Cannes Lions 2016: The Power of Creativity

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity took place this week. The 8 day programme of creative inspiration, education and networking attracted over 15,000 delegates from over 100 countries to share their experience and insight in the world of creativity and business.

The most coveted creative awards, the Lions, are judged and presented at the festival with over 40,000 submissions from 23 categories including entertainment, innovation, pharma and digital craft.

The official hashtag #CannesLions is used worldwide throughout social media channels by key business leaders and creatives. The hashtag reached a high Adorescore of 59 which contained high levels of trust, amazement and passion.

The mission of The Cannes Lions Festival is to highlight the power of creativity and its important function as a driving force for business.

We analyzed three of the winners from this year’s festival to fully understand the emotional impact of these winning campaigns.


Burger King may not have won over McDonald’s with their McWhopper proposal but they certainly won over the judges at Cannes Lions by picking up the Grand Prix in Print and Publishing.

In August, Burger King published a full-page proposal to McDonald’s in both the New York Times and The Chicago Tribune. Burger King invited McDonald’s to end their so-called “Burger Wars” by joining forces to make the “McWhopper”, a combination of the Big Mac and the Whopper. Burger King proposed that for one day only to open a pop up restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, the designated halfway point between the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago and the Burger King headquarters in Miami.

The aim of the collaboration was to raise awareness of Peace Day (September 21) and raise money for the non-profit organisation Peace One Day.

Whilst McDonald’s displayed no interest in the collaboration, the campaign gathered around 100,000 mentions online in the week following the proposal and 7.6 billion impressions with a highly positive Adorescore of 64. The campaign engaged a high level of positive high activation emotions, including admiration, amazement and ecstasy, which are most likely to elicit action from the public. This means it was not only a successful campaign but also a motivated one.

The level of reaction to this campaign would predict that if McDonald’s had accepted Burger King’s proposal to #SettleTheBeef the impact could have been incredible.

The Swedish Number

Swedish tourism groups are quickly becoming known for their bold advertising moves. In 2012 VisitSweden launched their ‘Curators of Sweden’ campaign, which gives one ordinary Swede free reign over the official Swedish Twitter handle, @sweden, for one week. The most recent representative is Tokyo-born Natsuko, who moved to Sweden in 2011. This innovative program continues to this day, and it earned the agency Volontaire the 2012 Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes.

This year saw the birth of a new campaign by Ingo Stockholm for the Swedish Tourist Association, which has led to Sweden becoming the first country with its own phone number. ‘The Swedish Number’ was launched on 6th April 2016, and it connects the caller with a random Swedish ‘Telephone Ambassador’ who has signed up to the service online. The campaign, which coincides with the 250th anniversary of the abolition of censorship in Sweden, seeks to provide the world with greater insight into everyday life in Sweden and it invites callers to talk about anything. Suggested topics in the ad range from meatballs and fashion, to gay rights and suicide rates. The campaign was awarded Direct Grand Prix at Cannes this week.

Mentions of this pioneering campaign were overwhelmingly positive, with a high Adorescore of 58 and high levels of passion being expressed. A large percentage of high activation emotions which were conveyed toward The Swedish Number were largely positive, including admiration, amazement and vigilance.  


Outdoor store REI went against the crowd and decided to close their 143 stores on America’s biggest shopping day of the year – Black Friday. They launched the #OptOutside campaign encouraging people to spend the day outside rather than shopping.  

The campaign caught people’s attention with over 1.4 million hits on social media and over 175 organisations following suit.

Rob Reilly, Cannes Jury President and global creative chairman of McCann Worldgroup called the campaign the “bravest idea of the decade” and argued that REI “places more value in its customers than short term profit”. The campaign not only increased brand awareness, but web sales increased by 26% during the Black Friday weekend.

The #OptOutside campaign has racked up many awards since, including the Promo and Activation Grand Prix and a Gold Lion at the Cannes Lions this year.

The hashtag translated to a high Adorescore of 51 with the main high activation emotions trust, admiration and ecstasy being conveyed toward the brand and campaign.

With all three winners producing a high Adorescore and an overall positive emotional response the importance of taking risks with creativity in business is highlighted, which is the main mission of the Cannes Lions Festival. All three campaigns took risks and and stepped outside of the box to create innovative and overall successful campaigns.

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