What were the main lessons for PR from Cannes 2017?

Once again the marketing industry looks to Cannes for inspiration and lessons on what defines the very best in class work from around the globe. Here’s a top five lessons that struck us about the 2017 winners, and what PR can learn from the Festival of Creativity:


  1. You don’t have to be a big brand to win big


It’s easy to think that the most talked about brands, or those with the biggest budgets are the ones who’ll win big. Of course there were a few of them in the mix at Cannes (like Adidas, Twitter and Burger King); but the big, sexy brands stood very much side by side with National, or even local, organisations that most of the world will have never heard of. Some of the best work of the festival came from ‘Transport Accident Commission’ in Victoria, Australia and the property development company ‘AP Thailand’.



  1. Social good


One of the biggest creative themes of Cannes 2017 was ‘pushing humanity forwards’ – ideas that delivered social change or social good. And it’s not just this year (and not just Cannes) awards in general seems to favour charities and causes – a trend that is set to continue. Now more than ever, brands seem to be doing well by doing good.



  1. Any brand can have a cause


In line with trend for social good, it is worth re-iterating the fact that brands don’t have to be a cause to have a cause. Whilst the narrative towards social change will always be the most direct through a charity, any brand can take the stand and make a difference. In previous years it has been the likes of Always with ‘Like a Girl’ and Dove with the ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’, but this year the unexpected hero of humanity was Whirlpool, with ‘Care Counts’ – an initiative which washes clothes for homeless and poverty stricken children – proving that there are no boundaries for brands wanting to invest in social change.



Whirlpool’s simple social cause – providing schools with laundry facilities


  1. Great ideas transcend any media


The superstars of Cannes 2017 once again proved that it’s not digital, or 360, or integration that is going to win, but just the purity of a fantastic idea that serves a purpose. This year some winners are impossible to categorise in terms of media: a statue (Fearless Girl), a concept (Meet Graham) a room (Van Gogh’s bedroom) and a credit card (Bank of Aland) were amongst the most celebrated ideas.



  1. Subvert, subvert, subvert


Creativity and subversion have always been natural bedfellows, and this year was no exception. The smart, unexpected ideas that seem to disobey the established way of doing things once again won big. Some ideas subvert regulation (Jet.com and the Super Bowl), some subvert convention (Boost Mobile and Boost your Vote) whilst the most memorable seem to subvert culture entirely (IM Swedish Development Partner “The Humanium metal initiative).



“The Humanium metal initiative” created ‘a new metal’ from seized arms.