Goodvertising at 2014 Cannes Lions

Last July, I wrote about Coca Cola’s “goodvertising” efforts. Goodvertising refers to when brands do good stuff that have an impact on people through their creative ideas/campaigns. This category of inspirational life-changing work is the kind that most people in the business aspire to do at some point in their professional life – not to mention, the reason a lot of young folk pursue a career in advertising. It was definitely a reason I joined the industry of communication: I want to be part of an initiative that improves a person’s life at the most basic level with an innovative idea that is human to the core.

Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is an annual festival that acknowledges and awards great creative work. It’s a big deal to win at Cannes because your work is up against the best content produced all over the world. Winning a Cannes Lion is like getting a black belt in advertising. In the past few years, Cannes winners tend to be campaigns or ideas that had 3 things:

a) an unanswered problem
b) useful technology that answered this problem
c) integrated approach based on one human insight

More and more winning campaigns are becoming product-based. Not as in the product that is being sold but as in the advertisers are designing products or solutions to world problems. Technology is a device or facilitator but not the most important factor. The idea is still king. It is increasingly difficult to bring an idea to life that is not condescending yet relevant to the brand’s purpose. It is even more challenging to keep your idea simple: no extra fluff, just an easy low-effort solution. The following were winning campaigns at Cannes 2014 that were just SOME of this year’s best examples of GOODVERTISING:



Lebanon: Would You Miss Me?


I was in Dubai for another weekend and, this time, it wasn’t the same as last February. When I came back a few months ago, my love for you was revitalized and I was happy to be home. This trip was different. For the first time, home didn’t feel like it cared if I was even there. For the first time, I didn’t want to come back.

A year has passed since I stopped to ask myself, “why do you stay?”. A war, a string of explosions, and daily struggles did not scare me and yet, now, I can’t justify my current life choice. The reasons that kept my feet firmly buried in the sand don’t feel comforting anymore, they feel like excuses. I have dear memories but murky thoughts; you’re not what you used to be to me and I don’t know what happened. I am here wondering if I’m limiting myself from the growth that every young adult needs- the kind that is not satiated by rooftop bars, private beaches, and manouche. Growth that comes from being self-sufficient in a functioning forward-thinking society. Have I settled for less than what I deserve? Maybe I woke up, maybe I’m exhausted, maybe I outgrew you. Maybe you don’t want to be who I know you are. Maybe I don’t want to wait until you get your act together, if you ever do. Maybe I need to get my act together first.

Only a few days after returning, I am reminded that danger lurks while the people are concerned with foiled summer plans and football matches. Even I started to wonder how this would affect my social life rather than how it could affect my overall tomorrow or just my drive home from work – that’s when I knew there was a problem. Threats to your safety are not supposed to be seen as an “inconvenience.” I will still defend you to the vacationing foreigner in the hot tub who claims that we’re an aimless doomed country but something has changed. I still love you but something has changed. That future I saw with you is blurry after being in a place with 2020 vision – a place that has a common goal that they’re all working toward, all attempting to make into a reality.

A city can only claim superiority that springs from culture & authenticity for so long before it drowns in its own delusions and inflated pride. While we bask in our rich heritage, destroy what is left of it, and become our own worst enemy, some of our neighbors surpass us in ambition and development leaving us in their towering shadows. We need to work as one, with humility, toward the Lebanon that we dream of while being fully aware that it could slip through our fingers if we lose sight of what really matters.

I’m confident that I’ll find my way back to you. Perhaps then, I’ll be strong enough for the both of us but I feel like I can’t save you at the moment. I need to put the oxygen mask on myself before I try to help you – unfortunately, all the masks here give an inadequate supply leaving me gasping for air.

I have another vacation coming up. Being away for more than just a few days may give us the break we need. However, if I were to leave for good at some point, my greatest fear is that you wouldn’t even notice, you wouldn’t even miss me if I was gone.

But I know I’d miss you.

FIFA 2014: Top 5 Ads

5. Durex – “Don’t Fake It”, Havas Worldwide (TBC)

You’ve got to love condom ads. EXCELLENT thought here. Connecting faking it on the field to faking it in the bedroom is classic Durex humor. Supposedly, it’s not just a joke: Durex conducted a survey that found that 40% of 2,000 men would pick watching football over being with their partner. As for the ad, I wish the execution was better. It looks like an amateur fan video on YouTube – was it?

4. McDonalds- “GOL!”, DDB Chicago

I loved this ad because it didn’t feature any bigshot players. It ranks #4 on my list though because it could have been signed off by any brand and McDo plays no role here. Nicely done but not related to the product.

3. ESPN – “Time Zone”, Wieden + Kennedy

Thinking behind this one is smart: the World Cup being the one time that the entire world is operating on the same time zone to watch the games. Everyone united in their love for soccer: it’s appropriate to the brand and well shot.

2. Nike – “The Last Game”, Wieden + Kennedy

I’ve admired Nike’s communication for years. They know how to get your blood pumping which is perfect when you’re a brand that stands for an active lifestyle. This ad is beautifully crafted and has a story – another great one from W+K.

