What we Cannes Learn From Award Shows November 2020

What We Cannes Learn from 2020 Award Shows

Every year, the big agency networks spend a shit-ton of money (very scientific term, I know) on awards entries: Cannes, Clios, The One Show, Webbys…the list goes on. In fact, there are entire teams within some of these networks that are solely dedicated to producing case study reels and boards—not to mention the pro-bono projects that get conceived, funded, and executed with the singular goal of getting on a shortlist (and I say this with authenticity, having been part of the “award show machine” for the first 15-ish years of my career).

In the NPO world, it’s easy to view this kind of activity as gratuitous, self-serving, and a massive waste of time, money, and energy that could be better spent actually doing the work that needs to be done.


Why Marketing Awards Can be Valuable to Nonprofits

HOWEVER…if you look beyond the egotistical underpinnings, there’s actually a LOT we can learn from studying and discussing the work that gets recognized and applauded every year. As nonprofits, we may not always have the same deep pockets or vast resources that big brands and agencies are privy to—but that doesn’t have to stop us from creating work that’s just as innovative and inspiring. One of the greatest commonalities across all award-winning concepts is that they’re built on a solid foundation of human insight, and designed to change behavior or perceptions, not just solve marketing needs. 

As nonprofits, we have the distinct advantage of having direct access to the people and communities who can provide these insights. We know the issue landscapes and challenges inside-and-out, and have strategic plans and Theories of Change outlining what’s needed to actually move the needle. With all of this at our fingertips—plus, of course, a little bit of fearlessness and creativity from a great agency partner—we have unlimited potential to develop ideas, innovations, campaigns, activations, stories, and experiences that not only bring home awards but also bring home the change we’re here to create in the first place.

It’s definitely not easy, but nothing worth pursuing really is. And if anyone knows that firsthand, it’s this incredible NPO community.

Let’s dive into some of the great work that took home awards, and made a tangible impact, in 2019 and 2020.

Check out the full presentation here.


Breakdown of Award Shows:

  1. The One Show Sustainable Development Pencil and Green Pencil
  2. Clios
  3. D&AD
  4. Webbys for Good
  5. Shorty Social Good
  6. Effie Awards
  7. Addy Awards