3 Lessons from the Social Media Campaigns that Ruled Cannes Lions

"Fearless Girl Statue by Kristen Visbal New York City Wall Street" by Anthony Quintano is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While skeptics remain, there is no doubting the time, effort and creative energy showcased at creativity festival Cannes Lions 2017. A common theme mentioned by many of the speakers and winners at Cannes? The value of social during their campaigns. We learned the importance of social listening and the value that customers offer on social platforms. We learned that a powerful message underlining your brand values is an unstoppable combination. Here are the highlights from some show-stopping campaigns featured at Cannes Lions 2017.

Put the Brand in the Hands of the Consumer

Sunday morning, as the temperature rose, one of the most iconic brands took to the stage as Lego’s Senior Global Director of Social Media & Video, Lars Silberbauer, discussed the Lego Social Media Journey. At 85 years old, LEGO is the brand equivalent of a silver-surfer. While they might be late adopters of social media, they’re now social innovators and a driving force behind demonstrating the power of social and digital success.

Silberbauer is leading this new vision, but their success comes from remaining true to their core vision: the need to play and build together. While franchising and opening up their market has allowed LEGO to diversify its range, the product remains the same. Silberbauer recognises the power of their consumer and their fans in the creative process:

“We always need to be humble to the fact that the creative power of the crowd is just so much bigger than ours.”

“The creative power of the crowd is just so much bigger than ours.” - Lars Silberbauer


Silberbauer’s presentation showcased some incredible examples of the brand’s social marketing. LEGO demonstrates the diversity of today’s digital platforms, and under the guidance of Silberbauer, it will be an interesting story that will continue to build.

Utilize the Power of the Message

Cannes Lions 2017 will be remembered for some inspiring campaigns, that justifiably took home huge accolades and demonstrated the importance of developing a campaign that underlines a bigger brand message—those designed to make a difference.

We were, of course, delighted to see our friend at Channel 4 take home the Grand Prix for Film for their work on the “We’re the Superhumans” campaign. Spredfast showcased this campaign at Smart Social London. It was a powerful message masterfully designed to change the world's perception of disability and encourage more viewers for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

The digital nature of “We’re the Superhumans” campaign aligned itself to social media. Interestingly, another winner at Cannes this year, “Fearless Girl”, took a very alternate approach to traditional advertising and achieved remarkable social media success around an important message.

The iconic Fearless Girl statue in New York City, created from the brains of those at McCann New York, won the Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes Lions. The award is given in recognition to revolutionary work. The statue, erected in Wall Street, stared defiantly at the infamous Charging Bull as a symbol of female leadership in business.

Fearless Girl appeared this year on the eve of International Women’s Day, designed to add pressure to companies to add more women to their boards. However, this statue of a young Latina became a ‘selfie’ sensation, a tourist attraction. Since it's debut on March 7th, Fearless Girl has generated almost a million tweets.

Both “We’re the Superhumans” and “Fearless Girl” are stunning examples of important messages, serious creativity, and the power of social media to drive a story and reach new, and important, audiences.

Break down barriers

But, maybe, “Fearless Girl” also highlights the real winner at Cannes Lions in 2017: The continued rise in conversation on the issue of diversity with the media industry.

Numerous brands, including Unilever and Airbnb, spokespeople like Sheryl Sandberg, and stars like Halle Berry discussed the importance of breaking down barriers of diversity within the industry and the workplace in order to change the world of media.

During Cannes Lions, Unilever unveiled a new Unstereotype Alliance: a global initiative designed to help wipe out stereotypical portrayals of gender in all advertising and brand-led content.

Jonathan Mildenhall, CMO at Airbnb, challenged the Festival itself in his call for diversity and, in turn, used his social profile to create a wider story to help educate on the broader understanding of diversity.

Middenhall said in Campaign Magazine, "I feel this insane responsibility to use my profile to make sure that when I look around, I can see the next generation of CMOs that might look like me. The next generation of CMOs that might identify with my same sexuality. The next generation of female CMOs that might have brown skin."

Winners at Cannes Lions 2017 were not just those who took home a trophy. Cannes, like the industry, needs and will continue to develop—and social is supporting the drive for powerful messages.

Messaging that tells a story and demonstrates brand values will be relevant across digital and social platforms. Putting the customer at the centre of your story, innovate and be creative, and aim to make a difference to the lives of your audience will see all brands will be winners.

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Graham leads Spredfast marketing efforts across EMEA and APAC to help organisations understand how to create social campaigns that resonate, curate relevant social content across every major social network to create incredible social experiences and access real-time insights, and historical data, to plan campaigns and develop content strategies.