Wingstop’s “Thighstop” campaign, which responded to a national chicken wing shortage in the U.S. with a fun and engaging virtual rebrand, has scooped the Grand Prix for Creative Commerce at Cannes Lions.
Wingstop's 'Thighstop' wins Creative Commerce Grand Prix at Cannes
The campaign, by Leo Burnett Chicago, saw the brand launching a virtual brand, Thighstop, focused on chicken thighs in response to a national shortage of chicken wings. The items were available for delivery or carryout and the idea was backed by marketing including a video starring Wingstop's most famous franchisee, rapper Rick Ross.
Why it won
The Creative Commerce Lions is the new name for the former Creative E-Commerce Lions, a tweak Cannes Lions made for this year to reflect the different emerging areas of commerce. According to Jury President Beth Ann Kaminkow, Global CEO of VMLY&R Commerce and CEO of VMLY&R New York, the name change opened up more opportunities for "the creativity that we're starting to see in this space," as the jury looked to reward work that not only solves a true business problem but "does justice to the brand with commerce at the heart."
She described Thighstop, which received more than 6.5 billion media impressions and “reinvented the whole brand overnight,” as “huge, bursting with experience and something that's never been done before.” It addressed the topical issue of supply chains and reflected how the world is changing, but it also did so in “such a cheeky humorous and engaging way" that cut through with consumers.
The campaign was able to “look at a pain point, dive into that pain point and come up with a tremendous creative opportunity–something that is truly consumer centric,” said Kaminkow, adding: “How many other sectors and industries are facing this just now? It reflects the time we're in right now and the possibility for the future.”
In contrast to a lot of campaigns that are “so heavy right now,” said Kaminkow, the jury also responded to the humor of the idea. “We wanted to show the creative community that there could also be a lighter side. It’s a good example of when a brand takes itself a little less seriously but comes up with a business solution at the same time. Consumers need lightness as well and our brands can serve a purpose in showing how they handle the difficulties in more entertaining ways.”
Controversy, or clear winner?
The jury awarded three Gold Lions, with one going to Volvo’s “Street Configurator,” by FamousGrey Belgium, an app that let people scan cars in the street to find out their specifications.
Kaminkow told Ad Age that the jury loved the campaign but felt that it was still a little too much at the pilot stage to be the Grand Prix winner, and also that the transaction had less emotional resonance than the Wingstop campaign. “There’s no question that it’s going to change how we think of the auto category in years to come. We loved the data-driven nature of it and how it applied AI, but in juxtaposition to Wingstop, that combination of emotion and creativity made Thighstop stand out.”
The two other Golds went to two campaigns from India: Unilever's "Smart Fill" campaign from VMLY&R India, which encouraged reusable plastic and recycling, and Ujjivan Small Finance Bank's "Shagun Ka Lifafa" from McCann India, which promoted joint accounts among women.
Kaminkow said that the jury conducted extra research into five to 10 of the entries in order to apply rigor. “We trialed every app and went into every website,” she said. “And for example, with Wingstop, we found that thighs are actually on the menu now, as a result of our research.”