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Cannes Lions – Our pick of the ads from this year’s entries

Jul 29, 2022

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a global event celebrating the very best in the advertising and creative communications industry. The 2022 awards recognised some amazing work from teams around the world, but what caught the eye of our own Research & Insight Manager, Marc Aston?

Winning a Cannes Lions award is one of the most prestigious prizes in the marketing industry, globally recognised as the pinnacle of creativity. First held in 1946, the 2022 event saw over 25,000 entries across 87 countries – but only 28 of those entrants got their hands on a coveted award.

With 85% of ads sitting below the ‘attention memory threshold’, we’ve seen brands using bolder and, in some cases, more controversial tactics to get consumers caring what they have to say. Tapping into natural human emotions such as shock, empathy, joy and curiosity is a powerful way to drive engagement, especially considering the uniformity that we see in large swathes of advertising.

The winners of the Cannes Lions awards have already been announced, but we’ve picked out five pieces of work that we loved which didn’t necessarily claim a prize on the night.

Most Intriguing – Heinz

This consumer experiment invited consumers across five continents to simply ‘draw ketchup’ – with the vast majority drawing bottles of Heinz, even going to far as to include the famous ‘57’ and vine tomatoes that appear on their label.

It was a fascinating campaign that enabled Heinz to uncover the relationship between their ketchup and consumers, and then project it to the world. Including the drawings on their bottles was an ingenious move that helped position the brand as one that’s owned by their customers – while the hilarious finale showed that Heinz aren’t too big to laugh at themselves.

Watch here

Most Engaging – Channel 4

Channel 4 has been running its ‘Superhuman’ Paralympics campaign for 10 years, but this ad in the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Games (held in 2021 due to the pandemic) took it in a new direction. So often what we see of the athletes is the end result – the victorious final sprint, the last-minute goal – without the enormous amount of training they do to make it possible, but this visceral, emotionally charged ad certainly leaned more into the ‘human’ side of superhuman, taking us into the heart of their backstories.

We saw blisters popping, sick buckets, blood, tears and more, with the window into the daily lives of the athletes providing a compelling reason to watch the Games and see how their stories played out. The brilliance of the line ‘To be a Paralympian there’s got to be something wrong with you’ can’t be understated – a tongue-in-cheek poke at would-be critics that emphasised the incredible sacrifices these athletes make to compete at the highest level.

Watch here

Most Opportunistic – EOS

“Bless your f*cking cooch” – the immortal words from 16-year-old TikTok star Carly Joy that sparked a superb viral campaign by shaving products brand EOS. Her totally organic video opened up a raw, unfiltered conversation about a taboo subject, and EOS really lent into it, teaming up with Carly for a custom line with verbatim instructions on how to achieve a “smooth-ass hooha”.

Needless to say, the line sold out instantly. It showed the power of brands listening to their customers and marketing their product through their eyes in a totally unique, authentic way. As TikTok’s Global Head of Business Marketing, Sophia Hernandez, so succinctly puts it, “communities are the new demographics” – and this campaign is testament to that idea.

Watch the TikTok video that started it all

Best Pivot – Wingstop

This virtual rebrand saw Wingstop temporarily become ‘Thighstop’ in response to a nationwide shortage of chicken wings in the US. A fast and incisive pivot, it included a viral marketing campaign starring Wingstop’s most famous franchisee, rapper Rick Ross, explaining that consumers could still get the flavours they love, now in thighs.

With the price of chicken wings inflated, Wingstop embraced the challenges of their business model and switched to an affordable alternative, despite essentially being in crisis management mode. You can only do this successfully if you approach the change with confidence and a sense of humour, and the brand had both by the bucketload. In fact, it was so successful that consumers continued to request Thighstop products long after they had reverted back to their primary identity. Could we see Thighstop return for a limited run in the future?

Watch here

Most Peculiar – Lay’s

If you like a snack while watching YouTube videos, then Lay’s have got your back. This ingenious campaign (or ridiculous, depending on your viewpoint) saw the brand release a plug-in for Google Chrome which detects the sound of crunching crisps and automatically turns on subtitles for the video you’re watching.

You can’t argue with the numbers, though! Originally launched in Vietnam, it scored +1,085% engagement compared to previous campaigns, $9m in earned media and a global reach of 210m, all on a budget of just $15k – an ROI of 600:1. Lay’s campaign found a highly sharable solution to a minor problem caused by their products, and placed their branding on millions of devices around the globe.

Discover the plug-in

They’re our picks, but what do you think?

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