Each year, the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity recognizes some of the best and most impactful PR campaigns that year. The entries tend to run the gamut in public relations, from fun interactions to creative engagement, to artful apologies, and recently recognized campaigns included all of the above.
A GOLDEN FLIP
McDonald’s debuted a new look in celebration of International Women’s Day when the company “flipped” its iconic Golden Arches logo, turning the internationally-known “M” into a stylized “W” in honor of women. And that was just the beginning…
Once McDonald’s had the world’s attention, the company connected that image with a real-life story of a brand-connected woman building generational success. This story connected well with McDonald’s intended audience, creating massive engagement in many sectors. In fact, the company was the most-searched brand on March 8.
Some have wondered what this PR campaign did to boost sales, but that was really not the intention. This campaign was all about creating positive emotional connections and appreciation. Critics tried to shift the conversation to complaints about workplace conditions and pay, but the goodwill created by the campaign drowned out these narratives.
GREENPEACE BRINGS NEW VOICES INTO A CONVERSATION
In Dr. Seuss’ famous story, the Lorax, the furry, orange title character “speaks for the trees,” countering industries that are thoughtlessly chopping down all the trees around. Greenpeace borrowed some of the vibe of the Lorax in its campaign to save the Bialowieza Forest in Poland.
Working with Ogilvy, Greenpeace’s PR team leveraged the popular online video game Minecraft to combat wholesale logging in the primeval forest. The goal of the campaign was to begin a conversation that many on both sides of Poland’s political spectrum were not having.
Connecting with the hundreds of thousands of Minecraft players in Poland, as well as their friends, Greenpeace was able to encourage them to sign a petition to increase the protected areas of the park.
When it was reported that KFC restaurants in the United Kingdom were running out of chicken, outraged – and hungry – Brits took to social media to loudly complain. Stories of shuttered restaurants and managers with no idea when they might get more food flooded the news.
KFC was faced with a massive, international embarrassment that was trending quickly toward a PR crisis. Yet the company was able to retake control of the narrative with a single, self-deprecating, and endearingly cheeky advert.
By switching around the letters in their logo, KFC expressed the sentiment thousands of British chicken lovers, not to mention countless KFC executives, felt in that moment. And, once they had the world’s attention, KFC offered a clear and unwavering apology, as well as a promise to make it right as soon as possible. Diners went from angry to amused, and upset turned to empathy for the embarrassed brand.