Media Lions: Cannes 2021 Decoded

Two Grands Prix in Media, while PHD hits Gold

By creative salon

Two Grands Prix were awarded in the Media category, the first to ‘Boards of Change’ by FCB Chicago, for the City of Chicago - an initiative that greatly increased voter participation in the 2020 US Presidential election.

The second Grand Prix went to 'Naming the invisible by Digital Birth Registration' by Telenor Pakistan Islamabad/Ogilvy Pakistan, Islamabad, for Telenor Pakistan, which utilised mobile technology to provide digital birth registration for thousands of ‘invisible’ children in Pakistan

PHD won two Golds – for ‘Media that “eats” pollution’ for Volkswagen, which also won a Bronze, and ‘Address the “no fixed address” problem for HSBC. The VW campaign to promote the marque’s Id.3 electric car used poster sites painted with a product called Airlite. This is a 100 percent natural material designed to eliminate bacteria and reduce pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide (NOx).

FCB Inferno also won a Gold, for ‘Raising profiles’ for The Big Issue and LinkedIn

BBH won Silver for ’72 remembered’ for Justice4Grenfell as did Elvis/The LadBible Group for 'The illegal blood bank' for The LadBible.

McCann London won Bronze for ’40,000 Remembered’ for Help For Heroes; Saatchi & Saatchi also picked up Bronze for ‘Insuring the movies’ for Direct Line

A total of 1,972 entries were received and 64 Lions won: 10 Gold, 19 Silver, 33 Bronze Lions.

Creative Salon asked Philippa Brown, the chief executive of PHD and Media Lions jury chair, for her thoughts:

What trends have you noticed in your category?

There was a deep sense of responsibility as a jury because of the main themes we were seeing. Climate change and diversity were two themes that really stood out, demonstrating creativity’s important role in societal issues. Cause-related issues such as Black Lives Matter were very prominent as you might expect and an opportunity that many brands took to demonstrate what they stand for. Confronting prejudice and inequality was a big topic that came through in many of the awards papers. And connected to that was authenticity and how well and meaningful the connection between brands and their causes were. Purpose was a common theme running through the entries, or rather, ‘authentic purpose’. The jury can spot quite easily when it’s purpose for purpose sake – those cases get dismissed straight away.

We also saw a lot around female empowerment, especially from underdeveloped countries, such as India, where brands are really helping to bring this to the forefront and applying pressure for change.

Technology and how tech is being used for good and not just tech for tech sake, for example, tech that is supporting and advancing communities and culture. And related to Covid we saw examples of how big brands and businesses have helped smaller independent businesses.

What advice would you give to your clients if they want to win in this category next year?

On a practical level the jury is looking out for three things: good use of data and insights; strong performance such as moving brand metrics and showing impactful business results and those that prompt you to say “I wish I had of thought of that”. The strategy that must be a media or comms strategy – it’s not enough to just have a brilliant execution.

Media creativity has to be at the heart of the entry, so clients that make the leap in innovation and creative thinking rise to the top. But it’s also worth noting that as the media jury, we have to decouple the creative campaign from the media campaign and identify the role of the media agency. This requires us to delve much further than the creative. We have to go into more detail in what sits behind it.


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