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Creativity doing good – connecting purchase with purpose

by | Jul 3, 2015

Here’s a round up of some of my favourite winning campaigns from this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity where I was lucky enough to be working. The creativity ‘for doing good’ trend continues this year and some of the most powerful work was centred around how a brilliant creative idea can save lives. Whilst technology now dominates the Festival in both that all the key players now attend and technology is now such a key part of many of the award-winning campaigns, some of the best work was simple and comparatively low-fi, amplified by digital and the power of sharing. Unilever’s Keith Weed calls this ‘connecting purchase with purpose’ – you can read a summary of his Cannes talk here. You could summarise the change in marketing as a move from “to the people (broadcast), to with the people (digital), to for the people – (social good).

Volvo’s Lifepaint – an innovation to save cyclists lives on the road, won the Grand Prix in Design and 5 other Lions. It’s easy to see why.


Volvo also hijacked the Superbowl with this brilliantly simple, effective idea. A masterclass in how to ‘out-think’ the completion which won the Grand Prix for real-time activity.

My favourite campaign from the whole Festival was this work – The Gun Shop – that absolutely cleaned up in the Outdoor, Promo & activation, Design, Direct and Experiential categories as well as PR and lobbying. It is a brave, provocative piece of experiential marketing that demonstrates show, not tell brilliantly.

I can’t add anything more to the thousands of words that have been written about the Grand Prix for PR – Always Like A Girl campaign. It’s reviewed brilliantly in this article: Anatomy Of A Cannes Contender by Fast Company .

Vodafone’s Red Light app won the Media Grand Prix. It’s a mobile phone app for women who live in fear of domestic violence. It’s an app that when shaken sends an alert text message and the woman’s location to three trusted contacts requesting help.


Whisper’s #Touch the pickle won the new Lions category founded by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg – The Glass Lion for change – for campaigns that implicitly or explicitly address issues of gender inequality or prejudice.

All of these campaigns show that brands can make a real contribution to improving and even saving lives, whilst working to enhance their own reputations and delivering profit. When I first started in PR twenty years ago these would have been CSR campaigns that ran alongside the brand activity, now they are the brand activity.

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