Cannes 2019: Canadian agencies win two Media Lions

FCB/Six and Initiative win Silver for "Back to Africa," while Ogilvy and Mindshare take Bronze for a stunt as part of Hellmann's "Real Food Rescue."

The Media Lions is among the most-entered categories at Cannes, but two Canadian campaigns managed to stand out.

A Silver Media Lion went to FCB/Six for “Go Back To Africa,” a campaign for travel company Black & Abroad that repurposed a phrase often used in racist harassment online and turned it into an encouragement, putting the sentiment over photos of picturesque landscapes travelers could see on a trip to the continent and targeting it to Black social media users that have expressed an interest in travel. Further, an AI platform identified images of Black people traveling from social media (addressing a lack of representation in tourism stock photos) and, while doing so, tagged them with activities, interests and moods. A programmatic element of the campaign then used those images to create and target personalized ads, based on interests.

FCB/Six worked with Initiative on media targeting, Glossy on PR, Rooster on post production and Grayson Matthews on audio for the campaign.

A Bronze Media Lion was given to Ogilvy Canada (along with media agency Mindshare, PR agency Edelman, production house Spy Films and campaign partner MLSE) for “Real Food Rescue.” The campaign, for Unilever’s Hellmann’s brand, won in the Best Use of Events sub-category for taking all of the food at BMO Field during a Toronto FC game and replacing it with recovered food that might have otherwise been thrown out, part of the brand’s ongoing platform to fight Canada’s food waste problem.

Media Lions jury president Karen Blackett, WPP’s U.K. country manager and chairwoman of MediaCom in the U.K. and Ireland, lamented the fact that while there were over 2,000 entries in the category, there was “a lack of excellence” when it came to media execution, with ideas that had media as part of them, but could have “gone much farther” if there was more discussion about the strategy and execution of its placement. Only entries that successfully did so managed to get on the shortlist.

“At the end of the day, we were looking for good collaboration between the medium and the message,” said Karine Courtmanche, Media Lions juror and president of OMG and Touché!. “Some of the planning was very disappointing to us, it made us wonder where the actual media craft was…. Oddly enough, it was one of the weakest sub-categories. And I didn’t submit anything, because I thought it would be too competitive, but after I was kicking myself for not [doing so]. It’s not that media agencies don’t do good work; they just don’t enter as much as creative agencies do and don’t package it as well.”

Having said that, Courtmanche said she was happy to see that five campaigns were able to get two Lions, which she described as a fairly good conversion rate.

The Grand Prix in Media was awarded to “Graffiti Stories” a campaign by AKQA Sau Paulo for Nike’s Air Max brand. Amidst a crackdown by the government on cleaning up graffiti, the brand enlisted Brazilian street artists to update characters in the pieces they had remaining with editions of Nike shoes, allowing sneaker fans to find and scan the pieces in order to get access to the new drop.

“This tapped into the cultural fabric of the city,” Blackett said. “It’s an example of a brand being brave, tapping into something already part of the city, and worked in an e-commerce opportunity. It made the most of the public space, being sustainable and part of the city for the future.”