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Alcohol brands on creativity

A commentary on alcohol brands in Cannes

created on Wednesday 3 May 2017

Alcohol is a big thing in Cannes. Rosé is quaffed on the Croisette, festival delegates can enjoy Corona beers at sunset on the Connections Beach and there's no end to the champagne at the official Galas. 

But beyond the celebration angle, alcohol brands are serious about Cannes. A mixture of major global brands and local independent firms have all enjoyed Lion-winning success, and there's much to learn from some of the stories they have to tell. 

Alcohol brands make for great collaborators - and are often connected to sporting or music events. Restrictions on alcohol advertising mean that brands have to get creative to get their message across. 

The global brands are experts , at taking big global ideas which are then brought to life in local markets with neat twists and added nuances to help them connect with local consumers, and anyone facing the same challenge should check out the Cannes Lions Archive for talks from Diageo's Syl Saller. Or, if you're interested in how a design-led approach can lead to better and more effective creativity, we can recommend Heineken's 'Thirst for Creativity' talk from 2015 (we've also included a clip below).

The CMO on the global idea

CMO of Diageo, Syl Saller, spoke to  Cannes Lions TV about the risks of compromising to meet everyone's desires and giving global ideas a local twist. 

How alcohol brands perform in the Global Creativity Report

When it comes to alcohol brands in the global creativity report, Heineken is the one to beat. The brewer has been at the top of the table since 2013, thanks to its global portfolio of brands. Its Lions come from across the range of creative disciplines, from the more traditional Lions like Radio and Film, right up to the game-changing Titanium Lion. It has appeared in the top 20 clients overall, each year since the report was compiled in 2011. 

From its first win in 1992, Heineken's 117 Lions have gone to 13 countries. To date as a parent brand, Heineken have taken home 1 Titanium, 2 Grands Prix, 28 Gold, 35 Silver and 45 Bronze Lions. 

It's next competitor in terms of rankings is Diageo, which topped the alcohol brands in 2012, and then trailed in second place until last year where it dropped to fourth behind AB-Inbev and Hennessy, which enjoyed considerable Gold Lion success with 'The Piccards' from Droga 5. 

When Heineken was Creative Marketer of the Year

Heineken was the 2015 Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes Lions 2015. In this film, we spoke to Gianluca Di Tondo, its Senior Brand Director, and Executive Director for Global Marketing, Soren Hagh, about creativity at the organisation.

When alcohol brands do good

(Pictured: Gareth Thomas in 'Never Alone' by Guinness)

In 2016, the first alcohol brand won an Innovation Lion. Saltwater Brewery is a small craft beer brand in Florida, which developed edible packaging from the waste by-products of the brewing process to help combat plastic pollution in the ocean. 

The same year also saw Diageo become the first alcohol brand to win a Glass Lion, for its work with Guinness around homophobia in rugby and football. 'Never Alone' featured openly-gay rugby captain and covered the story of his coming-out in film which challenged stereotypes about masculinity and challenged homophobia in sport. 

How beer brands tell stories

This talk was a chance to learn from the design and innovation culture at the core of Heineken, balancing authenticity and progress to create a global icon. Billed as being essential for brand builders, designers and beer lovers, this talked featured historic examples, crowd-sourced future visions and the unique Heineken equivalent of the ‘concept car’ or haute couture fashion show. 


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