A spotlight on Cannes Lions Entertainment

This year’s Cannes Lions Festival included a brand new category: Entertainment. 1,843 of the best culture-led campaigns were entered from across the industry and I talked about six of the most interesting at OMD UK’s Festival of Creativity.

I looked at each video with these three thoughts in my head:

  1. What makes this idea great? Is there any one thing that stands out and makes you say ‘wow’?
  2. What do/don’t you like about it? What would you change and what do you love?
  3. What’s your top takeout? What’s the one learning you will take into your next project?

We got the conversation going with three Netflix campaigns:

FU2016 for House of Cards

#NarcosBills for Narcos

FU2016 cleaned up at Cannes, winning 3 Grand Prix in the Entertainment, Mobile and Integrated categories, plus a further Gold, three Silvers and one Bronze. One of the standout features of this work is the fact that Frank Underwood’s fictional world was so perfectly blended with the real American presidential race, across digital, social and experiential channels (the parallels to OMD UK’s Humans launch were not lost on us).

Cocainenomics (which won a Bronze in the Entertainment category) was commissioned in partnership with Wall Street Journal’s Custom Studios and took a deep dive into the truth behind Narcos. It was Wall Street Journal doing what they do best – speaking directly to their audience in their language. It’s not too different from what Netflix did in France with #NarcosBills. The campaign is based on the insight that half of all French bills contain traces of cocaine, so Netflix stamped the name of the show on thousands of notes and spread them throughout the country, using 200 influencers to push them into conversations everywhere. It was a smartly executed play that really resonated with the audience and got them talking – literally spreading the word ‘Narcos’ around France.

I couldn’t get past the ethical discomfort around the Art Heist for Good campaign, but I’m a bit of an art fiend, so that’s only to be expected. In fairness, it was a successful stunt and did everything it set out to do, and operationally, it was pretty slick, too.

But not as slick as Lidl’s Le Bon dinner!

In the past, the low-cost food retailer has struggled to get Swedes on side, so they staged an event that was an exact mirror of the super-prestigious Nobel Prize dinner. From the timing right down to the venue and every single plate of food, it was the same – but they replaced Nobel’s royal guestlist with 1,300 members of the Swedish public and their high-end ingredients with Lidl’s own low-priced product to show that their food is just as good. Then, they live-streamed the whole thing on TV and got diners to rate and talk about the experience on social platforms. 83% of those guests now have a more positive view of Lidl’s product and 76.8% say they’re now more likely to shop at Lidl. Result.

Finally, we looked at Unforgotten Soldiers, the History Channel’s living re-enactment of a black and white WWI photograph. This activation changed the idea of history as being something that purely lives in the past by bringing a specific moment of time into the present. Its detail was the key – an experience like this definitely would not have been as powerful in colour and that is the standout feature. It’s what made passers-by stop and take notice in a busy street, and from a media point of view that’s a good thing: people react and respond to ideas that make them feel, so make them feel!


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