10 Cannes Lions ads to learn from

By Oliver Milman
Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Cannes Lions, the annual global advertising love-in on the French Riviera, has just wrapped up, with Australian agencies picking up 35 gongs for their work.


The festival showcased the best advertising work to emerge across the world over the past year. But does any of it actually resonate with consumers, and can start-ups glean any lessons from the award winners?


According to a survey of “typical Australians”, research firm Firefly Millward Brown says the public appreciates a certain style of marketing.


"Hopefully it’s not a surprise but it might come as a reality check to some in the industry that the public want a little respect," says Pamela Ingall, director of Firefly Millward Brown Australia.


“The findings showed that people don't like to be shouted at, don't want to be treated like idiots and want ads that capture the imagination. Respondents also said the ads needed to have a point, or make them think about the brand.

"A shouting ad might create immediate sales but it will devalue a brand in the long term.


“That's why the creative approach is so important. People need to like the ad and like the brand – it's the combination that creates a winning proposition."


With this in mind, we’ve picked 10 of the best ads to feature at Cannes.


1. NAB’s break-up


The NAB ‘break-up’ campaign won the PR Grand Prix at Cannes and it’s easy to see why. A high-profile TV campaign showed NAB ‘hijack’ the meetings of other banks, but it’s the low-cost ‘guerrilla’ marketing – spray-painted pavements and odd public stunts like this one in Melbourne – that should fire the imagination of smaller businesses.


Michael Halligan, founder of Engage Marketing, says: “They have made a gutsy move in attempting to change market perception while aggressively repositioning the brand.


“While Commonwealth Bank told people that they were different, NAB went out there and showed people that they are different with a product to back it up.”

2. Yellow Pages pizza


The Yellow Pages is regularly written off as obsolete, rendered useless by the all-encompassing power of Google.


However, its attempt to battle this perception was nothing but innovative. It set up a ‘hidden’ pizza restaurant that could only be found by going to the Yellow Pages.


Of course, once the location was discovered it was plastered across the rest of the internet, but it provided some welcome positive headlines for the company. Could you create a similar sense of intrigue and in-the-know mystery to promote your business?

3. Audio Books India


For all the strategy and clever tactics you can put in place for your marketing, sometimes you just can’t beat a clever, attention-grabbing image.


Audio Books India runs the gauntlet of controversy for using an image of Hitler, but the idea is simple and catches the eye. A good pointer if you’re guilty of over-thinking an idea.



4. TAC story


Advertising a worthy cause is often seen as easier than doing so for a business because you have licence to pull on the heartstrings.


Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission does well, however, by reining in the mawkishness to deliver a straightforward, memorable message about the dangers of speeding. Maybe you could introduce a similar storytelling element to your brand?


5. FFA Christmas wrapping


Pitched well, a stunt can garner a huge amount of attention for your business, for minimal outlay.


To promote a Boxing Day soccer match, Football Federation Australia set up a free gift-wrapping service at a Brisbane shopping centre.


The wrapping paper included sly digs at the local team, the Brisbane Roar, as well as details of how to get tickets to the match. The media coverage gained was estimated at $100,000 – for a spend of just $15,000.

Case Study: FFA Christmas Swindle from lowesydney on Vimeo.

6. Virgin Blue Twitter


Many brands have attempted to harness to booming popularity of Twitter, but few have managed more than a token effort of understanding the medium.


Virgin managed to make the most out of the micro-blogging site by sending three Australians on a flight to LA, on the proviso that they Tweeted every minute.


Cue an avalanche of free social media exposure. If you have an experience-based offering, why not do the same?

7. Google’s road trip


Another great experience-based idea was dreamed up by Google, which demonstrated its Street View service by showing a group of American youngsters as they ‘drive’ across the US on a sofa.

8. Canon photo chain


Differentiating yourself from your competition is crucial when you advertise your business. In the example of NAB, you have to offer a product or service that is genuinely different.


But when it comes to a sector like digital cameras, which are much of a muchness, you need to be a bit more savvy. In Canon’s case, it encouraged people to create a ‘photo chain’, luring users of other brands and creating itself an image as a home of creativity, not just technology.

9. Guide dogs scent


Who says that advertising should be confined to the visual or aural? Guide Dogs Australia created a perfume that raised money for its cause. Those who wore the scent could be recognised for their contribution by the blind and visually impaired.

10. Walkers invades Sandwich


Finally, the Grand Prix winner for the effectiveness award was a campaign by UK potato chip manufacturer Walkers.


The brand generated a huge amount of exposure by invading the small English town of Sandwich with celebrities such as Pamela Anderson, Formula 1 driver Jenson Button and English footballer Frank Lampard. All because they wanted to encourage the purchase of their product alongside sandwiches. This idea doesn’t have to be quite so large-scale to work.

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