Contagious Cannes Contenders (part two) 

The Contagious team’s favourite campaigns that we think should win at the Cannes Lions festival

We rounded up the whole Contagious team in a room and made them fight it out to choose the campaigns that we would have chosen if we were on a Cannes Lions jury. While some of these are absolute shoo-ins and are sure to collect some hardware, we've also highlighted some dark horses that the industry hasn't lavished in as much attention but that we think are brilliant too.

For more of our favourite work, check out part one of our Cannes Contenders 2019 list.

Patrick Jeffrey / Head of Advisory, UK 

Adidas / Billie Jean King Your Shoes

This year, the majority of Cannes build-up has focused on Adidas’ biggest competitor, and with good reason. Dream Crazy-slash-Crazier is the odds-on favourite to win a Grand Prix in 2019, helped by the fact that Wieden+Kennedy has made a masterpiece of a case study video for the campaign (see part one of our 2019 Cannes Contenders).

But it would be strangely fitting if, amid all this Nike mania, Adidas swooped in and stole the show with a campaign that was specifically designed to, well, steal the show. Billie Jean King Your Shoes, by TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York, could have been such a straightforward anniversary celebration: remind people of the tennis legend’s monumental and symbolic victory by releasing a new pair of limited edition sneakers. That’s what most brands do, right? 

But that’s not what Adidas did. 

Instead, the brand’s decision to spray paint any pair of shoes in the iconic blue (worn by BJK in 1973) elevated the campaign from predictable-yet-emblematic idea to one that was far braver, and far more memorable. And it transformed the essence of the activation from a timely sales push into an inclusive movement that let people vote with their feet. 

And, perhaps, the Cannes jurors might just do that too. 

Dan Southern / Strategy Director 

MedMen / The New Normal

​When you picture an advert for cannabis, what do you see? If you’re struggling to get anything more than the type of colourful paraphernalia paraded around London’s Camden market, this year’s Cannes Lions could change all that.

Decriminalisation and legalisation in a number of US states is birthing a market that, according to BDS Analytics will be worth $22bn in 2022. Among those vying to lead the nascent sector is LA-based MedMen (which we’re featuring in our upcoming issue of Contagious Magazine out later this month). For my money, its Spike Jonze-directed commercial, via Mekanism, is worthy of a toke or two from the Film jury.

The New Normal stubs out stoner images that might have prevented people from entering one of MedMen’s 22 slick retail premises. Instead it deploys the Founding Fathers, prohibition, hippy culture, and classic propaganda in a series of moving museum dioramas that culminates in modern suburban familiarity. To achieve maximum impact, Jonze enlisted a cast made up only of people who had personal experiences with the themes explored in the ad. It worked.

With MedMen and Canadian Hexo also leading seminars during the festival, 2019 is the year that cannabis arrives at Cannes.

Bethan Ashman / Researcher / Writer 

Burger King / The Whopper Detour

I think we can safely say that the question isn’t if Burger King will win something at Cannes, but which of its jaw-dropping campaigns will take home the most Lions. Burger King’s extraordinary journey at the industry’s biggest event of the year began in 1969 when the brand took home its first silver Lion and long has it reigned. In 2017, BK won Creative Marketer of the Year and in 2018 it snatched 24 awards from Cannes’ clutches.

Over the last 12 months, a lot of campaigns coming from the fast food brand have been geared towards driving app downloads. David São Paulo worked with BK in Brazil to create an app that had a built-in AR feature. Users could point their phone at any McDonald’s ad and earn a Whopper while they watched the BK rival’s ad burst into flames (300,000 app downloads in three days, just saying). In Mexico, Burger King even managed to increase in app orders by 63% in one month, with the help of New York-based creative agency We Believers. How? By delivering Whoppers to commuters stuck in traffic jams. 

But the stand out recent Burger King campaign has got to be The Whopper Detour. Last year, Burger King (with FCB New York) sold its Whopper hamburgers for $0.01, but only if customers were within a 600-foot radius of a McDonald’s. To access the deal, people had to download the BK app and as soon as they approached a McDonald’s, the app would redirect them to the nearest Burger King. Not only is this another example from the brand of hilarious PR-driven trolling but it bloody worked: the app reached number one in the App Store’s Food and Drink category within a few hours of the campaign’s launch, resulting in a 700% in-app sales increase. Is it just me or can you hear the Lions roaring too?

If you’re a Contagious I/O subscriber, read our in-depth brand spotlight on Burger King here.

Katrina Stirton Dodd / Head of Trends 

Tesco / Unforgettable Bag

How do you turn something people see as rubbish into something worth keeping? 

If the past 18 months of headlines about plastic pollution has shown us anything, it’s how remarkably adept people are at both understanding an issue and steadfastly failing to really do anything about it all.

Making peace with the fact that the moral argument was not working, Grey Malaysia came up with an alternative approach to encouraging Tesco’s shoppers to repeatedly re-use their bags. By rewarding them with a discount that could be applied by scanning the barcode on the bag – instead of making them feel bad for forgetting to bring one with them – they pushed bag re-use up from just 5% to 68% in the month following the launch of the Unforgettable bag.

And with a budget of just $10,000 to work with, the agency created a universal incentive that would appeal to EVERY shopper, not just those that felt compelled to help the environment. 

As Graham Drew, executive creative director of Grey Group Malaysia told us: ‘Great ideas power themselves, they ride the news agenda, they inspire conversation and don’t have to pay to get attention – quite the opposite, they are their own media.’

