bold enough to strike whilst the iron was hot – so much so that even Zuckerberg himself responded.

The video is hilarious. And the ROI…!

4. Dyslexic thinking

  • FCB INFERNO, London

  • Virgin Group

  • Shortlisted PR, Social & Influencer, Brand Experience, Creative Strategy and others

I thought this was a fantastic insight and a very smart execution. It tore apart a misguided stereotype and created something positive – something to be proud of.

Super simple, super effective and the fact that positive sentiment towards dyslexia rose by 1562% shows the level of cut-through. Of course, it wouldn’t have hurt that in Richard Branson they had a named celebrity on side to kick things off!

5. Long Live The Prince

  • Engine, London

  • Kiyan Prince Foundation, EA Sports, QPR, Match Attax

  • Bronze: Entertainment

  • Shortlisted PR, Social & Influencer, Media and others

Aside from being highly emotive, this campaign really digs down into a difficult-to-reach target audience and their engagement (or lack of) with the issue at hand. Kids don’t want to be preached to about the dangers of knife crime by adults. They do want to play FIFA. So, Engine took the conversation to them.

This was such a positive and celebratory way to drive engagement around a serious topic. I also loved how so many different partnerships were leveraged, giving the campaign a really holistic feel.

The involvement of Kiyan’s father was key here –it ensured the message was singular and unmissable. And the results speak for themselves – over 3 years’ worth of donations in a single day. Brilliant.

6. Heinz Hidden Spots

  • GUT, Sao Paulo

  • The Kraft Heinz Co

  • Shortlisted PR, Social & Influencer, Direct, Media and others

As the case study video for this campaign outlines, when it comes to gaming - you bite, you die; ‘bite, die’. This was probably one of my favourite insights at the festival. It’s so left-field, and yet makes complete sense once it’s in front of you. If there’s no pause button on modern games, how the hell are gamers going to eat? Well, they don't, apparently.

I loved how the execution combined the virtual and real-life experiences so seamlessly – and also solved a legitimate problem for gamers. The maps on burger wrappers were a lovely touch to tie back to the brand because what do you eat with burgers? Ketchup of course.

The creative tapped into the competitive nature of gamers and gave a level of authorship to the point where it transcended this activation and gamers took it upon themselves to find secret snacking spots in other games. That’s when you know you’ve made it.

7. #FreeCuthbert

  • McCANN, Manchester

  • ALDI

  • Shortlisted PR

I don’t think you’d get a story like this anywhere other than the UK – the country that gave us Wagatha Christie and now #FreeCuthbert.

It’s joyful, it’s funny, it’s self-effacing. It’s everything that you want from a brand like Aldi. They could have shied away from M&S, but instead, they took the mantle of a cheeky younger sibling, partook in a bit of light-hearted trolling, and in doing so, won over the public.

Whoever signed this off deserves a medal. And I secretly hope they did it without legal knowing!

The agility of the team here is to be admired.

8. Vienna Strips on OnlyFans

  • Jung Von Matt Donau, Vienna

  • Vienna Tourist Board

  • Shortlisted PR, Social & Influencer, Direct and others

Talk about freeing the nipple. If social media sites label artwork as pornographic, what are you going to do? Move to OnlyFans of course!

It’s absolutely genius – a simple, culturally relevant campaign that you want to talk about with your mates down the pub. I vividly remember this story coming out and being jealous I hadn’t thought of it.

Add to the mix that every subscription on OnlyFans got free entry to Vienna museums and it hits every mark.

9. Have a Word

  • Ogilvy, London

  • Mayor of London

  • Shortlisted PR and Social & Influencer

I have admired this piece of work since it came out. It puts the onus where it’s supposed to be. It’s not preachy and it actually gives agency to men who otherwise may have thought they weren’t part of the conversation, or indeed the problem.

10. Homeless in the Metaverse

  • TBWA, Paris

  • Entourage

  • Shortlisted Social & Influencer, Brand Experience, Media and others

If there’s been one buzzword for Cannes 2022 it’s Metaverse. And this campaign went straight in there and turned on a pretty damning light.

This was carefully crafted and thoughtfully executed, incorporating stories from real homeless people – ensuring their voices didn’t get lost.

It tells us to invest in people not pixels – what a great ethos. But arguably worrying that we need reminding.

11. Rockin’ Mamas

  • VMLY&R ITALY, Milan

  • Web Magaine Maers Licenziatario Rolling Stone Per L’Italia

  • Silver: Industry Craft

  • Shortlisted Social & Influencer and others

What’s more rock ‘n’ roll than a black and white photo of someone who hasn’t slept in days, sprawled across the floor of a trashed bathroom? The print images are stunning, showing the craft of print ads:

12. I will always be me

  • VMLY&R, New York

  • Dell Technologies & INTEL

  • Grand Prix: Pharma – Patient Engagement

In terms of brands legitimately helping the world in a creative way, this is it. Astounding work.

Article written by Lora Martyr, creative director at Taylor Herring.

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