News & Views

Cannes Lions / Promo & Activation Winners

by Patrick Jeffrey

Outdoor clothing retailer REI has scooped this year’s Promo & Activation Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions festival of creativity.


The US brand’s #OptOutside campaign, by Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, saw REI close all of its stores last Black Friday – traditionally the biggest day of the year for American retailers. Instead, REI encouraged both its staff and potential customers to shun the chaos and experience the great outdoors instead.

Jury president Rob Reilly – McCann’s global creative chairman – said it was ‘such a simple idea’ that took a stand against capitalism in America, ‘the country where capitalism was invented, or at least perfected'.

A large portion of the Promo & Activation jury pushed for DB Export’s Brewtroleum to be awarded the Grand Prix, reported Reilly. The campaign, by Colenso BBDO in Auckland, used waste materials from the brewing process to create biofuel that emits 8% less carbon than traditional fuels.

Reilly also talked about the criteria by which they judged all the campaigns on the shortlist. Firstly, they focused on big brands; secondly, they identified purpose-led marketing; and thirdly, they were very harsh on charities and NGOs. Only one piece of work awarded was done by a charity.

‘We want to send a message to young people: doing charity work is important - you can win some awards - but doing work for big brands that solves big problems using creativity, that will make you famous.’

In total, 306 campaigns made the shortlist from 71 different countries. Work from 26 countries was awarded on the day.

Cannes Deconstructed