Cannes juries have been known to verify whether a winning entry really ran, but this may be the first time judges checked to see if an ad really repels mosquitoes. That's the premise of Go Outside magazine's "Repellent Radio" campaign by Sao Paulo agency Talent that won the Radio Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
WHAT IT IS
A Sao Paulo radio station was programmed to emit a high-frequency signal between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., the peak hours for mosquito bites. The signal was so high it couldn't be heard by people, and didn't interfere with normal programming, but it does deter mosquitoes. The sponsor was Go Outside, a local magazine that encourages outdoor sports and activity.
WHY IT WON
By turning listeners' radios into mosquito repellent, Publicis Groupe-owned Talent used radio for experiential marketing.
"In radio, what's the idea that makes the biggest impact?" asked Jury President Rob McLennan, executive creative director of Net#work BBDO in South Africa. "We're all looking for a piece of work that changes the environment of radio that's never been done before."
As one of the smaller categories, radio had a relatively cozy 15-person jury, the majority of them from predominantly English-speaking countries. (Radio can be a challenging category for non-native speakers of English to judge, since there are no visuals).
CONTROVERSY OR CLEAR WINNER?
"There was a huge amount of debate," Mr. McLennan said. "How do you judge that against a traditional radio campaign?" The vote was split between "Repellent Radio" and a Mercedes-Benz campaign, "Alert Assist," by Net#work BBDO in South Africa. "The debate comes down to, can you use radio to make a difference in the world, and that's a wonderful thing," Mr. McLennan said.
HOT TOPIC AT PRESS CONFERENCE
Did the radio signals really repel mosquitoes? Yes, said Bob Moore, a judge and chief creative officer of Publicis USA. "We did our due diligence and, as far as we know, it worked. It's a fantastic idea."
TOTAL NUMBER OF LIONS AWARDED
Out of 1,784 entries, a 30% increase over last year, the radio jury awarded 55 Lions, including 9 Golds.
WHO ELSE DID WELL?
The U.S. Gold awards went to Wieden & Kennedy, Portland for Old Spice; Euro RSCG, New York, for Dos Equis beer and U.S.. Hispanic agency LatinWorks in Austin, Texas, for Cine Las Americas, a Latin American film festival. For years, LatinWorks has done print and TV ads for the festival using genuine footage of real Latin American leaders saying ridiculous things, with the tagline "If this is our reality, imagine our films." Each year, the agency adds a clever new twist. This year, the twist was to enhance the spots to sound like epic movie scenes, and gradually take away all the special effects, leaving only the absurd but real words.
WHAT THEY DIDN'T LIKE
Although "Repellent Radio" was a popular choice, there was a lot of support for the Mercedes-Benz work.
LOOKING TO NEXT YEAR
An easy mosquito repellent that doesn't have to be bought or applied could potentially be used more widely than the three-week campaign done by Talent, especially in places where mosquito-transmitted diseases are rampant. "It could be broadened, like partnering with the health department [to broadcast] in areas whether there is dengue fever," said Roberto Fernandez, a judge and executive creative director at JWT in Brazil. "There are devices that repel mosquitoes but you don't carry them around with you. Imagine people listening to music and not having to think about mosquitoes."