News & Views

Cannes Lions / Outdoor Winners

by Chloe Markowicz

The 2016 Grand Prix winner in the Outdoor category at Cannes Lions did not go to a billboard. Instead this year’s jury awarded beer brand DB Export the top prize for its campaign that created biofuel from the yeast by-product left over after brewing.

The Brewtroleum campaign, created with Colenso BBDO in Auckland, saw the Heineken New Zealand-owned beer brand take over 60 filling stations to offer New Zealanders a new way to fuel their cars.

Ricardo John, jury president and chief creative officer at J. Walter Thompson Brazil, said the outdoor category had changed a lot over the past five years and the Grand Prix-winner was indicative of this shift. ‘It used to be a display category and it’s now a category that really interacts with you,’ John said. ‘It has become a live organism. If outdoor was once a one-to-many medium, now with technology, it has become a one-to-one medium.’

He argued that there are no longer any boundaries to where the outdoor category can go and that it was ‘pointless’ to discuss the technical aspects of the category. ‘When you think about an outdoor work your mindset is set to see a billboard,’ he said. But instead, he said that the jury ‘awarded a Grand Prix that solves a business problem for the brand’. He added, ‘We awarded a Grand Prix that doesn’t take the consumer out of the equation.’

The jury was especially impressed by how the campaign tackled a business challenge in a purposeful manner. The biofuel is made using ethanol derived after brewing DB Exports and emits 8% less carbon that ordinary petroleum, yet delivers the same performance. DB Exports could also get discounts on the fuel when they purchased the beer.

‘This agency managed to claim that if you drink more beer you can save the world,’ said John. ‘It’s easy for me to drink more beer. But how can you give people a good excuse?’ 


Colenso BDDO reported that the campaign resulted in 8.6 million beers sold and sales increased by 10% in a declining market. The brand plans to roll the concept out globally next year.

Brewtroleum faced particular competition from Microsoft’s Survival Billboard, a campaign from McCann London that saw people brave extreme weather conditions as part of a competition to promote Xbox’s Tomb Raider video game. People could then watch the content live online.

Nancy Hartley, Outdoor jury member and creative partner of Rumble Creative & Media in Australia, said that while the judges admired both campaigns, they ultimately decided that Brewtroleum was more inspirational, awarding the Survival Billboard a Gold Lion. ‘One was a really fantastic execution that used a traditional billboard and turned it into a TV medium,’ she explained. ‘It was exemplary in every way but Brewtroleum pushed the category beyond what you would expect. It confronts your thoughts of what outdoor really is.’

She added that Ricardo John encouraged the judges to consider how the campaigns were making a difference. ‘Ricardo also asked us to award things that would be meaningful to people, rather than just 18 people in a jury room. We were really happy that the work we selected did that.’

Cannes Deconstructed