News & Views

Cannes Lions / PR Awards

by Contagious Team

The Financial Category Grand Prix winner shows how to deal with a break-up

Australian agency Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne was awarded the PR Grand Prix for its Break Up campaign for the National Australia Bank, beating 819 entries to the prize. The series of events staged by NAB showed the bank publically 'breaking up' with its rivals, garnering $5m in earned media. 

Jury President, David Senay, CEO of Fleishman-Hillard, praised the campaign for being a 'brilliant example of positioning, while depositioning your competition'. The campaign used an insight that all banks were seen as the same by their customers in the wake of the financial crisis, which Senay believes is embedded 'deep in our psyche'. He added 'using the massive force of negativity about banking against your competition was a conceptual Ju Jitsu'.

The 10 Gold PR Lions were awared to Ogilvy & Mather, New York, for its promotion of IBM's Watson super computer. Corporate social responsibility and goodwill projects dominated the other Gold winners, indicating the increasing expectation placed on companies to behave responsibly. TBWA\Chiat\Day New York's Digital Death AIDS Awareness campaign picked up two Golds, while London's sole win was for funding to keep state school Durand Academy open through Political Lobbying & Media Relations' (PLMR) Shine a Light on Opportunity work.

Vac From The Sea through Prime PR, Stockholm also won a Gold Lion for its initiative to clear some of the mass of plastic from the oceans, demonstrating both Electrolux's cleaning potential and its CSR strengths. Diageo's Watermark campaign through Leo Burnett, Sydney, demonstrated an impressive way that the brand could both help regenerate and commemorate the massive floods in Australia with its launch of a new rum brand. 

Mercedes-Benz claimed a Gold through Jung von Matt, Hamburg, for its Tramp a Benz work - following the story of a hitchhiker, solely taking lifts from Mercedes drivers. Chevrolet's Taxi Drivers' University through Sancho BBDO, Bogota and SkankPlay by DON'TTRYTHIS, Sao Paulo both also claimed Gold Lions. 

Although the category was criticised for being dominated by advertising agencies, rather than PR agencies this year, entries to the category were up 43% this year, indicating to David Senay that this 'reflects the growing interest in the principles of public relations in the way we communicate to each other today'.He added 'I have a belief that excellence doesn't have an address' and criticised the PR industry for 'a certain amount of isolationism. We need to reach across disciplines and begin integrating in more powerful and creative ways.'

As PR is a results-driven industry, the jury questioned which results are best to justify the worth of a campaign, criticising campaigns which valued buzz and free publicity. Jury member and Global CEO of Ogilvy PR, Christopher Graves, explained: 'Great PR is not free. We're proud of charging for it.' Senay sees awareness and publicity as a base expectation, adding that attitude and belief change, leading to behaviour change are more powerful indicators. He explained: 'We want to take these sorts of results to the CEO's office and show them the true value of our worth.'