Aidan Sparrowhawk, Head of Advertising Products

    Advertising can be a force for good in the world. If you doubt that, look at some of the campaigns that have just won awards at the recent Cannes Lions festival:

    And of course not forgetting last year’s #likeagirl campaign for Always, which made a major impact around the world after winning its Cannes Lion.

    As you may have guessed, we’ve just come back from several days in the south of France seeing what's new in the advertising industry and learning more about the role cinema can play in being an extra effective advertising medium for good causes.


    View of Cannes Cannes by day; the Palais de Festivals and La Croisette in all their glory


    Advertising legend Sir John Hegarty said of cinema advertising that ‘a big idea needs a big screen’ and recently cinema, led by global cinema advertising association SAWA, has been getting involved in some of the biggest ideas.

    A big idea needs a big screen

    Last year one of the largest advertising campaigns for a good cause was for the Global Goals, the UN’s goals for sustainable development. The campaign organisers launched Project Everyone, a campaign to tell as many people about the goals as possible, and chose cinema as one of the key media to convey the message. The ‘we have a plan’ ad was the first ever global cinema ad, playing on screens around the world. The campaign reached a massive 3 billion people in the 7 days after it was released, and cinema was particularly effective in driving awareness.

    Research by Nielsen showed awareness of the global goals was 178% higher among cinema audiences, and 1 in 3 adults who saw the campaign in cinema were able to recall it one week later. This same research also showed the power of cinema to reach the young, with nearly 2/3 of those that could recall the campaign in age range 18-34.

    This year in Cannes, SAWA held a seminar entitled ‘The Power of Cinema to Drive Cultural Change’, which saw the launch of Project Everyone’s new advert. The remake of the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ video is designed to further drive awareness of the UN’s global goals, igniting a campaign to encourage mass support for the rights of girls and women. The advert will play in cinemas later this year, and has already been released online where it’s got a huge amount of attention (check out The Global Goals Twitter account and the #WhatIReallyReallyWant hashtag).


    Cannes Lions Seminar The SAWA seminar ‘Power of Cinema to Drive Cultural Change’ with panel Sir John Hegarty (advertising legend and BBH founder), Steve Golin (producer of Spotlight), Lawrence Bender (producer of Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’) and Claudia Gonzalez (Chief of Public Advocacy at UNICEF), compered by Jason Solomons (a leading UK film critic)


    Cinema is one of the most effective forms of advertising there is. It’s 8 times more effective at making a brand stand out than TV, and cinema audiences are 4 times more likely to be emotionally engaged than a TV audience. Where else do you get to watch content on a giant screen with the lights down, superb surround sound, and an audience who aren’t going to click to the next webpage or change the channel?

    As Sir John Hegarty says, (and who are we to argue with one of adland’s most iconic figures) “We [marketers] forget how powerful cinema is as a means of capturing the zeitgeist… Cinema is a great place to tell a story and get undivided attention.”

    As we saw in Cannes, advertising continues to drive positive outcomes for society. And cinema more than plays its part in making these campaigns effective, as the phenomenal results from Project Everyone showed. Cinema as the ultimate force for good? What do you think? Leave us a comment below.


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