Cannes Lions Outdoor 2022: Highlights

The Festival has begun, and the first winners have been awarded in the Cannes Lions Outdoor category. 

There is some excellent thinking, and while I might disagree with the Grand Prix (which probably should have got a gold lion anyway), for the most part I think the judges got it right.

The exception of course, are the ‘scammy’ campaigns which always appear at Cannes moreso than any other creative advertising Award show. These are ads that are clearly made only because somebody thought it might be an award-winning idea. Unfortunately, the judges keep encouraging this behaviour by awarding some of the ideas. And this year was no exception.

Great advertising is only great if it solves a real problem

That’s why this article excludes those Cannes lions outdoor that only exist because the agency wanted a shiny award. And not because it tackled a difficult business or social problem (that they were asked to solve by a real, paying client).

Looking at the Cannes lions outdoor winners here, it’s clear that real advertising for real clients can be creative, inspiring and teach us valuable lessons about our craft as creative people.

Table of Contents

Cannes Lions Outdoor 2022 Grand Prix

This outdoor idea for Adidas isn’t entirely new. ‘Living’ billboard installations have been a regular feature of ad award shows for decades. But what sets it apart is the story inside the case study shown below.

It was a daring installation for the middle eastern region, encouraging women to exercise even though there are clothing restrictions. I do feel that this was a little scammy – there was only one poster, and there was an enormous amount of effort put into the case study film.

Honestly, the case study film might have cost more to make than the outdoor installation itself. I’m not kidding.

Personally I wouldn’t have given this the grand prix. Gold or silver, for sure. But a jury of judges more credentialed than I thought it was a worthy winner. Decide for yourself below.

adidas liquid billboard cannes 2002
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Cannes Lions Outdoor Gold (But my pick for the Grand Prix)

This is a wickedly clever idea that was amplified brilliantly through social media. It didn’t have the same social ‘story’ as the adidas installation, which may have helped the Adidas work be elevated to the heights it was.

A modest budget to promote a TV series on Netflix was absolutely maximised. The chutzpah of the creative team to replace the most famous painting in Poland with a fake is admirable. The agency team that pulled this off deserve all the plaudits they receive.

Anyway, Cannes being Cannes, it’s likely this campaign was entered in other categories such as direct, integrated or activation. So it might do better with other juries. See what you think about it below.

netflix lupin advertising the art of stealing cannes 2022
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The to-be-expected Coronavirus campaign

But done exceptionally brilliantly. This is another favourite of mine from the Cannes Outdoor category. Again, it’s another campaign that maximised the ad spend to generate an outsized amount of attention for their client.

A moving billboard and a simple website was all it took. It brought joy to people who watched it drive by, and it pulled the rug from the feet of the audience in an incredibly effective way.

It’s the product of a small North Carolina agency called BooneOakley. I hope their phones are ringing off the hook with dozens of clients who want to work with them.

wilmore funeral home booneoakley cannes 2022
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Burger King Mexico

The great thing about this campaign is that it breaks free from category norms. You’ve never seen posters like these for the fast food industry.

Showing average people eating your product isn’t new, but the tone of voice in these posters is so honest and warm that I do believe it deserved it’s gold lion.

The case-study film is a bit overdone though. It is heavily produced and makes the idea seem much bigger than it really is. (There was no need for the exhibition of the campaign. It doesn’t make the idea actually bigger, but it the case study film makes it feel like the campaign was more extensive than it really was).

I shouldn’t complain too much though. We are in advertising after all. Exaggeration is what we do.

burger king mexico non artificial cannes 2022
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Damn good advertising deserving Outdoor Gold

This is such a great outdoor idea that seamlessly uses technology to charm and delight the audience. It would have been a cost-effective campaign too.

There’s nothing fancy or ground-breaking about this outdoor campaign. It’s just a damn good idea made exceptionally well.

ultima never ending chase cannes outdoor lion 2022
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A traditional billboard with a twist

Juries are funny. In a different year it might not have even made the shortlist. But here it is awarded with a Cannes Lions Outdoor gold.

It’s good though. It’s a really well thought out campaign that solved a business problem in a clean, simple way. In many ways it feels like an outdoor poster from the 1990’s. A really, really good poster from the 1990’s.

And that’s great. Not everything has to be groundbreaking. This campaign proves you don’t have to complicate matters to do something that makes a difference, as well as look great as part of your portfolio.

Play Video about kfc mallorca ikea posters cannes 2022

An old idea done better than ever before

I remember hearing David Droga say that he doesn’t care if an idea has been done before. If it is right for the client, it’s up to the creatives to find a way to execute it better.

This is a great example. I’ve seen these Rubens paintings showing advanced breast cancer used in ad campaigns several times over the decades. The idea itself has been awarded at Cannes already more than once.

But this is the best execution of the idea I’ve ever seen. It was awarded cannes outdoor gold and it deserves it.

macma breast cancer self examination cannes 2022
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You'll see this one in many categories at Cannes

There are so many categories at Cannes that it gives large agencies the opportunity to enter their campaigns in more than one.

Winning four lions sounds better than winning one. Doesn’t matter if it’s for the same thing. (Apparently).

It’s a symbiotic relationship between the organisers of the Cannes Advertising festival and the agencies. The festival gets more money for entry fees (they are a profit-generating business, after all), and the agencies get to puff their chests a little wider.

This is a great idea, true to the brand identity of Corona and with a social impact message that award juries swoon over. We’ll see this again before the week is out.

Play Video about corona plastic fishing tournament cannes 2022

This might have been a Grand Prix contender too.

Here is another coronavirus idea. But it really isn’t. It’s a poverty idea.

Brands attaching themselves to social causes can backfire spectacularly. It can come across as exploitative, or hypocritical. It is an incredibly fine line to tread.

This is a brilliant idea that was perfect for the moment that was given to it. Cadbury balanced branding and social impact perfectly. A great case study.

Play Video about cadbury flags of generosity cannes 2022

Chicago Film Festival. Deserved better than bronze.

This is the only Bronze lion we are profiling here. And that’s because it deserved better.

It’s beautifully written, has some novel attributes, and worked brilliantly. Perhaps the judges thought it was more of a stunt than an outdoor campaign. But the same could be said for the Adidas Grand Prix Winning Outdoor campaign.

This campaign is fun and whimsical. Not impactful and challenging like the majority of the other campaigns that get awarded.

I like it. And dammit, I’m going to include it with the other highlights in this article.

chicago film festival life scripted cannes 2022
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Stretching the bounds of what 'outdoor' is

I really like this work. But entering it in the Cannes Outdoor Lions category is a bit of a stretch.

Basically they created some bespoke skateboards with a special promotional feature. It’s super cool. It’s perfect for the market they’re talking to. But outdoor? Well….

Take a look though. It’s a well made idea. Just better suited to another category.

activision tony hawk pro skater cannes 2022
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Budweiser and basketball?

This is a campaign that makes zero sense without the case study. And even then you have to watch it a couple of times to really get what it’s all about.

It’s a strange thing for Budweiser to attach themselves to. The rationale of the work and the many tentacles of the execution is convoluted. But, all the money they spent on the incredibly well produced case study film paid off, because they won a cannes outdoor gold lion for it.

Make your own mind up. I would have loved to have seen the client presentation for this campaign. It would have been a very difficult sell. But kudos to them. They pulled it off.

budweiser unbreakable courts cannes 2002
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Those are the best of this year's Outdoor show, imho.

Were there any other campaigns in the Cannes Lions outdoor category you think belong with these? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s battle.

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