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Outdoor Lions: Cannes 2022 Decoded

Havas Middle East wins Grand Prix for combining brand purpose with sales

By Ian Darby

Sports brand Adidas was named as the sole Grand Prix winner in the Outdoor category, with the 'Liquid Billboard' work from Havas Middle East Dubai taking the prize.

The campaign involved the creation of a billboard that people could actually dive into on a beach in Dubai. This was designed to support the launch of a range of accessible swimwear in a move to address a decline in women having the confidence to take to the water in the locality.

There were no UK-based agency winners in the category this time around, while ALMA DDB Miami captured the highest total of Outdoor Gold Lions, with three for the PepsiCo 'Better with Pepsi' campaign.

Creative Salon asked Sanjiv Mistry, executive creative director at McCann London and a judge for the Outdoor category, for his thoughts.

What were the key trends in the category?

Real and gritty beats styled, staged and perfect. Increasingly, we’re noticing brands embrace the ability of real, unforced (and often pre-existing) images to evoke emotion. When the audience knows that what they’re looking at hasn’t been styled and retouched to within an inch of its life, and is a reflection of reality, it can evoke a closer connection to the message and a more visceral reaction.

OOH is awakening to its own impact on the planet, and taking steps to help. We’ve seen great climate-related work over the years, but this year we’re seeing more brands consider their impact as advertisers and their power to use the medium of out of home itself in more responsible ways.

And pandemic-related work is easing off. Mirroring the pandemic itself, as a jury we noticed that (apart from some notable exceptions) work directly related to the pandemic was beginning to tail off, with more brands returning to their core brand purpose.

What advice would you give to marketers wanting to win a Lions in the category in 2023?

Work that used outdoor in an incidental way, or simply as part of a wider campaign, tended to not win Lions, no matter how brilliant the idea. Winning in this category is about embracing the outdoor space to such an extent that, if you were to remove the outdoor aspect, the idea would no longer exist.

What was your favourite work in the category?

I had a few favourites, including of course the Grand Prix. I loved the way ‘Plastic Fishing Tournament’ for Corona beer reframed and incentivised the ocean plastic issue, while providing a long-term way of tackling the problem. I was also very fond of ‘Flags of Generosity’ for Cadbury. It could’ve been cheapened and ruined with logos and brand messages on the flags, but the brand showed sensitivity and restraint in keeping it to pure purple, an ownable semiotic link to their platform of glass-and-a-half generosity.

And, finally, why did the Grand Prix winner stand out?

Cause-related work, whether by charities or brands, remains the dominant trend. But one of the main reasons for awarding the Grand Prix to ‘Liquid Billboard’ was that it was the perfect confluence of brand purpose, cultural tension, and selling product, since it was designed to showcase and launch a new range of inclusive swimwear, proving that the Adidas brand was walking the walk.

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