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Cannes 2009: Obama wins at Cannes again

By Prajjal Saha , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 29, 2009
US President Obama's presidential campaign has won the Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix at the International Advertising Awards. This is the first time that the same campaign has won the Grand Prix in both the categories. The biggest proof of the effectiveness of this campaign was that Obama won the General Election by the biggest margin for any Democrat in 60 years

US President Obama's presidential campaign has won the Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix at the International Advertising Awards this year. This is the first time that the same campaign has won the Grand Prix in both the categories.

The Titanium Lions are awarded to ideas that create a movement, and the Integrated Lions are awarded for great ideas that were made better with different touch points. There were about 8 jury members in each of the categories, besides the jury president, David Droga.

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The biggest proof of the effectiveness of this campaign was that Obama won the General Election by the biggest margin for any Democrat in 60 years. This campaign serves as a case-study on how a successfully integrated campaign can mobilise support, influence a population and change the face of the government.

The campaign helped Barack Obama emerge as a presidential candidate and finally become the President of America from a mere senator in three years.

Questions were raised on how this campaign was entered as it was a political campaign without an agency and client.

Phil Thomas, chief executive officer, International Advertising Festival, Cannes, clarified that the work was entered by David Plouffe, chief campaign manager of Barack Obama.

The campaign, Obama for America, began with introducing voters to Obama's biography in two states. Its main targets were the older primary voting faithful first, followed by independent voters and Republican loyals. The campaign put millions of dollars on television, radio, print, online and outdoor advertising to transmit the message of change. The campaign also helped Obama raise funds for the campaign.

Online was an integral part of this campaign. It extensively used an online website, and social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The political party even announced its vice-presidential candidate on Twitter.

David Droga, founder and creative chairperson, Droga5 and president, Titanium and Integrated Lions, describes the campaign as one which had successfully created a brand such as Obama, which was loved the world over.

Prasoon Joshi, executive chairperson, McCann Erickson India, who was also part of the jury, comments on the campaign, saying that Obama was a brand created by the consumer, along with the brand owner.

Edmund Choe, executive creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi Greater China, says, "Obama was contesting an election in America, but he had a fan following even in China. This shows his global reach."

The campaign, being a big budget one, also helped it win the Gran Prix in both the categories.

afaqs! also questioned the jury on whether the same campaign would have been awarded had Obama lost the election. Though there was no straight answer to this, some said that the way the campaign was integrated across media, it had to be considered. Some members of the jury said that he had to win because the campaign was so great. However, a political battle cannot be won just on the basis of a campaign, there are other issues also that come into play.

Later, Droga told afaqs!, "There was a will for a change in America and the campaign played an important role to give a momentum to this will.

The one Indian campaign that went up for discussion by the jury members was the 'Vote Right' campaign for the Association of Democratic Reforms by McCann Erickson India. As per this campaign, information on all candidates was collected from various sources and people could get the information by sending an SMS or through the Internet. There was also a multimedia campaign, including three TV commercials and a series of print advertisements, besides stationed vans at villages which played radio commercials.

Droga expressed his disappointment that it finally could not make it to the nominations, though the campaign was liked in the initial round.

Interestingly, this year, 11 out of 15 entries are from the US. Joshi of McCann says, "In the US, they have already tried and tested the traditional media. This gives them a reason to try out new media and innovate with it. The results can be seen in this category, whereas in India, we still stick to the traditional media very much."