DP World The Move to -15 edelman

What Winning a Titanium Lion for a B2B Logistics Firm Taught Me About Doing Great Work

Edelman's senior director of strategy unpicks the DP World ‘Move to Minus Fifteen’ campaign that stole the show at Cannes Lions

By Karin Robinson

For years I’ve been quietly sidestepping opportunities to attend the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, only because I tend to get more excited by the work itself than the celebrations.

But this year, I had an important reason to go. Because our work ‘Move to -15 Degrees’, for Edelman’s logistics client DP World, was shortlisted for a prestigious Titanium Lion. The Titanium Lion is for campaigns described as “provocative, boundary-busting, envy-inspiring work that marks a new direction for the industry”. What’s more, I was asked to personally present the work to the jury, alongside our client and partner, Maha AlQattan, group chief sustainability officer.

A few head-spinning days later, we won it.

There we were, as a team, on the Festival stage, accepting not just Edelman’s first Titanium, but as the first legacy PR firm to ever win a Titanium Lion. A historic moment. Not only that but we won a Gold Lion for Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to the silver for B2B we’d accepted earlier in the week.

I’m deeply honoured. But, all modesty aside, I always felt that this work was great. From the moment we had the first insight.

About the Move

This work started with a simple brief to tell people about DP World’s role in the frozen food supply chain, so we started by doing diligent research to understand how the cold chain operates. In that process, we discovered that frozen food is routinely shipped at a temperature three degrees colder than necessary to keep the food safe. The whole team became obsessed with asking why, challenging the status quo, and making this work better for business and for the planet.

By founding the Move to -15 coalition, we fulfilled our client’s strategic ambition to be seen as a leader in shaping the shipping and logistics industry towards a better future for sustainable global trade. And this simple idea would save 5 to 7 per cent of the carbon used in the process – the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off the road overnight. But since no one company could make this change on their own, we needed to bring together the whole industry in a coalition touching every part of the supply chain and speak to all our different stakeholder audiences.

We believed in this from the start. That was the easy part. Getting it done was a lot harder than that. Great work is never easy.

And not all great work ends in Lions. But if you have solved a client problem, resonated with your audience, or brought a fresh thought into the conversation, then you have done something rare and difficult. And in my experience – you will know it. We can feel it when we’ve done something special.

Making Great Work

So, this seems like a good moment to stop and take stock of where great work comes from, how great work gets made, and what makes work great.

Great work can start anywhere: You don’t need a big brief for a big idea. DP World is a B2B client, who Edelman has spent years building a close relationship with in supporting their corporate communications. The Move to -15 started with an ask to tell people in the UK about DP World’s role in the frozen food supply chain. It was the kind of hard-working business communications brief we get every day. But because the team approached it in a spirit of child-like curiosity and open-mindedness, we got to something much bigger than where we started.

Great work comes from great partnerships: There’s a common refrain in creative circles that we have to “help our client be brave”. I think that’s too simplistic. We are here to solve problems for our clients. That means honest conversations based in mutual trust, and part of that is really listening to the challenges the client themselves face in getting great work done. That kind of empathy and honesty is especially essential for the kind of game-changing work we aspire to do. At Edelman, we believe that action earns trust, and game-changing business actions start with strong partnerships.

Great work happens when you earn your certainty: We have an obligation to our clients to ground our creativity in evidence and effort. We have to be sure we get it right. In this case, we partnered with an international team of cold chain experts to validate our core finding, confirming there was no risk of making food less safe. We went over the thinking again and again, streamlining it and clarifying it, creating a clear name and brand. We worked with our clients to reach out to their partners, customers and even competitors in the industry ahead of launch, securing support from 60 per cent of the global container shipping industry. Because we were confident, we were able to fight harder to get this done. The idea isn’t enough, you have to make it as strong, clear and compelling as it can be. 

Great work generates its own energy: We were so excited about this work that our excitement was a magnet to the agency. Our client’s belief in this idea energised their business. Everyone was talking about it. Everyone wanted to help. And for us, that was powerful and important because it enabled us to operate as the truly integrated, earned-first agency that we are at our best. Not only our strategy and Impact teams, but the creatives, digital experts, media team, project managers, and the core account team who have spent years becoming experts in global supply chains – everyone was bringing the best of themselves to the work at every point. That energy carried us through some difficult moments when this work came so close to not happening. That energy helped us get to yes a dozen times when a dozen people tried to tell us no.

The reward for great work is that you can do great work: Doing this kind of work teaches you how to do the next piece of great work. You learn the difference between a pretty good insight and a great one. You learn when to get stubborn, refusing to let that great insight go because you know what is possible. You learn that the extra effort – the fifth rewrite of the deck to make the language crisper, the hours looking for the exact right set of facts to build your case – is worth it. And at an organisational level, getting great work out the door helps you build a culture with the muscle memory of how to do great work and the hunger to deliver it.

So, I want to raise a glass to everyone out there who did great work this year – many of whom were acknowledged in Cannes this year, but many more of whom were not. To all of us in the business of creativity, whether you are working on your thousandth client brief, or your first, I wish you joy in your journey to making something great.

A votre santé!

Karin Robinson is the senior director of strategy at Edelman


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