News & Views

Cannes Lions / PR Lions

by Contagious Team

Cannes Lions' PR winners show that a wider awareness of the world around you and a sense for generating 'good' can reap rewards

Cannes Lions' PR jury was looking for campaigns with strong ideas, which demonstrated audience impact and had a strong purpose. Jury president Gail Heimann, vice chair of Weber Shandwick Worldwide, explained that 'every entry pushed the boundaries of what we think of as traditional PR.' 

She praised the 'spectacular work from emerging markets', with Puerto Rico's JWT claiming the first Grand Prix for the country, for JWT San Juan's work for Banco Popular de Puerto Rico

The agency approached the hugely popular salsa band, El Grand Combo de Puerto Rico, to re-record their hit song, No Hago Más Ná (I Do Nothing). The lyrics were transformed from ones that advocated laziness to extolling the benefits of working. This smart move for the bank, backed by roadblock TV, an outdoor concert and substantial PR, questioned the usual way of life in the country, where 60% of the population rely on government handouts. 

Other Gold winners included Blood Relations for The Peres Center For Peace, through Baumann Ber Rivnay Saatchi & Saatchi, which the judges found moving and would have considered for the Grand Prix, if not for the rule that prevents charities from claiming the main prize. 

Relatively small scale Australian men's clothing company M.J. Bale's sponsorship of the Australian cricket team through Whybin\TBWA\Tequila, Sydney, also claimed a Gold Lion. The work was described by jury member and managing director of Australian agency Pulse CommunicationsMatt Buchanan, as 'an insightful campaign with an incredibly powerful, simple idea'. R/GA New York's One Copy Song for Adam Tensta, which saw Tensta's song distributed through social channels to regain a sense of anticipation around the single's release, also claimed two Gold Lions, and TNT's Push To Add Drama viral through Duval Guillaume Modem, Antwerp also was awarded a Gold Lion, to add to other Golds in Promo and Activation. 

A full list of winners can be found at

The jury also commented on the development of PR as an industry, spurred on by the fact that the majority of the Lions were claimed by advertising agencies rather than PR specialists. Marian Salzman, CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America, cited the insight generation process as a big opportunity for the PR industry. This was echoed by Joe Sinclair, CD of UK-based Burson-Marsteller, who questioned whether PR agencies should begin to develop specialisms. He believes the industry needs to 'place an emphasis on an insight-led approach and take time to execute against that'.