CANNES (AdAge.com) -- A ton of money went into the Outdoor Grand Prix winner at this year's 56th Cannes Lion International Advertising Festival. But not in the way you would imagine.
The "Trillion Dollar Campaign" for the newspaper The Zimbabwean from TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Johannesburg, South Africa, plastered real Zimbabwean trillion-dollar banknotes onto billboards, murals and fliers, serving as a real-life symbol of the country's record inflation and economic collapse. The campaign ultimately aimed to raise awareness of Zimbabwe's suffering under the Mugabe regime and increase the newspaper's customer base elsewhere in the hopes of getting it back into the hands of Zimbabwe people.
The paper was exiled from the country for exposing the corruption of its government, which subsequently imposed a 55% luxury import tax on the publication, making it unaffordable for the average citizen.
'Dig Out Your Soul'
The campaign beat out the other front-runner for the honor, the "Dig Out Your Soul" campaign from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, for NYC & Co. and Warner Bros., which featured not a single billboard but made innovative use of the outdoor arena, enlisting New York street musicians to perform unreleased tracks from Oasis' "Dig Out Your Soul" in the city's subway stations to promote the album's release. The campaign picked up a Gold Lion and earlier had earned the best of show Grandy award at the Andys earlier this year.
"The discussion for the Grand Prix reflects the larger discussions taking place in the industry," said outdoor juror Jose Molla, founder and executive creative director of La Comunidad. "The contenders were extremely different: one more traditional and the other more forward-thinking. We all agreed that both were good, but to me Oasis redefines what 'outdoor' is and could be, and that's a great thing. The lines are blurry and this could be the last year that a traditional format wins over something that is ground-breaking. Having said that, the actual Grand Prix is a very nice idea: to create awareness in South Africa about the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, they printed the whole campaign in real bills, because they are cheaper than paper. They managed to do something very interesting with a traditional format."
Mr. Molla said the jury was split between the two campaigns and the deciding vote came from the jury's president, Akira Kagami, executive officer-global executive creative director, Dentsu.
Other earlier contenders for the top honor included Leo Burnett's "Share Our Billboard" campaign for James Ready Beer, which applied money to outdoor in another innovative way. The campaign, from Burnett's Toronto office, asked consumers to chip in $1 for the billboards to keep the cost of the brew down, and in turn they would also get their own mugs displayed on James Ready billboards in their respective neighborhoods. Another was the unusual "Melody Road" campaign from Dentsu Razorfish, Tokyo, for Dunlop Falken Tyres, for which the agencies constructed a special grooved road that played a tune only when cars ran over it at 40 kilometer an hour, in order to promote the brand's safety awareness.
Among other Gold honorees were the Alka Seltzer "Dissolve Your Problems" effort out of CLM BBDO Boulogne Billancourt; BBDO, New York's audio mural installations for HBO's "Big Love"; "Storage Solutions" from DDB Germany, Düsseldorf, for Ikea; and DDB, Paris' Boomerang campaign for Greenpeace.
This year's jury awarded 69 Lions total, including 11 Gold , 21 Silver and 36 Bronze. France was the most awarded country in outdoor, with nine Lions total, followed by Germany and the U.S., which each earned six lions, and then Brazil and India, which each took home five Lions.