Cannes and Greenpeace; not normally two things you'd link together. This year, however, Greenpeace made its presence known as the Southern French town glitzed and glamoured its way through summer film and media festivals.
Greenpeace wasn't there to rappel down the side of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, or with a bit of sleight-of-hand, switch the Palme d'Or with our own Public Eye Award. In fact, physically, we weren't there at all. We did, however, manage to stake our claim with some creative wins.
The Cannes Lions Award, as the site says, sets the benchmark for "excellence in creative communications" on a global scale. Following closely on the heels of the famous film festival in May, it looks at more than 34,000 entries from the creative industry submitted to several different categories; radio, web, illustration, etc.
This year, the winner of the Bronze Cyber Lion for Charities, Public Health & Safety and Public Awareness Messages, was Greenpeace who collaborated with Happy Monday to make a site which made all our jaws collectively drop: intothearctic.gp.
About winning the award, Christian Uhlenfeldt, Lead Creative, Greenpeace Nordic said, "We're thrilled about the reception and recognition the site has received, both from the public and industry professionals. With last nights' award, and the publicity it generates, we hope that even more people will join the growing movement and learn about what's happening in the Arctic right now and the threats the region faces."
While the Greenpeace office in Denmark enjoys this win, in a very different part of the world another regional office has reason to celebrate.
The Toxic Tour Travel Agency campaign, launched last year by Greenpeace Mexico, just learned they have picked up two awards at the Lions. In the category of Promo in Activation, alongside Circus DF, they received a bronze, and in the category entitled Environmental PR, they received the highest honour: gold.
Toxic Water Campaigner, Pierre Terras, was head of toxic water in Greenpeace Mexico when the campaign was launched. Although happy about the awards, he warns about continued threats to water: "With Toxic Tour Travel Agency we managed to create awareness about the terrible situation of water pollution in Mexico. This gold medal is a great reward for our creative work in Mexico but it has some bitter taste as ongoing toxic industrial discharges are still threatening the communities and the water resources in the global south."
Doubtless, in the face of the continued grossly irresponsible treatment of the environment — the souring of the fresh waters in the global South, and the increasingly exploited wilderness of the arctic North, which these campaigns address — a reality check is in order. But this doesn't change the fact that, for Greenpeace to be recognised in a forum not usually associated with environmental organisations, is a very respectable feat.
And we have managed to show up on the Cannes leaderboard time and time again.
Last year, Greenpeace, with the help of DDB Paris, won the Silver Cyber Lion and the Bronze PR Lion for the A New Warrior site, as well as a number of Bronze Radio Lions. In 2011 it was the Silver Lion for Illustration. In 2009, a single image of a boomerang earned an Outdoor Gold and a Press Bronze. In fact, according to Advertolog, Greenpeace has been earning accolades in a wide variety of disciplines, across a broad number of issue areas, since before 1987 in Cannes.
The winner in 1987?
A stark, timeless PSA directed by David Bailey about innocent victims of nuclear power.
In the meantime, looking towards the future, the minds at Greenpeace will continue to strive to find new, creative and impactful ways to get the message across. Winning awards are great recognition, but the goal will always be to change people's lives. And like winning awards at Cannes, we can't do it on our own.
Arin de Hoog is a Media Relations Specialist at Greenpeace International