McCann Melbourne’s ‘Dumb Ways To Die’ smashes PR companies at Cannes and scoops Direct GP too

Metro Trains’ Dumb Ways To Die from McCann Melbourne, everybody’s favourite to win the top Film Grand Prix (what the Cannes Lions used to be about) has started the big budget adfest (nearly £19m spent on entries apparently) by winning two unexpected Grand Prix in the Direct and PR categories.

At this rate it could be Cannes’ biggest-ever winner.

Quite how it constitutes what we used to call a direct marketing campaign is known only to the jury although all campaigns these days have sign-up mechanisms via Facebook and the like, so I guess they qualify.

As for PR, that’s a bit more interesting. Here’s what the chairman of the PR jury Ketchum Europe CEO David Gallagher says (Ketchum is a huge PR company): “It wasn’t that long ago when most of our content was centered around a press release and we were pretty happy when a press release was distributed and received and maybe even used by journalists to engage and amplify a message to the public. Those days are behind us. What we need now is content like this, based on real human insight.”

Which makes a bit of a nonsense of an attempt by PR Week and Marlin PR in the UK to prove, via a survey of just 200-odd people (probably in PR) that PR companies can come up with ‘Big Ideas,’ just like ad agencies can. This was prompted by the poor performance of PR agencies in the PR category at Cannes last year. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

As ever with Cannes, it’s daft to draw too many conclusions. There’s nothing wrong with sending out a press release to a few unsympathetic hacks – how else do you communicate with them regularly? Make a brilliant commercial/online film? Every day?

Cannes is about show stoppers, some of them almost entirely bogus, and you can argue that it’s foolish of PR companies to become involved. They’re not ‘creative’ in this sense and they’re never likely to be.

As for Metro Trains (assuming they’re there) and McCann Melbourne – they’d better be prepared to pay a hefty surcharge on their Lions-laden luggage.

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