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Chipotle ad

Cannes 2012: Cannes' Moral Compass

BY Matt Williams

While the majority of French attention on Saturday night was directed towards a certain football match going on in Ukraine, all eyes in Cannes were firmly fixed towards the stage at the Grand Auditorium in the Palais des Festivals. 

For it was here that the Cannes International Festival of Creativity 2012 was coming to a climax, with the announcement of the Film Lion awards. 

Unlike in the last few years, when Old Spice and Nike ‘Write the Future’ were all but be guaranteed victory well before the announcements were even made, the field battling for the Film Grand Prix this year was far more open. 

DirecTV – revealed earlier this week as Bill Clinton’s favourite ad campaign – was amongst the front runners. As was Canal+, which had already taken one Grand Prix in the Film Craft category. The UK was even making a strong case, thanks to Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s ‘Three Little Pigs’ spot for The Guardian. 

But in the end it was this brilliant spot for the Mexican Grill brand Chipotle that took home the ultimate prize: 

A very worth winner, no doubt you’ll agree. The ad proved what can be done if you mix that potent combination of raw emotion, painstaking craft and a very brave client (indeed, this 2 minute 20 second spot was Chipotle’s first ever national advertising campaign). 

It also showed just how powerful a great soundtrack can be – Wille Nelson’s rendition of ‘The Scientist’, originally by Coldplay, has since been downloaded countless times, with all proceeds going to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. It comes as no surprise that this factor helped Chipotle take home the Cannes Lions Brand Content Grand Prix too.

The desire for brands to ‘be good’ is a trend that has been impossible to escape from at Cannes this week.

Perhaps it’s because a consumer’s moral compass becomes more evident during difficult economic times, but whatever the reason, brands who show a conscience are reaping the rewards.

Even if historically you’re seen as a ‘big evil corporation’, brands that are investing in (creative) CSR initiatives are resonating with the public. Take the Google ‘Project Rebrief’ campaign – it’s reinvention of Coca-Cola’s classic ‘Hilltop’ advert, which allowed mobile users to literally by the world a Coke, scooped the Cannes Lions Mobile Grand Prix. 

Meanwhile American Express showed their thoughtfulness by trying to lend a hand to small businesses, designating these retailers their own special day. That idea won the Direct Grand Prix. 

And now you’ve got Chipotle, whose portrayal of sustainable farming tapped into the emotion of consumers, sticking a lump in the throat and generating a hell of a lot of goodwill. 

While times are tight for all of us, it’s clear that consumers have still held on to a sense of perspective. Instead of simply requiring the best deal, they now want to know that the companies they buy from are looking out for others too. 

Which is why these emotional campaigns, which generate a much-needed bit of warmth and goodwill, are the ones that have gone down so well.


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