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PepsiCo's Walker Crisps Wins Cannes Grand Prix in New Creative Effectiveness Contest

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PepsiCo's U.K. potato chip subsidiary Walkers set out to prove that a lunchtime sandwich becomes a more exciting meal when eaten with potato chips, winning the Grand Prix for the first creative effectiveness awards at the Cannes Lions Festival of International Creativity.

What it is: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO discovered that people liked the idea of pairing their sandwich with a bag of crisps, but only did so one in 10 did so at lunch. The creative idea was to prove that Walkers can make any sandwich more exciting, even a small English town called Sandwich. They organized a series of surprise celebrity-led events to turn the sleepy village of Sandwich into the most exciting place in Britain. A famous race car driver became a local taxi driver for a day, a popular boy band surprised a school full of kids, and a celebrity took a turn as the bar maid in the village pub. That content was distributed through PR, TV and the internet. The resulting buzz inspired not only sales but also Walkers own sales force and the retailers who had to be persuaded to put Walkers crisps near their sandwiches.

Walker's: Sandwich

Why it won: To enter the new creative effectiveness category, ads had to have won a Lion or been shortlisted at last year's festival, to establish their creative credentials. "Sandwich" picked up several Lions in 2010. This year's jury gave a 50% weighting to effectiveness, and 25% each to strategy and the creative idea. Besides being a delightful idea, the campaign led to revenue growth of 26%, exceeding the 15% growth target.

U.K. entrants like AMV BBDO also had a clear advantage, because it has been entering the U.K.'s rigorous effectiveness awards for years and know the drill. In one part of the submission, for instance, entrants were required to describe and discount other factors to demonstrate that the results were due to the marketing campaign and not, for instance, to price promotions. Sally Dickerson, one of the judges and managing director of BrandScience in the U.K., said that in response to that question Pepsi submitted about 20 pages citing other factors one by one, and then systematically proving why none of them had been responsible for the sales boost.

The jury: Led by Jean-Marie Dru, chairman of TBWA Worldwide, the 20-person jury is the only one that includes clients. Four marketers with global roles from Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Philips and LG Electronics were judges.

Total number of Lions awarded: A Grand Prix and five Lions.

Who else did well: P&G, an unstoppable force at this year's festival, won two of the five Lions, for the Old Spice campaign "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., and BBDO India's "Women Against Lazy Stubble" campaign for Gillette's Mach 3 shaving brand in India.

What they didn't like: Many of the entrants were clueless, and failed to build an effective case. "We spotted a few themes and the biggest was the link between objectives and outcome," said Giles Hedger, a judge and Leo Burnett's group chief strategy officer. "A lot of the entries lacked clarity between the opening and closing chapters and that's what frames the story. You need to have a clear model about how you intended it to work. Some papers could describe that you do this, and this is what will happen, and show how it happened. Others said we did great stuff and a lot happened. "

Mr. Hedger estimated that of the 142 entries, about one-third were potential contenders for a prize, one-third hadn't prepared their entry well enough to be considered, and one-third didn't have a strong enough case to win even if they entry itself had been done perfectly.

What's ahead: Mr. Hedger and a few other judges will prepare a mini-white paper to guide next year's entrants and the festival management in how to put together an entry that will pass muster with a jury looking for a clear, well-documented connection between creativity and effectiveness.

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