Cannes Lions: Brand Experience & Activation winners 2023 

EA Sports & Apple score the Grand Prix in Brand Experience & Activation for putting the characters of Ted Lasso into FIFA 2023

The Grand Prix for Brand Experience & Activation at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been awarded to Apple and EA Sports for placing the fictional AFC Richmond team from the TV show Ted Lasso into the FIFA 2023 computer game.

The campaign launched in September 2023, a week before the new football game was set to be released and featured all of the team’s players and coaches as in-game avatars. To kick off the campaign, which was created in-house amongst the two brands, the official Ted Lasso Twitter account tweeted a picture of the actor’s face being motion captured for his avatar.

The tease was then followed by a launch film that confirmed the partnership, with actors from the show and real-life footballers such as Ian Wright and Wayne Rooney discussing why the character Ted Lasso is a great manager – helping to bring the fictional world to life.

The case study claims that, with no earned media, the campaign generated over 2,000 articles and 13.2 billion earned media impressions in just the first 30 days. In addition, the AFC Richmond Team was the 17th most played-as team in FIFA 23 – out of more than 700.

Jury president Ari Weiss, who is also the global chief creative officer at DDB Worldwide, was not at the press conference in Cannes when the awards were announced. But in an exclusive interview with Contagious, Weiss said that Ted Lasso x FIFA 2023 was ‘The epitome of what brand experience is in 2023.’ Weiss continued on to praise the campaign saying that ‘This is marketing in all its splendour [and] in some ways almost ceases to be marketing [because] it’s so seamless from an experience perspective that the brands don’t disappear, they become immersive,’ said Weiss.

On defining the category and judging criteria, Weiss said that it was important for the work to demonstrate ‘an interaction where the audience is left fulfilled,’ adding that ‘For a while we’ve been so focused on trying to understand and control the fragmenting media landscape, when the real reality is of understanding your audience and when and where is the best place to have a conversation.’

Weiss also commented on the need for the top winning campaigns to demonstrate real world business results. ‘We could come up with the most creative piece of art that we could possibly come up with, but if you place something like that out into the world and it doesn’t have any impact on the brand, we become artists, not great marketers. We don’t want to send a signal to the industry that we should be chasing stuff for creative vanity’s sake,’ he said.

Brand Experience & Activation Gold winners:

See My Skin, for Vaseline by Edelman, New York

World Cup Delivery, for Pedidos YA by Gut, Buenos Aires

Knock Knock, for Korean National Police Academy by Cheil Worldwide, Seoul

The Closer for Heineken, by Publicis Italy and Lepub, Milan

Missing Matoaka, for Muskrat Magazine by BBDO, Toronto

The Last Photo, for ITV x CALM by adam&eveDDB, London

Airtel 175 Replayed, for Airtel by Leo Burnett, Mumbai

ADLaM – An Alphabet to Preserve a Culture, for Microsoft by McCann, New York

Heaven Fish, for Regal Spring by Ogilvy Honduras, Tegucigalpa

Certified Care, for Raid by Energy BBDO, Chicago

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