Selection of award-winning work from WPP agencies at Cannes Lions 2024

Cannes Lions 2024: what won and why

The ‘rejuvenated sense of energy’ that Lions CEO Simon Cook highlighted at the beginning of the festival was very much reflected in WPP’s award-winning work. 

Our agencies were at the top of their creative game at Cannes this year, bringing in 160 Lions between them, including a Titanium, six Grand Prix, 27 Gold, 43 Silver and 83 Bronze Lions, with winners representing 41 different countries.

While conversations around gen AI and technology were a steady drumbeat at the festival, two of the most-lauded ads had human stories at their heart. Remarkably, they both featured 100-year-old women – suggesting that the appetite for authentic, emotional connection is stronger than ever. In the spirit of being ‘bold not beige’, some brands took surprising risks – and reaped the benefits. Others proved that data really can move the dial when it comes to societal change.

Here’s a snapshot of how these creative currents were reflected in some of our winning entries.

The human factor

Ogilvy’s DAVID took home a Titanium Lion and Grand Prix for JCDecaux’s Meet Marina Prieto. The unlikely star of this B2B campaign, which filled unbooked media sites on the Madrid subway, was an unknown Galician grandmother with 28 Instagram followers. Posters of Marina in everyday situations, from napping to watering her plants, featured her Instagram handle and invited the public to follow her. The eye-catching, heart-warming campaign was the outdoor advertiser’s most successful ever, signing up 180 new brands as a result.

Another centenarian, 102-year-old Margot Friedländer, was the subject of VML’s Scholz & Friends’ The 100th Edition for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In the Grand Prix-winning ad, the Holocaust survivor was photographed at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, joining the roll call of cultural icons and global opinion formers in the Brilliant Minds campaign. Her message of humanity, respect and tolerance stood out as a beacon of hope against a rising tide of intolerance.

Fortune favours the bold

This year some global brands took some surprising risks, disrupting and in some cases subverting consumer expectations. 

Coca-Cola tore up the brand playbook when its 130-year-old logo – traditionally an untouchable asset – was deconstructed in a Grand Prix-winning ad. Recycle Me, created by WPP Open X, led by Ogilvy, supported by Ogilvy PR and EssenceMediacom, featured a startling act of iconoclasm: a Coke can being crushed. Thanks for Coke-Creating, created by WPP Open X, led by VML, supported by EssenceMediacom and Ogilvy PR, landed three Golds. Proving that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it celebrated thousands of unofficial renderings of the logo by shopkeepers, bodegas and artists across the globe. This is just one example of innovation that contributed to The Coca-Cola Company earning its first ever Creative Brand of the Year award.

It's a brave client that encourages a conspiracy theory around their brand. And that’s what CeraVe gave Ogilvy PR (Onefluence) licence to do with Michael CeraVe. This Grand Prix-winning immersive campaign harnessed the power of hundreds of content creators to resurrect a Reddit rumour that actor Michael Cera was the product mastermind. The truth was revealed in the Super Bowl TV commercial with a showdown between Cera and a boardroom of dermatologists. A winning combination of humour and celebrity, the campaign delivered 30 billion earned impressions and 25% increase in sales.

An agency responding to a brief with a product rather than a campaign may confound some companies. Not Vaseline. When Ogilvy Singapore approached the brand with the idea of formulating a lotion specifically for the unique needs of transgender women, the company ran with it. Two years of research and co-creation with the transgender community in Thailand resulted in Transition Body Lotion. This ground-breaking campaign, supported by Mindshare, was a worthy winner of the Grand Prix in the Glass Lion category, which honours culture-shifting creativity.

The power of data to effect change

Two entries driven by data demonstrated how AI was supercharging, not replacing, human creativity. With Absurd Promises for Down Syndrome charity ASDRA, VML in Argentina used data to effect a change in a law that requires people with Down Syndrome to renew their disability certificate once a year. This was considered to be an absurd piece of legislation, given that Down Syndrome is an irreversible genetic disorder. To put the issue on the political agenda, VML created an algorithm to measure the feasibility of candidates’ promises in the 2023 live presidential debate relative to a simple change in the disability law. The results of this ‘Complexity Index’ were tweeted in real time and politicians were tagged with a proposal for a new disability law. A change in the legislation was implemented in record time, benefiting more than five million people with Down Syndrome. Absurd Promises earned VML a Gold Lion in the Creative Data: Data Visualisation category.

DEGIRO, Europe’s largest investment app, partnered with AKQA and UN Women to launch Pink Chip – the first live index to track and promote the performance of female-led companies. Using AI to compile an open dataset that measured their performance against global benchmarks, Pink Chip reframes market biases and highlights the benefits of investing in women-led businesses. Launched on International Women’s Day, it notched up 2 million impressions in the first week and attracted 70,000 visitors. The Pink Chip campaign scooped no less than three Gold and two Silver Lions.

Purpose still has its place

Sightwalks by Grey for Sol Cement, Peru, highlighted how innovative cement tiles are helping the visually impaired identify nearby businesses through a new ‘tactile vocabulary’. The project is open source – Sol Cement has waived copyright on the tiles, encouraging adoption by other cities and organisations around the world. A synthesis of creativity and design, the collaboration was another Grand Prix winner, while also taking home four Gold Lions, two Silver Lions and one Bronze Lion. Dove was another brand advocating for societal change with #TurnYourBack. The Gold award-winning campaign by DAVID, Ogilvy and Mindshare used influencers to counter face-altering augmented reality filter Bold Glamour on Tik Tok, extending the reach of Dove’s No Digital Distortion campaign.

And finally, sometimes the creative solution can lie in something tiny. Like a grain of rice. Grey and Maruri worked with Super Extra, Ecuador’s number one rice brand, to create Rice of Glory – an innovative, low-fi ‘golden ticket experience’ which won a Gold Lion for Brand Activation and Experience. Twenty individual grains of rice were meticulously hand-painted by a micro-artist with illustrations of prizes ranging from smartwatches to a trip to the Galapagos Islands and hidden across 200,000 bags of rice with illustrations of prizes ranging from smartwatches to a trip to the Galapagos Islands and hidden across 200,000 bags of rice. During the three-month TV campaign, supported by social media, it delivered 100% sales growth. Proof that something big can come from something really, really, small.

published on

03 July 2024



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