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Why Dove’s anti-TikTok filter #TurnYourBack won the Media Lions Grand Prix

Why Dove’s anti-TikTok filter #TurnYourBack won the Media Lions Grand Prix

In a frank press conference at Cannes Lions, Jury chair and GroupM CEO Christian Juhl sharply criticised media agencies for lower quality awards entries at Cannes.

This year’s Media Lions winners at Cannes made for a surprisingly strong showing from traditional channels, the judges revealed, as advertisers grapple with a “changing environment” around digital.

The Grand Prix and Gold Lion winner, Dove’s #TurnYourBack, was a huge favourite among this year’s judges, with jury chair Christian Juhl (GroupM’s global CEO) remarking that this campaign was one of two entries that “everyone wanted to talk about”.

Created by WPP sister agencies Ogilvy and David (Madrid), #TurnYourBack was created in response to the Bold Glamour filter on social media, with an influencer-led effort to address the psychological impact on girls’ and women’s confidence that invited women everywhere to fight the filter by not showing their faces.

Juhl, who had to recuse himself from judging #TurnYourBack as a WPP employee, told a press conference in Cannes today that the work had a “huge emotional component”, was an authentic message for the Unilever cleansing brand, and featured a plethora of media channels.

“It connects with you,” Juhl said. “We’re all pretty aware right now of what’s happening in social media, the potential damage to society, the risks to you.”

Jurors: Isabel Massey (Diageo); Dozie Akafor (MD, PHD Nigeria) and Juhl.

Celebrities such as Gabrielle Union and social media influencers drove support for the campaign by encouraging people to take images and video of themselves turning their back, in a critique of a TikTok filter which is particularly effective at beautifying the user’s facial imperfections. Daniel Fisher, Ogilvy’s global executive creative director, alleged that children and teenagers being subjected to “the constant exposure of toxic beauty content online is having a heart-breaking impact on [their] mental and physical well-being”.

Juhl added: “It’s across print, it’s across digital, it’s on television and they got the red carpet involved where celebrities [were] coming in and turning their back and it became a moment.”

Fellow juror Isabel Massey, global head of media and content transformation at spirits giant Diageo, noted she was “pleasantly surprised” by the amount of entries submitted for Media Lions for “traditional” media channels such as ads for linear TV, radio, outdoor and print.

However, a corresponding lack of entries for digital media-focused work is being driven by advertisers having to grapple with privacy laws and a “changing environment around digital”. She had expected a “tremendous” amount of digital focus on integration around digital channels, or use of data and personalization within digital.

Speculating as to why this didn’t happen, Massey said: “Maybe some people are nervous about entries that are about making as big an impact as you need to for [digital campaigns]. I’d really encourage everyone to spend some time on this area or work out your point of view, to work out how can we be equally as creative in digital.”

This year’s Media Lions introduced a first: a subcategory that only media agencies could enter. Juhl, whose GroupM comprises the media agencies Mindshare, EssenceMediacom, and Wavemaker, was particularly critical of the award entries.

“It was the hardest section to actually find good work in,” Juhl said. “It’s not because the work is not good. We do not create great submissions. The [entries] that have the really great music, and the great fade ends and all the beautiful work… that’s all from the creative agencies. So we need to learn something from the creative agencies on how to submit awards.”

The Media Lions celebrate the context of creativity in advertising. Entrants are told they need to “demonstrate an inspiring and innovative implementation of media ideas; work which is enhanced and amplified by a game-changing channel strategy that takes consumers on new journeys and unlocks new experiences.”

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Danny Donovan, CEO, Build, on 23 Jun 2023
““The entries that have all the great music, the great fade ends and all the beautiful work…that’s all from the creative agencies” Firstly that’s not really a surprise, as it’s what they do for a living. More importantly is this what the Cannes lions has descended to now. Who can make the best entry film!?”

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