The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is the most prestigious and the largest advertising festival in the world. It brings together global brands, leading advertising agencies, and creative people from all over the world. Each year around 15,000 marketing and communications professionals from 90 countries visit the Festival. The Cannes Lions juries judge submitted advertising campaigns in 28 different nominees, including video, mobile, print, and outdoor advertising.

I checked the Festival winners over the last 10 years and found a very interesting trend. Ten years ago you could find only a few social ads among the Festival winners. Most of those ads were created on behalf of big international NGOs like Red Cross or Amnesty International. But look in the list of the Cannes Lions winners this year! Almost all of their campaigns are related to social issues, even if they were created for for-profit companies. Let’s talk about the most interesting Cannes Lions winners this year, what social issues highlighted in their campaigns, and finally why global for-profit companies started to pay more attention to social issues.
 

Changing the Game by Microsoft

Did you know that millions of people with disabilities can’t play video games as we can do? Changing the Game campaign was created by McCann New York agency. The campaign was shown during the Super Bowl, and finally, it won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Brand Experience and Activation. The story shows Microsoft’s commitment to build accessible technology that creates an opportunity for all.

“When technology empowers each of us, it empowers all of us. This Super Bowl, follow the inspirational story of passionate young gamers rising to the top of their game with a little help from their friends, family and the Xbox Adaptive Controller.” — McCann New York

The adaptive controller was launched in 2018 by Xbox (Microsoft). The idea of adaptive controller belongs to Spencer Allen, a passionate gamer, engineer and creator. In 2016 an accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. But Spencer customized his own rig with additional joysticks and buttons to continue playing Call of Duty, his favorite video game. This rig became a prototype of the Xbox adaptive controller.

The final version of the controller were built in partnership with The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged.


 

The Carbon Limited Credit Card by Doconomy

This advertising campaign was created by Swedish fintech company Doconomy and Stockholm-based advertising agency RBK Communication. The campaign won the Creative eCommerce Grand Prix at Cannes.

“It’s very difficult to make that kind of payment solution something that consumers are emotionally connected to. It stood out and we couldn’t ignore it right from the beginning. It ticked every box—ideas people would learn from, ideas they’d want to steal, the wow factor. It’s also sustainable and scalable.” — Daniel Bonner, Global Chief Creative Officer at Wunderman and the Cannes Lions jury president.

According to the Paris Agreement published in 2015 by UN Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC), we need to cut down global greenhouse gas emissions up to 50% by 2030 to avoid a significant climate changes. In average every Swedish citizen counts for 10 tons of carbon emissions with 60% caused by their consumption.

The world’s first card with a carbon limit by Doconomy aims to decrease the level of carbon dioxide emissions caused by people consumption. The carbon limits were calculated so that each person can cut their carbon emissions up to 50 percent by 2030. The special app tracks users’ purchases and their carbon footprints. If a customer spend over the limit, the app will block next transactions.


 

The E.V.A. Initiative: Equal Vehicles For All by Volvo

Did you know that women 71% are more likely to get injured in a car accident? Did you know the reason? Most cars are still produced based on data from crash tests with male dummies. For this reason, Volvo launched a special safety initiative–The E.V.A Initiative (Equal Vehicles for All). An advertising campaign was created by Forsman & Bodenfors, a Swedish advertising agency. The campaign was awarded the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Creative Strategy.

“As a woman stepping into a car, you just assume you are as well protected as a man. Unfortunately, this is not true in all cars—which is why Volvo wants to highlight this issue and actually do something about it.” — Sophia Lindholm, one of the campaign creators.

In 1970, Volvo formed a special Traffic Accident Research Team. For the last 40 years the Team analyzed data from 40,000 car accidents. Women and men were represented equally in this data. That’s why Volvo decided that they should be equally represented in car testing.

Volvo’s research allowed to create new seats which has reduced whiplash up to 50%, to update a sensor technology that car uses to tell when the driver is drunk, and to develop safety belts and airbags. Moreover, the company created a digital library and encourages other carmakers to use its research to build safer cars.


 

Black Supermarket by Carrefour

The social advertising campaign “Black Supermarket” was created by French grocery chain Carrefour and Paris-based advertising agency Marcel. It won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Creative Effectiveness and changed the EU food regulations. According to the EU law, farmers could grow and sell fruits and vegetables only included in the Official Catalogue of Authorised Species. Because of that law supported by the agrochemical lobby, customers had access only to 3% of all produced cereal, fruits, and vegetables.

“This case stood up with every single juror and at every phase of the judging it just continued to stand out. It’s one of the most-compelling cases we read, and our verdict could not be more unanimous.” — John Seifert, Worldwide Chief Executive at Ogilvy Global and the Cannes Lions jury president.

French grocery chain Carrefour launched Black Supermarkets to show the absurdity of EU food regulations and to defy the restrictions. The main goal of the campaign was to show agriculture product variety and to reposition “illegal” producers as good farmers.

In September 2018, Black Supermarkets opened throughout the country. In the supermarkets, customers can find around 600 forbidden cereal, fruits, and vegetables. Products were staged in massive herbariums. Moreover, Carrefour signed five-year supply contracts with these “illegal” producers.

Supermarkets’ visitors could also sign a Change.org petition to change the EU food regulations. As a result of the advertising campaign, the Change.org petition got over 85,000 signatures. Moreover, after half a year, the European Parliament signed new food regulations, reauthorizing the sale and cultivation of previously forbidden seeds.