McCann Melbourne, last year's big winner at Cannes, began this year's Cannes Lions by winning the first Grand Prix awarded at the 2014 festival. The agency won the top prize in the Creative Effectiveness category for "Guilt Trips," a campaign for Victoria's regional public transportation authority, V/Line. Coincidentally, the agency swept the shows last year for another piece of work for a transportation company, with "Dumb Ways to Die" for the Australian Metro.
What is is: Parents living in small country towns in Australia wanted to get their kids to come visit. So V/Line created prepaid train tickets for parents to send their children -- along with a healthy dose of guilt. Parents were given guidebooks, while how-to videos on YouTube showed the most effective way to make kids feel guilty. "What we loved was the insight was so fresh and so universal," jury president David Sable, global chief executive officer of Y&R, told reporters at a press conference. He went on to mention how easy to expand the campaign could be -- you could sell this to every train company in the world, he said.
Why it won: Creative Effectiveness only considers work that has previously been shortlisted or awarded. Mr. Sable said that the jury's job was not to judge whether the work was creative -- his peers last year already did that. "Our job was to follow the category definition," he said.
Greg Lyons, VP-marketing Mountain Dew & Energy at PepsiCo, said "Guilt Trips" generated $4 million in new revenue from ticket sales for the company and increased consumers' goodwill toward the brand. "Anything that was on the shortlist was up for a Grand Prix," he said. "But this work was the tightest case and one that no doubt showed that it was a brilliantly executed marketing idea that led to brand growth."
Previous winners of the category have been big brands, like Heineken, Axe and PepsiCo. This is the first time in the history of the four-year-old category that a small brand has won.
Hot topic at the press conference: Six Creative Effectiveness Lions were awarded, along with one Grand Prix. The aforementioned "Dumb Ways to Die," one of last year's most popular campaigns, was shortlisted, but didn't win a Lion. "Real Beauty Sketches," for Dove, also a big winner last year, won a Lion. The jury was asked why "Sketches" didn't win the top prize, despite being, arguably, the most creative campaign of the group. John Zeigler, chairman and CEO of DDB Group Asia Pacific, said that Dove didn't take the prize because it was a continuation of a long-running campaign -- Real Beauty -- which made it hard to isolate business results for just the "Sketches" creative. As for "Dumb," jurors said the case just wasn't strong enough.
Australia won two Lions, along with the Grand Prix, for Virgin Mobile (Havas) and McDonald's (DDB Sydney). The United Kingdom took home three for Lurpak (Wieden & Kennedy London), Expedia (Ogilvy & Mather London), and DePaul (Publicis London.) "Sketches" won the sixth Lion.
For more Cannes work highlights, tune into Creativity's "The Best of Cannes."