Helpful Marketing Campaigns of Cannes 2018

Cannes Lions

We’re big fans of brands’ marketing budgets going toward materially helping improve people’s lives. Ad budgets that directly help people. Even if it’s a little bit.

Cannes has its Glass Lion award, for example, within it’s Good category celebrating “culture-shifting creativity” and recognizing work that “addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice.” Some of these entrants are highlighted below.

But we see an even broader bucket of helpfulness beyond culture-bending.

Until Helpful Advertising becomes its own standalone category at Cannes, here are our picks of 2018 short-listed Cannes marketing campaigns that might fit the bill.

Below are nine examples of brands and their agencies helping people in ways large and small. Some help just a few, some are designed to help more. Some help by reducing stress, saving a few dollars or reducing physical injury. Some do it with humor, some are more serious.

They all look at cutting through the dense media clutter by being helpful to real people’s lives.


Safe Lock: No Phone Distractions

Kids distracted by their phones lead to accidents. Sometimes those accidents are fatal.

In the Netherlands, we’re talking about kids on phones on bikes. Dutch mobile provider KPN and its agency N=5, Amsterdam have proposed the Safe Lock as a solution.

When the bike lock is unlocked — and therefore a signal the bike is in use — it tells the phone to prevent all distractions like notifications and only allows emergency calls.

The marketing campaign has led to an initial product Dutch citizens can purchase.


VR Vaccines: Happier Vaccine Shots

No one likes needles. Especially kids. And no one likes kids stressed out. Especially their parents. And unless you’re in the no-vax clan, you want more kids safely vaccinated against harmful diseases.

With some VR game-like story telling, Ogilvy Brazil and client Hermes Pardini Labs transformed the vaccination process for some kids from a scary experience to an adventurous and fun experience.


Destigmatize Periods

“Society has made women feel disgusted by their periods for such a long time” says Nadja Lossgott, the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO London art director working on client Essity’s feminine care brands Bodyform and Libresse.

The #BloodNormal campaign is the Cannes Glass Lion winner that aims to bend culture a bit and help remove the “cloud of shame” of periods.

As Badger & Winters‘s Madonna Badger, jury president, puts it, “Having 50 percent of the world’s population feel ashamed for something that naturally happens is not good for any of us.”


SafeCap: A Trucker Hat for Saving Lives

GTB Brasil developed a trucker’s cap for Ford Trucks that recognizes when truckers get drowsy and alerts them with light, sound and vibration.

You can’t buy the SafeCap just yet. But, a “GTB spokesperson says they’ve received thousands of requests asking how and where to buy the product.”

“We are working to scale this product,” says Ramos. “And would appreciate any insights or suggestions from partners around the world regarding how to make the SafeCap more effective and efficient.”

“Ford is no stranger to marketing projects that go beyond a one-off concept. Earlier this year in Spain, the company unveiled a smart crib that mimicked a car’s motion and sensory experience to help babies fall asleep, and the response was so strong it became an available option for car buyers.”


Paying the Tampon Tax

It is said the only sure things are death and taxes. In a campaign spearheaded by agency BBH London, the UK’s largest supermarket Tesco reduced costs on their white label feminine hygiene products to offset the 5% Tampon Tax.

Proponents of tax emption say feminine hygiene products should be tax exempt like other basic necessity-status products. In the UK, the tax rate was reduced to 5% in 2000, the lowest rate possible under the European Union’s value added tax law. Tesco is offsetting that 5% tax for its products via this Cannes Glass Lion shortlisted campaign.

How much are we talking about here? Women were paying about $10 million a year in New York State taxes on these types of products when that state exempted those taxes. (In the US, Connecticut, Illinois and Florida removed those taxes. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not have state sales tax.)


Decompressing in Sweden’s 72 Hour Cabin

VisitSweden and agency Prime Weber Shandwick help 5 stressed out people unwind in 72 hours of minimalist Swedish lakefront style.


Deisel: Real Diesel at Knockoff Prices

Diesel offers New Yorkers real Diesel fashion at knockoff prices in this cheeky stunt.


The Homeless Webshop

Referencing the homeless who have to search for a place to sleep every day, this website exists only via a widget placed on any website that cares to host it for a short while. Visitors of TBWA Belgium and Solidarité Grands Froids’ website-inside-a-website widget can purchase items for the homeless, like a cup of coffee, a toothbrush or a hot meal.


Ikea’s Pee Ad: A Cheaper Price for Expectant Moms

This puts a whole new spin on segmenting your markets.


Re:Scam: Scamming the Scammers

Scamming email and phone scammers has become a bit of a thing online. See James Veitch’s Ted talk or search “IRS scam” on YouTube. Even 11 year old YouTubers have gotten into the game of wasting these scammers’ time.

The idea is this: the more of these predators’ time you waste, the less time they have for preying on others.

Not that we should believe a scammer’s numbers, but this scammer says he scams about $10,000 to $15,000 a day from people from around the world and takes a 20% commission. Was he bothered by the YouTuber taking up his time? He claimed he had already hit his quota for the day and was happy to talk at length with the YouTuber.

Scale seems to be an issue. Perhaps AI can waste even more time.

DDB Group New Zealand and client Netsafe bring AI to the “scamming the scammers” genre.

Helpful Marketing

We look forward to the day Cannes devotes a category celebrating marketing based not only on groupings like format or channel, but also based on whether the marketing directly improves people’s lives. We see that helping people beyond their media consumption is not only a great way to matter to modern consumers’ lives, it’s also a helpful framework for how those of us in the advertising and marketing industry can focus the work that we do.

Have suggestions for great #HelpfulMarketing? Let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn.