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'Nothing Beats a Londoner' redefined social media at Cannes Lions

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USUALLY when you try something for the first time, there’s a blueprint to work from; a past precedent, background or experience to guide you along the way.

We the jury of the inaugural Social & Influence category at Cannes Lions had no such luck. It was all new. The work was so variegated; the use of medium and channel manifold, the interpretations of creative excellence diverse. It was an opportunity for the industry to lay its cards on the table, and it did so with a flourish.

After keeping everything under wraps, it was a relief to finally announce the winners to the world. Wieden+Kennedy and Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner was an unparalleled submission – truly incontestable – and couldn’t deserve the Grand Prix more.

The primary creative – a largely single-shot video designed for social – traverses London’s colourful socioeconomic disparity through the lens of sport. It was worthy of accolade. But social video alone was rarely enough to take home a prize. The use of targeting through a mass-coordination of grassroots influencers clinched it for us. The campaign harnessed laser-focused targeting across multiple formats, telling stories through Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Each message was relevant and representative of a specific borough and demographic. Marketing of old is little but pushing a message. When executed well, the powerful combination of social media and influencer marketing allows brands to join the conversation at the ground level.

The extent of success in Social & Influence as a medium derives from channelling a confluence of technology and creativity. The two are not mutually exclusive. The channels utilised far exceeded expectations – beyond Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – and into using the social aspects of platforms as disparate as Uber, Tinder and gaming consoles to cross-promote causes, products and brands.

One such example came via Ogilvy on behalf of Greenpeace. They recreated the Białowieża Forest, located in Poland and Belarus, in a Minecraft environment. Influencers explored the map, streaming it to their fans. On the day of the campaign launch, though, Greenpeace chopped down every tree bar one as a comment on, and stand against, deforestation. It was a remarkably niche way of engaging young people in alternative environments, and worthy of gold.

The ambition and nous of these campaigns are extraordinary; the bar has been set sky-high. Much has been said about the validity of social media as a creative medium. Likewise, the interpretation of what an influencer is and does has, in the past, suffered from a fear of the new. But following last week in Cannes, it’s clear the medium is here to stay. This is what creativity is all about. We’ve crossed the proving ground. Social media has been redefined.

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