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Last week saw the French Riviera once again play host to advertising’s equivalent of the oscars; Cannes Lions. 

Now that the sun has set on the festival for another year, we’ve been taking a look at all the winners and discussing our views on who we think should and shouldn’t have taken home the coveted gold lion trophies.

Here’s a selection of campaigns we thought were most Remarkable from the Direct category:



Lion: Gold Direct: Co-creation & user generated content
Agency: McCann, London



Back in 2016, Xbox launched Design Lab, an online store for customising controllers. However, in 2017, they had a problem: Design Lab’s customisable controllers are relatively expensive, retailing at 50% more than standard controllers, which was proving to be a barrier to purchase for the target audience. With concerns amongst these gamers around the high cost of gaming, how could Xbox take cost out of the equation, in order to increase sales of Design Lab controllers?

Why we think it’s Remarkable:

The campaign tapped into the nature of gamers by giving them the chance to create and claim their own unique design first. It then gave them the opportunity to challenge themselves to see who could raise the most amount of cash.

This gamification alongside the growing desire for personalisation was a winning formula.


March for our lives

Lion: Gold Direct: Single country campaign
Agency: McCann, New York



The USA gun lobby, The National Rifle Association (NRA), gives millions of dollars to politicians so they don’t pass meaningful gun control legislation.
Gun violence continues to be a major issue and after every mass shooting, the USA engages in the same debate over our gun laws. And even though the majority of Americans support gun control, these NRA backed politicians continue to do nothing.
But after the latest mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the survivors spoke up to demand change. They organised the March For Our Lives rally which attracted millions and started a movement. Building off the success of the march they created the March For Our Lives (MFOL) organisation and action fund to continue to push politicians to pass gun control. They needed a symbol for the movement.

Why we think it’s Remarkable:

The brutal simplicity of the message and execution allowed the powerful insight to take centre stage. There was no hiding from the stark realities of the wrongs the moment is trying to highlight and eradicate.



Lion: Gold Direct: Use of broadcast
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, New York


The challenge was to become “the most loved brand of the Super Bowl” and surpass the highly-successful “Bradshaw Stain” from last year. Knowing they had to go big to earn the love of the over 103 million watching the game, Tide decided to take over the Super Bowl and turn every ad into a Tide ad. How? Get people talking about detergent and laughing by getting them to rethink the other 53 ads, and hopefully every other ad to come.

Why we think it’s Remarkable:

The Super Bowl is the arguably the best platform for an advertiser yet given it’s profile, in many ways the hardest area to stand out. Tide have cleverly hacked the entire event to make the conversation around Super Bowl ads all about them and their product.


Burger King

Lion: Gold Direct: Acquisition & retention
Agency: Lola Mullenlowe, Madrid



Burger King knows creating buzz is key to staying top of mind in a crowded market. Halloween has previously proved to be one of the best opportunities for Burger King to stand out and make some noise, especially on social media and press. (Black Whopper (in 2015) and McDonalds’ ghost (2016))
In 2017 They aimed to come up with an epic idea which engaged people and made them visit a Burger King across the globe.
Coinciding with the release of ‘IT’ & Pennywise the clown (one of the scariest characters in film), Burger King found they had the perfect opportunity to troll the McDonald’s mascot Ronald.

Why we think it’s Remarkable:

A simple promotion mechanic, brilliantly timed (for Halloween) and pitched perfectly for an internet generation (Troll McDonalds) lead to some impressive and most importantly, measurable, business results.


Palau Legacy Project

Lion: Grand Prix Direct: Travel
Agency: Host/Havas, Sydney



Palau, a Pacific island-nation, has seen a massive growth in tourist numbers in the past three years yet this tourism is having a negative impact on the environment and without action, it would be too late to protect some of the most unique parts of the country.
The challenge was to find a balance between encouraging tourism without compromising the environment. The objective: partner with government, the Palau population and the tourist industry to model and promote sustainable attitudes and behaviour among tourists and locals.

Why we think it’s Remarkable:

This campaign works well on many levels, and in our opinion is deserving of its Grand Prix, thanks to the innovative and unique use of channel (passport), the behavioural economics of a public pledge and its beautifully simple execution.


5 things we can learn from the winners


  1. Simplicity is key
    At the heart of each of these campaigns is a simple idea and a single minded message


  1. You don’t always have to do good. Just be good.
    Unlike previous years, there’s a healthy balance of social good and product-led campaigns


  1. Direct is not just emails
    These campaigns show there is a wide range of channels at our disposal to engage customers and inspire action


  1. Start a conversation
    The majority of these campaigns had talk-ability. This cultural reaction perpetuated the campaign and ultimately contributed to its success


  1. Context, context, context
    Few of these campaigns existed in a vacuum. For many of these, their campaign narrative was directly linked to or in response to a cultural event.


-Adam Reader, Senior Planner & Kieran Child, Associate Creative Director