The agency ‘blurred lines’ conversation is one that plays out in the industry repeatedly. This takes on a whole new lease of life in Cannes. On the awards stage at the world’s leading festival of creativity, it’s even harder to distinguish between agencies. Brilliant, impactful campaigns are played out during the awards every evening that could come from any discipline; ad, design, creative or PR. We’re told over and over that great creative ideas win awards but what does that mean through the lens of your own discipline and your own unique skill set?
Travelling to Cannes as PR Young Lions, we knew there must be a way to distinguish a brilliant PR creative idea. But how?
Our first port of call in getting to the bottom of this was in the Jury room with the PR judges. A fantastic opportunity for anyone attending Cannes Lions, these jury sessions promised to tell us exactly how and why campaigns won Grand Prix, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The PR Jurors shared insights on what great PR work meant at Cannes as separate to any other discipline.
They opened with the following statement,
“We’ll only reward real PR work”.
But what does that mean?
They explained that this year they changed the criteria to emphasise the importance of earned media. They wanted the PR entries to earn attention first, with ideas so strong they had the ability to grow by themselves before amplifying with a paid strategy. So, how do you build an idea that can earn attention?
Here’s the 5 key takeaways.
1. Idea so strong it will be shared…organically.
The power of earned was recognised and awarded across the Festival but especially in the PR category. If the message doesn’t travel organically, it won’t make the cut.
2. Ideas must be creatively executed.
The big opportunity is technology that now allows us to tell the same stories in amazing ways. Communications that aren’t anchored by a powerful creative idea and brought to life through brilliant execution will not earn audiences’ attention and engagement. Creativity, regardless of the discipline, should always be informed by and grounded in insights - creativity for creativity's sake is nice, but won't lead to meaningful results.
3. Ideas that deliver business or societal results.
Ideas must be unflinchingly committed to strong meaningful measurement - however un-sexy - with no compromises. Measurement is not about likes and shares or meaningless circulation numbers. It should be about metrics and tangible business results. This is critical to a winning campaign - no matter how innovative or "cool" it may be.
4. Ideas that move from a moment to a movement.
A winning idea should be inherently obvious, instantly understood, and universally appealing. They are campaigns that were so culturally relevant that they became part of a moment in time.
5. Ideas that make you think ‘I wish I did that’!
The judges were seeking out work that they wish they had done themselves. We also spent the week in Cannes seeking out work that we could have done here in the Irish market.
It wasn’t just the judges talking about the importance of earned but the speakers too.
A$AP Rocky, rapper, and creative director, summed it up in one simple sentence.
“Whack is whack”.
Putting money behind something doesn't make it good – here’s some our favourite earned work from the festival. The campaigns that definitely weren’t whack.
The Cheetos Museum
A brilliantly, simple idea that it’s rooted in the product insight – every Cheeto is different. It also took consumer involvement to the next level, celebrating consumers as artists! Cheetos were a category leader but faced pressure and needed to find new ways to grow. The consumer needed to find a new reason to buy the product again. The campaign sparked a nationwide hunt taking it from a moment to a movement and delivering their highest sales week ever.
Fly Babies by Jet Blue
Despite consistently high customer satisfaction there’s an element of the inflight experience that is beyond Jet Blue’s control - crying babies. They created a campaign to look at this human truth from both sides - passengers feel annoyed and mothers feel anxious.
In the lead up to Mother’s Day, they announced on a flight that each passenger on board would receive 25% off if a baby cries – four crying babies is a round trip ticket for free. The campaign challenged perceptions of babies on board while empathising with mothers.
For the first time ever, crying babies on a flight were a good thing.
Google Sheep View by Visit Faroe Islands
A David versus Goliath story of a girl and her sheep against the world’s largest corporation.
Google was simply not interested in the tiny country. And with only 50,000 inhabitants the Faroe Islands had limited opportunities to market the small islands in the world. By earning the media's interest all over the in the world, suddenly Google was a little more amenable...
Spanish Lessons by Narcos
A brilliant idea that came from using social listening to find a common thread between global viewers. It belonged on social as that’s where people are when they’re streaming and it organically outperformed all paid posts from Netflix. Who doesn’t love free Spanish lessons?
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Emma Williams is an Associate Director and Jennifer Hyland an Account Director at Edelman Ireland.
Edelman is a leading global communications marketing firm that partners with many of the world’s largest and emerging businesses and organisations, helping them evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. They have deep expertise in consumer trends, research, analytics and insights, corporate reputation, health, technology, crisis, energy, and government affairs. Please visit www.edelman.ie for further information.
Edelman Ireland are corporate partners of the Marketing Institute. Learn more about corporate partnership here.