Cannes Lions

Forsman & Bodenfors Campaign for Swedish Supermarket Wins Top Prize for PR

Continues Trend of Creative Agencies Winning Top Prize in the PR Category

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From the Cannes Lion PR campaign winner
From the Cannes Lion PR campaign winner Credit: Coop courtesy of Forsman & Bodenfors.

Swedish creative shop Forsman & Bodenfors' "The Organic Effect" for client Coop took the top prize for PR at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The winning campaign, which furthered a cause and generated impressive sales results, continues the trend of creative agencies winning the top prize in the PR category.

Last year, a PR agency won in the PR category for the first time, but the campaign idea had originated at the creative agency. In previous years, other types of agencies won the top prize in the category. This year, once again a creative agency has come out on top.

"We have to remember this is one part of what PR agencies do. We have people in the room who specialized in crisis, corporate, in CEO profiling," said John Clinton, North American head of creative and content at Edelman and PR jury president. Still, there's hope. "I think what you see going on in the PR industry is much tighter integration. We're moving toward earned centricity and will see PR continue to rise."

In "The Organic Effect," Swedish supermarket client Coop partnered with the Swedish Environmental Research Institute to study and document what happens to the members of a family, and their bodies, when they switch from conventional food to organic food. The study and documentary showed that when the family switched to organic food, both the occurrence and the number of pesticides in their bodies were reduced. The video was viewed 35 million times, sales of organic food grew sharply and Coop had its best year in two decades.

"It got people to pay attention in a surprising and somewhat alarming way and it caused a change in business," said Mr. Clinton. "We found that to be worthy of the grand prix."

"We had cause fatigue. We were sitting there looking at some of the things people stick onto their brands and you're like how the hell did that come about," he said. "Then when you see something that is brilliant. When they're talking about helping your family be healthier, that seems to be a brilliant cause to tie to a supermarket."

Although there's a pattern in Lions winners being tied to a cause, the most creative campaigns don't necessarily need to be tied to a cause, agreed Mr. Clinton and Andrew Robertson, CEO of BBDO and jury president for creative effectivess, during the press conference. Still, "a cause helps you attract attention," he added. "I'm a recovering ad guy. In the old days, we talked about video vampire," he said, describing the use of something so visual it overshadows the brand message. "Now, I think we have cause vampire."

Mr. Clinton also admitted to "emoji fatigue."

"We had lots of arguments, and not an easy time at it," he said. "Yesterday was one of my more challenging days as a president."

The other two grand prix contenders were also from Swedish shops. "The House of Clicks," from Prime Stockholm for client Hemnet, designed a home based on data detailing what consumers want most in a home. More than 600 signed up to buy the home.

"Bees Can Find Sugar Where you Least Expect It" was the other campaign. Nas Grunt and its agency McCann Erickson Prague set out to prove that bees can make honey from food people don't associate with sugar. "[The fact] that bees can make honey out of a hamburger is a scary thing," said Mr. Clinton. "It makes a strong point about sugar."

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