Top Cannes Promo & Activation contenders

Strategy is counting down the campaigns most likely to win big at the Palais at this year's festival.

As we count down the days to the Cannes Lions submission deadline (March 28)strategy is rounding out the most likely contenders for each category, tapping the top folks in the industry to help us narrow down the list. This week, we’re taking a gander in the Promo & Activation category. Check back each Friday until the deadline to see which campaigns have the best shot in Cannes.

Promo & Activation 

Campaign: No child for sale
Brand: World Vision
Agency: KBS+

Chosen by: Monica Ruffo, president, Lowe Roche

The problem of child labour is one everyone is aware of and yet, we have collectively failed to eradicate it to date, partly because it is so easy to look the other way… after all, it is not in our backyard. By making the problem “real” and relating it to something from our own culture, World Vision brought the problem close to home in a tangible way demonstrating clearly how appalling the problem is with a clear call to action.

Campaign: Christmas Miracle
Brand: WestJet
Agency: Studio M

Chosen by: Simon Creet, VP/CCO, The Hive

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a meteoric rise in the number of Cannes Lions going to brands that lead with actions rather than words. Perhaps the best example of this, and a serious contender in Cannes this summer, is WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle.” In this five-minute video, the airline surprises holiday travellers with a virtual Santa who makes Christmas wishes come true in the time it takes to fly from Toronto to Calgary.

Ever since the early 1700s when the world first read of Aladdin and his magical lamp, we have developed a universal love for stories built around the granting of wishes. This is particularly true when the recipients are especially worthy. And who is more worthy than weary parents travelling with their kids over the holidays?  The vid was an instant hit, racking up over 35 million hits and making it to news desks and websites around the world. As long as the Promo & Activation jury can put their Scrooge-like cynicism aside, this June WestJet should receive a special present of its own.

Campaign: Skittles Millionaire
Brand: Skittles (Wrigley)
Agency: BBDO

Chosen by: Brian Sheppard ECD, Saatchi & Saatchi

skittles richI keep wondering “what will Skittles do next?” This past December, we got the answer. And that answer was the “Get Skittles Rich” promotion.

The prize? A cool one million Skittles (or, 5,500 bags worth), and the right to call oneself the Skittles Millionaire.

Like to so many great promo and activation pieces, the best part of this one was its simplicity. A fictional spokesperson (the perfectly named Danny Falcon) simply invited people to share his video, using his “proven, multi-level marketing techniques” in order to maximize shares. People signed into the microsite, and then earned four virtual Skittles candies for every share they could muster. Whoever got the most shares of the video (and virtual Skittles) won the bounty and became the Skittles Millionaire.

The campaign ran for six weeks and generated a ton of interest and activity before the Skittles Millionaire was crowned, no doubt with much Skittles fanfare. Getting big engagement on any kind of promotion is tough, but doing that while staying so perfectly in the pocket of the brand (in this case, the weirdness of all things Skittles) is truly a feat. This promo got it all right, and should do well with the judges this year.

Check out the contenders in the PR, Mobile and Film categories.