1. Beats – “The Game Before the Game”, R/GA USA

Normally, I wouldn’t connect headphones to football but Beats was clever. They created a connection prior to FIFA by making their product the thing that gets you into the zone (Hear What You Want). It cuts you off from the haters and gets you ready to take on the game ahead – whether that game is a day at the office or on the field. Using this same insight, they used Brazil’s Neymar Jr. and an excellent track for this spot. I’ve been listening to the song on loop for 3 days. A remix featuring JayZ was released recently so let the repeat continue.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Adidas – “The Dream”, TBWA\Chiat\Day
Only because of the Kanye track. Otherwise, this ad is “meh.”

2. Kia – “Adriana Lima Football vs. Futbol”, David&Goliath

Although the Optima has nothing to do with soccer, Kia made up for irrelevance by using hot Brazilian Adriana Lima to teach men about the real meaning of “futbol.”

3. Hyundai – “Avoidance”/”Boom”, INNOCEAN USA

Another car brand jumps into the race but, this time, their product actually plays a role in the story. The insight here of trying to avoid hearing the results of a game rings true. “Boom” has a cheeky storyline too. Nevertheless, cars aren’t really related to futbol so its purpose is forced.

48 Hours in Bucharest, 36 Hours in Moscow

Recently, I was on two brief business trips. Regardless of how long you’re in a country, it’s imperative to try and absorb something from that place. You never know when/if you may be there again, so you’ve got to take advantage of the chance to learn something new. You may not get a real feel for the destination – after all, 2 days is hardly enough to know a place – but you might still pick up a lesson or two.

In Bucharest

I didn’t interact with the locals or the city too much due to work & weather. What I can say is that the Romanian language is quite lovely. A photographer told me about the roots of the language being a mix of Spanish & Italian with some Russian undertones and a pinch of Portuguese. Throw all those lyrical sounds together and you’ve got something beautiful that is a unique Eastern European Latin amalgam. Besides that, from the streets I did see, the overall city’s appearance has a decadent neglected charm. The architecture is inconsistent in that every street is a mismatched combination of industrial run-down buildings and heavily ornamented Art Nouveau beauties of earthy tones. It’s like seeing a small EDL building next to Miss Havisham’s house. But the thing that made the Bucharest trip hilarious was discovering this show on TV: BeastMaster, the Hercules/Xena LOWER budget version of Dr.Dolittle.

Hotel Ukraina, now the Radisson Hotel, on the Moscow River

Hotel Ukraina, now the Radisson Hotel, on the Moscow River

In Moscow

It seems that Russians have the reputation for being unfriendly straight-faced people. Turns out, this is a cultural misunderstanding. A smile in Russia is not something given to everybody. It must be a genuine smile given to people you know, not just a stranger you’re passing on the street or a customer you’re interacting with. You don’t know them so why should you fake a smile? It’s completely rooted in the historical culture that is reflected in the behavior of the people: old Russian sayings show smiling isn’t encouraged.

Gum, Red Square

Gum, Red Square

The Red Square is a must-see because you get a taste for the grandiose nature of what Russia represents. You’re surrounded by giant churches, the Kremlin, and a Gum (state department store). This Gum has a glass ceiling atrium that resembles the architecture of NYC’s Penn Station in its glory days. St. Basil’s Cathedral, the famous Who-ville cupcake colored church-turned-museum that is a symbol of Russia, is worth seeing even if just from the outside.

St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil’s Cathedral

I asked about a famous Russian dish that everyone’s teta would cook in a certain way. Basically, I was wondering what was the equivalent to our kibbeh. For some reason, I thought it would be beef stroganoff but it turned out to be Olivier salad. The basic Olivier salad is potatoes, boiled carrots, eggs, and peas with mayonnaise but it varies and is considered the necessity at the table when having large gatherings (especially New Year’s parties). It’s the Russian tabbouli, if you will. Stroganoff, on the other hand, became popular after a chef of the Stroganov family cooked it up. It used to be a luxury to have because of the price & availability of meat but eventually, it became a staple dish across the country and the world.

Some other tidbits from Moscow:

– Getting from place to place is very time consuming due to the large distances but mostly because of unpredictable traffic. You never know when a traffic jam is going to keep you stuck in a car for 40 min or 140 min.

– Married folk wear their rings on the right hand. Engaged folk may have a diamond involved just to show the difference but there’s no switching hands.

– Alexanders are nicknamed “Sasha”

– Roosters seemed to be popping up in various forms (decor in the hotel, lollipops in stores). My internet digging says they are a symbol of happiness and good fortune to Russians. Please correct me if you know otherwise.

– The Seven Sisters are a group of 7 skyscrapers in Moscow that have the same Stalin-architectural style. The skyscrapers were built in order to compete with capitalist cities. One is the Radisson Hotel, formerly known as Hotel Ukraina, which sits on the Moscow River. These particular skyscrapers are Gothic/Baroque but there’s some Burj Khalifa Dubai-esque style ones coming up though.

– Black bread, or rye bread, is common. It’s a very dense dark colored bread that’s high in fiber. It’s density is due to the chemistry of the rye and how it makes the dough rise. It’s supposed to be healthier than white bread. Personally, I wasn’t a fan. Unfortunately, I prefer fluffy bread that makes you fluffy too.

– Space Museum came highly recommended. I didn’t get to see it but it’s on the list!

Spa-seeba means “thank you”