Advertising is meant to encourage people to buy certain products - but every once in a while it can be used as a tool to inspire social change.
At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, many of the top winners championed causes beyond selling items. The annual advertising event - which was held in Cannes, France from June 17 - 21 - celebrates the top marketing work of the year.
As customers grow more socially conscious, many brands have also taken stances on political topics. The festival itself is changing: 48 percent of the jurors were women, the highest number of female participants in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Here are some notable Grand Prix winners:
“Dream Crazy” - Nike
Colin Kaepernick may have seemed like a controversial spokesperson, given today’s political climate. However, Nike decided to back the athlete and feature him prominently in a campaign about standing up for what you believe in.
Despite some backlash - including a rebuke from President Donald Trump - the campaign paid off for the activewear giant. Nike sales increased 38 percent shortly after the campaign began according to Edison Trends, a notable increase from 17 percent during the same time period the year prior.
“The Tampon Book” - The Female Company
In order to protest high tax rates on what is a necessary product for more than half the population, organic sanitary product company The Female Company created a book that housed 15 tampons and sold it for a lower tax rate. Books are taxed at 7 percent in Germany, while tampons are taxed at 19 percent.
The stunt not only pointed out the absurdity of the rule. It inspired a Change.org petition with more than 175,000 signatures calling on German lawmakers to do something about it.
“Go Back to Africa” - Black & Abroad
Most of the time when the phrase “go back to Africa” is posted online, it’s meant in a derogatory way. The phrase is used over 4,500 times a month online, per NetBase.
However, travel company Black & Abroad decided to put a positive spin on it and highlight the beauty and opportunity on the continent. Not only did it feature Africa’s diverse landscapes and wildlife but its culinary and artistic experiences as well. The ads were especially targeted towards African American tourists, many of whom are ignored by the traditional travel industry according to Black & Abroad.
“The E.V.A. Initiative” - Volvo
The auto safety industry overwhelmingly uses male crash test dummies, which puts women at a higher risk of injury and death in case of a car accident. Volvo’s accident research team collected more than 40 years of real-world data on both genders to provide a more accurate picture of how to protect drivers and passengers. What’s more, the company made it available for competitors to download and use, ensuring safety for all.
“5B” Johnson & Johnson
The documentary “5B” highlights the work of nurses at San Francisco General Hospital who created a special ward for AIDS victims in the 1980s at a time when everyone shunned these patients. The film, which currently holds a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, may not be a traditional advertising campaign. However for Johnson & Johnson which funded the film, it highlights an important health issue and a tale of compassion which is still relevant today.