News & Views

Cannes Lions / PR Winners

by Chloe Markowicz

Coop supermarket in Sweden won the Grand Prix in PR at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival for a campaign that got people thinking about the benefits of eating organic food.

To highlight Coop’s commitment to organic farming and encourage people to change their diets, agency Forsman & Bodenfors in Gothenberg conducted a study on a Swedish family. The Organic Effect saw the Palmberg family switch to organic foods for two weeks and an online film chronicled how the family’s urine tested positive for several pesticides until they ate an organic only diet.

The Organic Effect beat out 2,300 other entries to win the top prize.

John Clinton, PR jury president and North American head of creative and content at Edelman, described the winning campaign as an ‘incredibly powerful idea’. The jury was also impressed with the campaign’s ‘incredible results’, with Clinton joking that ‘PR people are a little more rational than ad people.’ The agency reported that the campaign led to a 20% increase in Coop’s organic food sales and 57% of people who watched the campaign film said it would make them buy more organic produce.

Speaking about the jury’s decision, Clinton explained that they were looking for ideas that ‘didn’t demand attention but earned attention. He added, ‘This actually got people to pay attention in a surprising and somewhat alarming way and caused a reaction and a change in the business.’

The jury in particular was looking for campaigns that made an impact in the brand’s local market. He said that several of the campaigns entered had coverage in international publications, but didn’t pick up earned media locally. Clinton added: ‘It’s safe to say that every single campaign we saw “blew up the internet”. That seems to be the opening line of every case [study video], so to be honest, we started discounting that.’

Clinton also spoke about how many of the entries in the PR category tried to do good, but these causes were not always related to the brand’s business, unlike The Organic Effect. ‘Helping your family be healthier, that’s a brilliant cause to tie to a supermarket,’ he said. ‘Some of these other [campaigns] were so tangential that we really struggled with them. We know business needs to get more involved and show more of a leadership role in helping to solve society’s problems, but it has to be related to the business.’

As is the annual traditional at the festival, the press conference about the PR Lions included a discussion about the fact that advertising agencies are always better represented among the winners in this category than PR agencies. Clinton’s response was that the jury didn’t focus on whether a campaign was done by a PR or ad agency: ‘We just looked at what was the best idea. I don’t think this is about a ranking of the different disciplines. We’re here to celebrate the best ideas.’

The PR jury handed out a total of 19 Gold Lions. These winners included the Nivea Doll by FCB Brasil in Sao Paulo, The Edible Six Pack Rings for Saltwater Brewery by We Believers in New York, The Swedish Number for the Swedish Tourist Association – via INGO Stockholm and Van Gogh BNB for the Art Institute of Chicago – via Leo Burnett Chicago.

Cannes Deconstructed