It may not be the sexiest thing presented at Cannes this year, but it’s real, it’s effective and it’s meaningful – all qualities that sage industry veterans complain go missing in action at Cannes each year.

Bonus tip: If Beyoncé’s Homecoming film gets entered in Entertainment for Music, it wins.

I/O subscribers can read our interview with Graham Drew, executive creative director at Grey Group Malaysia, to find out more about the insight and strategy behind the campaign.

Becky Adeyeye / Researcher / Writer 

Netflix / Narcos, The Censor’s Cut
Everyone knows Narcos is not exactly one for the kids. So how did Netflix promote the show in Thailand, a country where censorship laws are so harsh that just last year a film was banned because a monk was… crying? By following the censorship laws down to a T. 

Netflix, with J. Walter Thompson in Bangkok, took out the ‘offensive’ parts of its ads, leaving the instantly recognisable Photoshop chequered pattern so that the silhouette of what had been removed was visible. When even that was considered too inappropriate, the brand placed blank ‘banned’ ads on the streets of Thailand.

The result? Well, it turns out the more people were told that they couldn’t see the risqué scenes, the more curious they got: 34 million people took to social media to talk about the show and some even censored clips on behalf of Netflix. All I’m saying is, you know a campaign is doing well when it reaches ‘meme status’ and I guess the people of Thailand are not ready to give up their s*x, dr*gs and viol*nce, just yet.

Chloe Markowicz / Editor 

Aeroméxico / DNA Discounts

Ah, Mexico, the land that has given the world so many glorious things: burritos, tequila, Salma Hayek. What’s not to love? And yet some gringos wish that Mexicans would stay on their side of the border and have no desire to visit the country.

This wasn’t exactly good news for Aeromexico, the country’s biggest flight carrier, which needed a way to increase flights from the US to Mexico. So the airline, with agencies Ogilvy Mexico City and Ogilvy Bogotá, decided to offer discounted flight tickets to Americans who could prove their Mexican heritage by taking a DNA test: the more Mexican they were, the larger the discount.

I love this campaign because it did something that’s so necessary in this polarised world: it actually got people to confront their prejudice.The dumbfounded faces of the Texans is the case study video who discover that they have Mexican blood are priceless.

It’s also a great example of advertising that doesn’t exist in a vacuum but reflects the current socio-political climate. The campaign actually came out in mid-2018, but went viral during the time of the US government shutdown (which happened because Trump was trying to secure funding for the US-Mexico border wall). And best of all, it worked. According to the agencies, flights to Mexico increased by 33%. Viva Mexico!

If you're an I/O subscriber sign in here to read our interview with Mariana Cárnedas, chief strategy officer at Ogilvy Bogotá, and find out more about the research that ensured Aeromexico targeted the right people with this campaign.

Georgia Malden / Senior Strategist 

CountryTime / Legal-Ade

Brand activism, social purpose, taking a stand. This has it all. But before you roll your eyes, this isn’t a worthy, hollow brand gesture. It’s a fun, smart and totally on-brand PR coup from the Kraft Heinz lemonade brand Country Time, working with Leo Burnett Chicago

When news emerged last summer of police shutting down children’s lemonade stalls for not having the right permits, it raised the hackles of many of us who have fond memories of our own stalls from bygone summers. Cue the perfect opportunity for Country Time, the self-proclaimed ‘Official Lemonade of Lemonade Stands’, to step in and stand up for the little guys with its dedicated ‘Legal-Ade’ team.

I doubt Country Time’s legal team are being run off their feet, but I applaud this for its cute, low-budget opportunism. It nicely associates the brand with some good old American values (Entrepreneurship! Good work habits! Good old-fashioned fun! Justice!) and cements Country Time’s associations with summer family time and lemonade stalls. 

Granted this isn’t going to save the world, but for being quick to jump on the opportunity to reinforce the brand’s values, and for hitting the right tone of nostalgia and humour, I hope it gets some accol-Ade.

Becca Peel / Strategist 

Bodyform / Libresse / Viva La Vulva

Shock and bloody awe. That was my overwhelming response to this film of animated visual metaphors for vulvas (oysters, grapefruit, fortune cookies) singing. While I have always believed in advertising’s power to shape culture, I think this was the first time in my lifetime that I have experienced it first hand with so much immediacy, personal impact and flare.
Viva La Vulva, created by AMV BBDO London, feels completely left-field and yet strategically it’s the perfect build for a brand whose tagline is ‘Live Fearless’. Executionally, this is a film that combines confusingly beautiful and visually intriguing imagery with a backing track (‘Take Yo’ Praise’ by Camille Yarbroug) that inspires the same level of catharsis as Missy Elliott’s ‘Get Your Freak On’ in the This Girl Can launch spot.
For following on from last year’s Blood Normal campaign, with a compelling, transformative and equally taboo-breaking film about body positivity that doesn’t fall into ‘worthy’ territory, Viva La Vulva gets my vote.

Contagious subscribers can read our in-depth brand spotlight on Bodyform here.

If you'd like us to bring the best work, key trends and brightest ideas from Cannes Lions to your office for your team or as part of a client event, book our Cannes Deconstructed briefing. Based on behind-the-scenes access to jury presidents, press conferences and the teams behind the Grands Prix-winning work, Cannes Deconstructed delivers a week’s worth of Cannes in one, insight-packed hour. To find out more or book a Contagious Cannes Deconstructed briefing, click here. 

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