It’s been another outstanding day at Cannes Lions as the festival juggernaut rolls on. Seven sets of awards results were revealed, including Australia’s first Grand Prix, while KFC and Colonel Sanders served up some finger-licking good marketing lessons.

Congratulations are in order for Host/Havas Sydney for taking out a Grand Prix, which was awarded in the Direct Lions category for the agency’s work for the western Pacific island country of Palau. That’s in addition to a Silver in the Media Lions and a Gold in the Brand Experience & Activation Lions. 

Its ‘Palau’ campaign was built around the idea of making people conscious of the effect of mass tourism on the country and included a pledge to protect the environment that visitors have to sign within the visa stamp on their passports. 

It was the second big winner to major on the environment after the ‘Trash Isles’ work based on making the Great Pacific garbage patch a country recognised by the UN. Created by campaign group Plastic Oceans, media group LadBible and ad agency AMV BBDO, it won two Grand Prix in the Design Lions and the PR Lions.

Australia came close in the Media Lions, with a Gold for ‘Aussie News Today’ for Tourism Australia by Clemenger BBDO Sydney, but the big prize went to UK supermarket Tesco and its agencies BBH London and MediaCom London. 

‘Tesco’s Food Love Stories’ demonstrated “outstanding storytelling and tradecraft to deliver business transformation, generating £679m in extra revenue in only eight months,” said jury president Tim Castree, global CEO of Wavemaker. 

Across the category, noticeable trends included many entries based on the intersection of media and technology and “the year of the GIF”, added Castree. 

GIFs and the trend for campaigns to feature input from influencers were combined by the winner of the Grand Prix in the Social & Influencer Lions, Nike’s exceptional ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ campaign by Wieden & Kennedy London. 

Nike reached out on social media to ask teens what was worst about living in London and cast several of the respondents, together with grime artist Skepta and football star Harry Kane, in a fast-paced, funny three-minute battle of one-downmanship. 

It was so good that it was shared unprompted by other celebrities, and kids downloaded thousands of GIFs and virtual stickers related to the film. Social & Influencer Lions jury president Mark D’Arcy, the chief creative officer at Facebook, said: “This speaks about the leap our industry has taken. This is how culture gets shaped.”

Tourism Australia’s ‘Dundee’ won a Gold and was highly praised by juror Lennie Stern, head of creative and entertainment strategies at BETC Paris. 

Droga5 New York’s pretence to be relaunching the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ franchise with Chris Hemsworth and other stars “is honestly one of the best big ideas we’ve seen this year” according to Stern.

“It’s not an ad, it’s pure entertainment, made for and with people, and really engages viewers in a strong emotional way. Great social and influencers campaigns don’t just play well on social platforms but have a big impact on pop culture.”

Before we move on to the revival of KFC in the US, a final round of applause to Australia’s creative agencies, which crushed it in the Creative Data Lions and the Media Lions, and to Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Jill Harmon and Nathan Kwok, who won Bronze in the Young Lions Marketing category. 

Direct Grand Prix 

‘Palau Pledge’ for the Palau Legacy Project by Host/Havas Sydney

How did Australia do in the Direct Lions? 

Grand Prix - see above

Silver Lion to ‘Carsales Autoads’ for by CHE Proximity Melbourne

Creative Data Grand Prix

‘JFK Unsilenced’ for The Times by Rothco and Accenture Interactive Dublin

How did Australia do in the Creative Data Lions?

Gold Lion to ‘Project Revoice’ for The ALS Association by BWM Dentsu Sydney

Silver Lion to ‘Making the List’ for Lego Australia by CHE Proximity Melbourne

Silver Lion to ‘Value of Nature’ for The Great Barrier Reef Foundation by Deloitte Australia

Silver Lion to ‘Hearprint’ for Cochlear Hearing Implants by CHE Proximity Melbourne

Silver Lion to ‘ATMs that Listen’ for CBA by Commonwealth Bank Sydney and M&C Saatchi Sydney

Bronze Lion to ‘Project Revoice’ for The ALS Assocation by BWM Dentsu Sydney

Bronze Lion to ‘The R Word’ for Avivo by Marketforce Perth

Bronze Lion to ‘Value of Nature’ for The Great Barrier Reef Foundation by Deloitte Australia

(A campaign can win more than one prize as awards go to individual executions)

PR Grand Prix

‘Trash Isles’ for Plastic Oceans and LadBible by AMV BBDO London

How did Australia do in the PR Lions?

Silver Lion to ‘Hello in Elephant’ for the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust by whiteGREY Sydney

2 Bronze Lions to ‘Project Revoice’ for The ALS Association by BWM Dentsu Sydney

Bronze Lion to ‘Never Before Barbie’ for Barbie by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

(A campaign can win more than one prize as awards go to individual executions)

Media Grand Prix

‘Tesco’s Food Love Stories’ for Tesco by BBH London and MediaCom London

How did Australia do in the Media Lions?

