Interpublic's McCann Lima and Coca-Cola took home a Grand Prix in the media category for the "Happy ID" campaign, which used the Peruvian government as its primary outlet.
Havas Lima was the media agency supporting the effort.
What it is: The "Happy ID" project aimed to make Peru a happier nation by encouraging people to smile in their photo IDs. Coke-branded photo booths were set up in 30 spots across the country, including next to the RENIEC (National Identity Registry), that were activated only when the person smiled.
The project was created in response to research that showed Peru at the bottom of worldwide happiness charts, despite its economy growing. The campaign was supported by a website, out-of-home activity, TV and radio sponsorships, press and TV, while local celebrities were hired as campaign ambassadors. Coke also collected a database of its "Happy ID" holders and sent them special offers in conjunction with partner brands.
Why it won: "It was a brilliant idea with brilliant use of media and what media is today, which is everything," said Matt Seiler, media jury president and CEO of IPG Mediabrands. "It was not a digital idea, an ambient idea and not an out-of-home idea. It was all of the above. It also used a very unusual channel [the government]."
The effort inspired smiles in 90% of the IDs made by the government during the campaign.
The jury: The festival tapped a jury of 40 executives as part of a three-day submission vetting process. Only 12 jurors participated in the final deliberation, led by Mr. Seiler.
That's a departure from last year's much larger media jury. "The ability for 12 people to agree to things is obviously greater than 28 or 40," said Mr. Seiler .
Hot topic at press conference: A smaller jury was part of an attempt to avoid accusations of coalition-building and corrupt decision-making that's tainted the media category in the past. For example, in 2012 jurors cried foul over the short window -- six days -- to review 3,247 entries and several alleged some judges were egregious in supporting their own companies' work.
This year, the jury emphasized that the process was squeaky clean and collaborative thanks to the size of the jury and an updated voting process. Jurors voted on individual tablets, vs. as a group, said Mr. Seiler.
"It was heightened in the industry as something that was a problem and that made it onto our radar," he said. "We didn't sign up for that and Terry [Savage, Cannes Lions Chairman] and the team made sure there was no coalition building."
Controversy or clear winner: "Happy ID" was a clear winner, but one exec on the jury said the judges also really liked a campaign for Hindustan Unilever's Kan Khajura Tesan brand, by PHD India and Lowe and Partners Mumbai.
"Ultimately the Coke case edged out because of the consistency with the brand message and the use of all media, like using the government as a channel," said Mr. Seiler during the press conference.
When asked what surprised the jury this year, juror Colin Kinsella, CEO of WPP's Mindshare in North America, said it was old media like outdoor and radio becoming new again. He referenced "Rescue Radio," an international campaign for Sawa Mninjah that used mobile phones as radio devices so people could get news.
Lions awarded: The jury whittled down around 3,000 submissions to an initial shortlist of 350 and eventually cut that down to just over 90 medalists.
Of the 13 Gold Lions awarded, the U.S. was represented once for Constellation Brands' Luna Corona campaign, by Cramer-Krasselt Chicago. The other Gold Lions came from a variety of international contenders.
What they didn't like: "We saw a lot of viral videos in the media jury this year," said juror and Global CEO of IPG's UM Daryl Lee in a follow-up e-mail. "It's not enough for a video to be viral anymore. It needs to be part of a sustainable storytelling strategy to have real media momentum."
For more Cannes work highlights, tune into Creativity's "The Best of Cannes."