The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is easily a week-plus-long exhibition of excess, from the free-flowing rose, to the yachts, to the expensive outfits and the bling -- not just that worn on wrists and necks but also in the form of the awards trophies presented to the winners on stage. For an agency to purchase an extra Gold Cannes Lion, for example, they'll have to fork out about $1500.
A creative team from BBH New York, Casey Schweiker and Liz Loudy, took a step back from it all and thought, what if you took that money and put it toward something a little more important -- like feeding the hungry? The agency, along with humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger, backed their idea and has debuted the "Can Gold," which is basically a spray-painted can of beans that festival-goers can buy for the same price of a Gold Cannes Lion. That's not really how much it cost to create the thing, of course, but that $1500 will go to helping Action in its quest to help feed malnourished children around the world.
According to the agency, $45 can bring a severely malnourished child back to health in 45 days, so for the price of a Cannes Gold Lion, you could help save 33 lives.
"It's hard to ignore all the spending going on in Cannes," said Ms. Schweikert in a statement. "So we started thinking about where that money could go instead."
"While we can't personally do much from our offices and desks to help, the fight against hunger, we can help fund the incredible work that Action Against Hunger does," said Ms. Loudy.
During the festival, BBH will be tracking all the Gold winners and sharing them on the Can Gold website, so followers can tweet to them and suggest where they could put extra trophy dollars.
According to BBH New York CCO Ari Weiss, "At first I was skeptical and I didn't want it to look opportunistic, but I think Liz and Casey found a simple, earnest way of doing it and for the right cause."
Mr. Weiss said he, along with other top BBH leaders including founder Sir John Hegarty, Global CCO Pelle Sjoenell, will be pimping the "Can Golds" along the Croisette next week.
"We're not going to buy any Gold Lions this year and we'll put the money to this," he said. "Basically, this is saying, you win a Gold Lion and it feeds your ego, but how much better does it feel to save 33 children's lives? We're not diminishing the festival. It has many fantastic reasons for existing and helps to propel careers. But we're just saying that instead of buying the extra Lion, why don't you put those funds to some good use?"
Last year, MullenLowe Group conceived a similarly-themed initiative "Can Your Lions," in which the agency pledged to donate the replacement value of all the Cannes trophies it won that year across its global network to support earthquake relief efforts in Nepal. It also invited other agencies and marketers to do the same. Ultimately, it took home 32 Lions, and McCann Worldgroup and Marcel joined the initiative, leading to a more than $100,000 donation that would support more than 210,000 days worth of food. The effort continues for 2016, but this time, the agency is aiming to succeed donations to provide for more than 1 million days of food.