Gold Lion to ‘Aussie News Today’ for Tourism Australia by Clemenger BBDO Sydney

Silver Lion to ‘Palau Pledge’ for the Palau Legacy Project by Host/Havas Sydney

Silver Lion to ‘Sip Safe’ for Monash University by Y&R Melbourne

Silver Lion to ‘Dundee’ for Tourism Australia by UM Sydney and Droga5 Sydney

Bronze Lion to ‘Carsales Autoads’ for by CHE Proximity Melbourne

Bronze Lion to ‘Disappearing Person Alerts’ for Queensland Police by BWM Dentsu Melbourne

Bronze Lion to ‘The Billion Point Giveaway’ for Velocity Frequent Flyer by CHE Proximity Melbourne

Social & Influencer Grand Prix

‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ for Nike by Wieden & Kennedy London

How did Australia do in the Social & influencer Lions? 

Gold Lion to ‘Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home’ for Tourism Australia by Droga5 New York

Bronze Lion to ‘The Wentworth Rat’ for Foxtel’s Wentworth series by Mindshare Sydney

Bronze Lion to ‘Loser’s Paradise’ for Air New Zealand by Host/Havas Sydney

Innovation Grand Prix

‘My Line’ for Columbia’s Ministry of Communications and Technology by MullenLowe SSP3 Bogotà

How did Australia do in the Innovation Lions? 

No prizes.

Product Design Grand Prix

‘Kingo’ for Kingo Energy by Ogilvy Columbia Bogotà, Kingo Energy Guatemala City and Ogilvy Guatemala

How did Australia do in the Product Design Lions?

‘Sip Safe’ for Monash University by Y&R Melbourne

It’s always fun to hear a marketing director tell a turnaround story and slate his predecessors’ stewardship of the brand a bit. Combine KFC’s George Felix doing that with him having a live conversation with Colonel Sanders and you’ve got gold.

“The road to mediocrity is paved with in-house creative,” Felix said of the state of KFC’s US brand before he took over and appointed Wieden & Kennedy specifically because of their outsider’s perspective. 

W&K’s executive creative director Jason Bagley stopped the brand doing what he called “mirror marketing”, driven by the belief that to appeal to your target audience you have to show that audience in your ads.

The agency delved through the archive and brought back distinctive brand assets that had been designed out of existence over time. Not least Colonel Sanders, who has since been played by comedians, actors and even female country music stars. 

The Colonel told the audience: “After building a global fried chicken empire, I faced very significant personal challenge. I died. Nothing sends fried chicken sales into the crapper faster than dying.”

“[George and Jason and the team] exhumed my body, reanimated me and put me back to revive my beloved brand, and boy, have I been busier than a one-legged buttkicker!”

Examples of KFC’s riotous marketing include asking to be first brand to get into the WWE wrestling ring. In one ad the Colonel, played by wrestler Dolph Ziggler, smacks down a competitor salesman dressed in a chicken suit in front of a live WWE audience, who chanted the Colonel’s name unprompted. 

“When content is authentic to the medium you’re in, people don’t mind that it’s coming from a brand. They like that the brand gets them,” observed Bagley. 

What’s unusual for a brand as big as KFC is that it has just one agency working for it, but this is a very deliberate preference for Felix. 

“We’ve gone the opposite way to the multiple-agency trend. I find managing multiple agencies exhausting. Whereas I can make one phone call and know the whole breadth of our agency is working on KFC.” 

Bagley added another drawback, that handling only one part of a client’s business limits thinking at an agency.

“Better thinking happens when you have a blank canvas and all of the agency able to contribute,” Bagley said, adding that W&K has gone even further by inviting its other offices to submit ideas. (This was pioneered by media agency PHD among others and was recently taken up by Publicis Groupe with its new Marcel software platform.)

This has allowed KFC to become a content machine that released 1,850 pieces of work last year. Felix said he was proud of this and he disagreed with the idea that brands should be doing less content. 

“Fewer ads put you under too much pressure to have a hit,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of misses but we’ve had a lot of home runs because we took so many swings.” 

Among those home runs was a free download of a romantic novel, Wings of Desire, released on Mother’s Day with a cheesy cover featuring the Colonel carrying a woman up a hill. 

“There is literally no part of culture that is off limits for the Colonel,” said Felix. 

And that’s a wrap for Day Four – we’re off to watch the Colonel wrestle a pretty convincing Mrs Doubtfire impersonator who’s been roaming the streets of Cannes.