The Lions from Down Under – a roaring saga of success

Storytelling and the use of humour have always been the hallmark of advertising on both sides of the Tasman. But at the Cannes Lions this year, we saw a new avatar of ‘brand heroism’ aimed at the greater good of people. The big theme for me is ‘Creativity for Change’ with brands stepping in to be change agents by creating awareness, triggering behavioural change among consumers or inspiring a better world order. Trans-Tasman creativity showcased this spirit, but as always, with a twist. So, what did they do (with the addition of a couple of global creatives that would be remiss of me to not share with you here) that made them stand out on the world stage of creativity?

Effectiveness is authenticity augmented

Brands creating awareness and announcing their presence in a meaningful and different way can be enthralling. The Artois Probability (Grand Prix – Creative Data) is a clever example from Gut Argentina of authentically owning a brand narrative by breaking category tropes and thereby driving difference. A brilliantly told story using Artois and Art.

Samsung Flipvertising (Grand Prix – Social and Influencer) from Australia does a great job in leveraging influencers and social to create awareness by flipping the traditional use of targeted advertising. Clever and innovative work in partnership with Google paid off for the entry. MacPac’s Weather Anything (Bronze – Film) is a simple, clear and ownable cliff hanger, literally and figuratively. It talks about the product in a precariously edgy setting and yet manages to capture attention and hearts.

The Last Performance from New Zealand by Partners Life is an authentic creative and media innovation using the popular, ‘The Brokenwood Mysteries’ show to create awareness around life insurance. The insight? Hindsight is useless when you’re dead. It’s aimed at consumer behaviour change with regard to buying life insurance in New Zealand. And it worked with strong uplift in brand awareness, consideration for Partners Life and attitude to life insurance.

Phone it in from Skinny won multiple awards for its ingenuity through open-sourced radio scripts via out-of-home placements so people could record them on their mobile phones, for free. It is clever, original and effectively created awareness and interest for the telco. And finally, in this category, an Aussie submission (Gold, Silver and Bronze – Outdoor, Silver – Creative Commerce, Silver – Media), FitChix, tracking the chooks and making Henrietta the fit chick. That truly is authentic and sustainable.

Making the unheard, heard – the emergence of the ‘brand welfare state’

The welfare state system undertakes to protect citizen health and wellbeing, especially those in financial or social need, thus the emergence of the ‘brand welfare state’ is underpinned by Kantar’s LINK database, which clearly shows that brands with purpose that fits its values tends to have stronger brand power or equity (79 per cent demand power contribution compared to 27 per cent with a weak fit). And at Cannes, we celebrated brands creating impact in a manner that is scalable and transformative. For example, the Titanium winner from MasterCard Poland, ‘Where to Settle’ is a classic example of a brand acting upon its promise of ‘economic inclusion’ and extending its resources for the greater good of refugees and in doing so, re-positioning them as assets rather than socio-economic liabilities.

The refugee issue; however, is not limited in its relevance to Poland. Maurice Blackburn Social Justice’s Exhibit A-1 (Silver – Sustainable Development Goals, Bronze – Direct and Print and Publishing) uses technology to tell the poignant and disturbing saga of refugee detention camps in Australia. It was not just a story to create awareness but furthermore was used as a tool in policy-change conversations with members of Australian Parliament. But Maurice Blackburn was not a solitary voice talking about the plight of refugees. The Reluctant Shanty from Australia for UNHCR (Bronze – Film Craft for Original Music, Silver – Social and Influencer) is a revival of sea shanties written based on interviews with multiple refugees. The song is authentic to those performing it and leans into a political, hot button issue, boat refugees.

But it is not just refugees who have been given a voice. The Titanium Grand Prix winning ‘First Digital Nation from the Government of Tuvalu (Silver – Sustainable Goals, Bronze – Film) is a deeply moving story of a nation close to obliteration in the real world told through Minister Kofe’s COP27 speech to world leaders.  Tuvalu plans to use a digital recreation of its islands, migrate its government services, culture and history to the cloud and has officially become the first Digital Nation. If this is not a wake-up call for sustainability and ecological preservation, what more will it take?

Walk along, not just ‘walk the talk’ – marketers creating cultural change

Correcting wrongs is not just about our planet. It extends beyond, and Correct the Internet from Team Heroine, a women’s sports marketing agency, is trying to rectify the biases we have taught the internet and make the achievements of sportswomen visible. It brings the inclusion and diversity conversation into a key cultural asset across both sides of the Tasman – sports.

However, Team Heroine is not alone in this endeavour. A Silver in Brand Experience and Activation and a Bronze in the Direct category was bestowed on Aussie icon Bundaberg with the Bundy Mixer. The initiative was based on the insight that that the vast majority of NRL fans had little respect for the female NRLW players even though their stats proved they are just as good as the men. It was targeted at male NRL fans with traditional views on gender roles using stats because ‘you can’t argue with stats and stats have no gender’. The impact was a sharp rise in the NRLW viewership – so, mission accomplished!

It is not just in the real world, but also in the virtual world that women face discrimination. Maybelline’s ‘Through their eyes’ (Silver – Social and Influencer) aims to create awareness and democratise gaming. The brand campaign brought the issue to life and delivered a dramatic gender shift in campaign engagement bringing more men into the movement. But it was not just good for gamers, it also brought business success to Maybelline in Australia.

Trans-Tasman advertising is truly ‘all heart’

The Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards 2023 ANZ showcased that advertising down under truly has heart – it is heartfelt, keeps the brand at its heart and builds relevance in an engaging and meaningful manner. Cannes further validated this at scale with creatives demonstrating strong human values of empathy, courage and care.

Empathy is at the heart of building meaningful connections and brands are now realising the importance of stepping into the centre of the consumer universe.  “I’m Neale Daniher” (Silver – Social and Influencer) from FightMND, R Plates (Bronze – Brand Experience and Activation) from MyCar Tyre & Auto, and Waka Kotahi’s Through my Eyes are all authentic, real life stories showcasing people, their pain and letting them know that they are seen, heard and cared for regardless of the situation or circumstances.

Focus is still creativity and effectiveness, but data, AI and technology is widely prevalent
But these tools translate into impact only when used meaningfully, rooted in a strong core idea and backed by sound brand strategy. Once again proving that year on year, the Cannes Lions truly is a celebration of creativity at its best globally, I can’t wait for 2024 and the next round of winning ideas, life enhancing and successful strategies.

While we celebrate these wins, we are acutely aware that identifying a creative strong idea is not an easy feat. Talk to us to learn about the power of a creative idea and how to nurture it through your creative development process using LINK+ on Kantar Marketplace.


Irene Joshy
Head of Creative,
Kantar Australia