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Brazil Takes Top Prize in Promo and Activation Category

Ogilvy's Emotional Organ Donor Push, 'Immortal Fans', Awarded Grand Prix

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What it is: There's nothing more passionate than a Brazilian soccer fan. So what if that same zest could be applied to one of the nation's real problems? That was the idea behind the organ-donor push Ogilvy Brazil dreamt up for soccer club Sport Club Recife. Called the "Immortal Fans" organ-donor card, Brazilians were told that their hearts could keep beating for their team -- even after their death, or in the body of a rival team supporter. Cards could be downloaded via an app or received in the mail. The campaign featured real patients on transplant lists. “When my lungs go to a guy from a rival team, he will breathe Sport Club Recife!” exclaimed one donor who was included in the case-study video. There were tearful tales told by others about their lives being saved and program's impact on families. According to the agency, the campaign resulted in 51,000 organ donors and counting. The waiting list for heart and corneal transplants went to 1,000 from zero.

The jury: The 24-person jury was helmed by president Rob Schwartz, TBWA Worldwide's creative president, who is based in the Los Angeles office of the Omnicom Group network. “I'm pleased to say I’ve judged with more women than I have ever in any show, so it’s nice to see that happening," he said. "Thanks to the gals and thanks to the dudes.” In addition to presiding over a diverse jury, Mr. Schwartz laid out some grand rules about how to pick winners. First was ensuring that pieces engaged the consumer and had immediate calls to action. Second, the jury was instructed to look for entries uniquely of this category -- there’s a lot of blur with other categories in the show, and the jury focused on choosing a Grand Prix winner that was decidely promotional. And third, the jury was asked to look beyond examples of good advertising for examples of things they felt "moved by" as humans.

Why it won: Results were a big part of what swayed the jury, and this campaign claimed to improve the organ-donor rate in Brazil by 54%. The campaign also felt like one that could have a lasting impact, which the jury was looking for, especially on the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Lions show. "It's something 60 years from now people will say, 'That was really timely, and yet really timeless,'” said Mr. Schwartz.

Controversy or clear winner? It was a boisterous group and there was a lot of healthy debate about entries, though picking winners in the Bronze Lion and Silver Lion categories was tougher than choosing the Gold and Grand Prix winners. After several consecutive days of talking about the entries, the final votes for the Grand Prix were cast via a quieter process. “This was silent and you reflected on the pieces that you saw [writing the top three votes down on a piece of paper] and then handed it to the Cannes staff," said Mr. Schwartz. "We took the three that rose to the top and put them up on a board and began our conversation.” Once they got there, it was unanimous that "Immortal Fans" should take home the Grand Prix. The other two contenders were "Dumb Ways to Die" -- which has won two Grand Prix awards in 2013 already this week, in the PR and Direct categories -- and another Ogilvy Brazil campaign, "Dove Sketches."

 “The other two are beyond fantastic, and we’re running out of adjectives to describe them," Mr. Schwartz said.  "But that said, we felt that the best celebration of a promotion or activiation put 'Immortal Fans' ahead. It was not an easy brief ... people had to do something,” in this case a very challenging and physical call to action to give away a part of one's body.

Interesting trend: While there was a huge preponderance of hidden stunts and candid-camera-type things, judges are seeing some changes and fewer derivative campaigns, and more of an evolution of entries in this category toward being more integrated, focusing on more than a single component, like a sticker or a digital ad. “There’s a real complexity to submissions we haven’t seen before; there are now numerous touch points to continue your storyline and a choreography of thought,” said Karen Howe, senior VP-creative director at One Advertising in Canada. “A lot of the activiation ideas were done with longevity in mind, not for a short-term sales promotion," said Sabbas Joseph, director at Wizcraft International in India. "That was heartening”

Advice for next year: Agencies, cut out the gimmicky stuff. The judges aren't impressed with stunts without ideas, an overreliance on vending machines as a platform, and what was referred to as "degrading" case-study films that lack intelligent thought. "Tell all the people that it’s a very serious category and stop the strange paintings, stickers, dancing grandmothers,” said Lode Schaeffer, creative and owner of Netherlands-based shop Indie. He implored agencies to keep the quality of this category up because this is what advertising is really about -- about having an impact, activating and creating an effect for clients with your work.

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