Michelob Ultra’s “Contract for Change,” an initiative designed to inspire U.S. farmers to go organic, earned the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The category honors creative work that has had measurable and sustainable impact for a brand. Only campaigns that earned honors or were shortlisted in the previous three Cannes Lions Festivals were eligible to compete for the honor. “Contract for Change” earned nine Lions during the 2020/2021 festival, including the Grand Prix in PR.
Michelob Ultra’s ‘Contract for Change’ wins Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix
What the Grand Prix-winning campaign was
In the effort created with FCB New York, the AB InBev brand invited all U.S. farmers to go organic at their farms, with promise to support them financially in the three years necessary to make that transition. Once they have made the change, Michelob Ultra promised it would become the farmers’ first customer, purchasing crops to produce its organic light lager, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold.
Why it won
Jury President Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer of Mastercard, explained that at the outset of judging, the jury outlined their own criteria for what they expected of the winners. Creativity was the starting point. Ideas also had to fulfill the three typical aspects of creative effectiveness in terms of what they did for the business, for the brand and whether they gave the brand a sustainable, competitive advantage.
Beyond that, however, the awarded work had to speak to the shifting zeitgeist of social responsibility. “You meet the goals of your company, but are you doing something for society, the community, the planet?” he asked.
Rajamannar said the “Contract for Change” didn’t only meet the criteria, it went “above and beyond.”
Since the project's launch, now 104,000 acres are in transition, and according to AB InBev's production forecast, "Contract for Change" will allow Michelob Ultra Pure Gold to grow 25% by 2023.
The effort created a whole ecosystem with long-lasting impact. “It’s much more than a campaign; it’s a platform,” he said. “It did good for the company’s results and brand. It did good for the community and the planet. It did so well on so many counts and we were very happy with where we landed.”
Controversy, or clear winner?
Rajamannar said that once the jury had whittled down the winners, “the winner was very self-evident. It was really fascinating in that sense, that this stood head and shoulders above everyone else.”
Outside of the Grand Prix, there were five Gold Lion winners: Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper’,” which nabbed Outdoor Grand Prix in 2020/2021; The Female Company’s “The Tampon Book,” a subversive attach on unfair taxes on feminine products that earned the PR Grand Prix in 2019; Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” campaign that earned multiple Grand Prix in 2020/2021; Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s “Project Understood,” which earned four Lions in 2020/2021; and Association L’Enfant Bleu’s “Undercover Avatar,” which gave abused children a way to sound the alarm discreetly via Fortnite and won a Gold Lion in 2020/2021.