The Best Social Media Campaigns From The Cannes Lions 2016

In the past week, ad agency Twitter has obsessively tweeted from the Cannes Lions. The annual festival of advertising (they say creativity these days) is an opportunity to network and listen to industry experts. Best of all, it’s an opportunity to win stuff.

Advertising agencies can enter their work (for a fee) in a variety of different categories, including PR, mobile and product design. Whether you’re a top agency, a startup or just a regular joe, the Cannes Lions are a great opportunity to take a look at the most imaginative marketing campaigns of the past year. We’re a digital agency, so we’re going to focus on the best uses of social media from this year’s crop.

  1. Straight Outta… – Beats by Dre – R/GA Hustle

Before the release of the Straight Outta Compton film, these pictures were everywhere.


My Facebook feed was full of overnight NWA fans. #StraightOutta was the number one worldwide trend on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The website allowed social media users to create their own images and share them online. It was simple and versatile enough to cover a range of posts; there were tonnes of jokey posts, charities used the meme to raise awareness of refugee camps, even the White House joined in with an Iran related post.

refugee beats

The stylised black and white shot behind a Straight Outta Somewhere logo always looks iconic, so pretty much every user was happy with the finished image. Plus, creating your own Straight Outta Somewhere was really easy, making it easy for millions to appear online within 24 hours.

Encouraging user generated content works when all of your target audience can get involved. Their audience didn’t need Photoshop experience, all they needed was a picture and a city. If you’re after audience created content, make it easy for them, as simple as a Dre beat. Is that a diss? I think that’s a diss.

  1. Hashtags 4 Life – Red Cross – McCann Lima

I know a lot of us aren’t too keen on how hashtags are everywhere. Teenagers can’t talking without #hashtagging #each #word and every movie poster has a hashtag attached to it somewhere.

Red Cross Peru took a different approach. Faced with low numbers of blood donors (1,250 out of Peru’s 30 million citizens) the Red Cross decided to simplify the donation process.

hashtags for life social media

The campaign is still running and Red Cross are expanding it to other South American countries

Instead of completing a series of sign-up forms, all Peruvians needed to do was tweet their blood type as a hashtag, example:#ONegativoPerú. The Red Cross catalogued each tweet, boosting the number of blood donors by 22,983. Whenever an emergency donation was needed, the Red Cross could contact the relevant Twitter user.

I love this for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, this campaign has saved people’s lives. Second, the hashtag system made it easy to get involved. All people needed to do was tweet their blood type. One tweet, that’s it.

Simplifying your sign up or purchasing process is always a sure-fire method to increase conversions. The quicker the process, the less time a user has to look elsewhere. Use social media to shorten your sign up procedure, but extend this rule to your website, to every arm of your digital marketing division.

  1. Come On In – Sydney Opera House – DDB

This campaign is a masterclass in social listening. Just in case you’re not down with the latest digital lingo, social listening is when a company takes to a social network and reaches out to potential customers.

sydney opera house instagram

Small sample of the thousands of Instagram shots of Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is the most Instagrammed image in Australia. But it’s always pictures from the outside. They were getting great coverage on social media, but weren’t making any money from it. They needed people to come inside.

When Instagram users posted shots of the Opera House, the staff would create a customised video showing the great time they could have inside. Posted to the Sydney Opera House Instagram feed, they’d tag the user, offering a special free event, tickets to a sound check, backstage tours of their sets.

Photos of #ComeOnIn days spread across Instagram, showing a new (money-making) side of the Opera House.

It’s a testament to the strength of social listening. Brands that reply to potential customers with personalised messages leave a lasting impression. They’re more likely to buy from you later down the line, and much more likely to recommend your business to their friends.

  1. Race Your Heart Out – Acura – Razorfish

Acura brought nostalgia to Periscope, setting up a stream of Scalextric cars whizzing round the race track. Live announcers provided commentary of the event and a multi-camera set up offered high production values to the simple stream.

Okay, so this is pretty cool, but what sets it apart?

Razorfish added a twist. Each car had its own stream, with the two cars powered by how many likes the stream received.

Acura – Race your heart out from Daniel Bonner on Vimeo

This is the key to live-streaming. Involve your audience. Sites like Twitch have led the way, showing how an engaged set of users are willing to support streamers. From a pure engagement point-of-view, their high point was Twitch Plays Pokemon, a non-stop 384-hour stream of users entering commands to complete the first Pokemon game.

digital online interaction

This is Twitch Plays Pokemon. Notice the speed and number of users

Race Your Heart Out riffed off a similar system. Involved followers are far more committed, particularly when they can see an immediate effect. If you’re looking to test the waters with live-streaming, consider how you can involve your viewers in the action.

  1. First Ever Pinterest Yard Sale – Krylon – Deutsch

This is mainly here for the novelty of including Pinterest. The often overlooked social site is a great place for product focused campaigns. The spray paint manufacturer Krylon played on Pinterest’s love of refurbed furniture to power their latest campaign.

Krylon visited yard sales across the USA, buying dressers, buckets, benches, anything that needed a little love. They spray painted the old items and, using the newly released buyable pins, sold the pieces through Pinterest (all the profits went to charity).

Through Twitter, Krylon promoted their products and offered a series of how-to videos, helping customers get in on the DIY refurb trend. Obviously, to get involved, you needed to buy loads of spray paint cans.

Krylon managed to take a slightly dated product, and adapt its use to the latest trend on social media. Not only that, they used multiple social media platforms, each to serve a different purpose.

Don’t pretend that each social network is the same. Some stuff works on Facebook but not on Twitter. Snapchat’s better for immediate, fun content, but it’s not so good for selling a service. Coordinate your social accounts, but play to their respective strengths.

  1. Manboobs – MACMA – David

How do you teach people how to check for breast cancer lumps? MACMA, an Argentine Cancer charity, found through market research that 67% of women don’t check for lumps. They also found that their target audience check their phones 110 times per day.

Using that information, MACMA took to Facebook and Instagram to teach people how to check. Slight problem. The two social networks remove any image or video with exposed female nipples.

The work around is great.

Yep, Facebook and Instagram are fine with manboobs.

The eye-catching video received a tonne of shares on Facebook and Instagram, from people promoting the healthcare aspect and from users that take issue with Facebook’s censorship policies.

Just to be clear, we’re not saying your next marketing campaign should be centred on manboobs. The important lesson is to get on the social networks that your customer uses. MACMA figured out where their audience spends time online. Think of your target market, find out about their social preferences and advertise there.

You can stay up to date with the latest digital and social media strategy by liking Digital Media Team on Facebook or following @digitalmediatm on Twitter. We also offer a range of social media and PPC advertising options to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Yeah, this last paragraph is a sales pitch, but hey, we’re a business too.

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