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European Excellence Awards 2015: ‘People Relations’ at its Best

By Pascal Beucler, SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, MSLGROUP & Juror at the European Excellence Awards

The 2015 Millésime of the European Excellence Awards, which were delivered two weeks ago in Stockholm, Sweden, is an excellent one.

Amongst the many submissions that were awarded by our jury, I have selected a few projects which, in my view, reach a high level of strategic and creative thinking: yes, this is what I’d call PR (in the sense of..People Relations) at their best.

As always, this is reflecting my personal views, not necessarily the Jury’s one.

On December 9 and 10 the esteemed EEA jury gathers to examine all cases and decides on those that display true excellence. Source: EEA on Facebook

On December 9 and 10 the esteemed EEA jury gathers to examine all cases and decides on those that display true excellence. Source: EEA on Facebook

1. Leveraging the power of ‘P-Art; (PR & Art)

PR is better than any other discipline, when it comes to establishing creative connections between an organization/a brand and people, using the combined powers of technology, art and experiential marketing, see:

Google Russia & Leo Tolstoy

What a pairing! Together with the great-great-great granddaughter of Leo Tolstoy, Google Russia decided to recreate Tolstoy’s family tradition of reading books aloud… but with 700 readers from 13 different time zones, for a 36-hour reading marathon of Anna Karenina. It helped both transform attitutes towards Google in Russia, and create a spike in Anna Karenina book sales!

KPN & Rembrandt

The Dutch telco KPN, that supports the Rijksmuseum, found a creative way to achieve its ambition to make Art accessible to everyone, everywhere, by creating an online experience: this online ‘Late Rembrandt’ exhibition could hit a record of 563.026 unique visits.

COP21, Sciences Po & Théâtre Les Amandiers

Prior to the Paris COP21 Climate Change conference which took place beginning of December, the reputed Sciences Po university organized a simulation played by 200 students from all over the world, on the stage of the famous Amandiers theater in Paris, in front of 1300 spectators, during three days. The key sequences were filmed. The idea was to give Millennials the opportunity to « #MakeItWork » their way, as it is their planet after all, and their future, which are at stake. The negotiation was sometimes tense, most often joyful, and finally successful, with a series of innovative propositions. The results did actually impact the « real » COP21, where they were presented. Combining Political Sciences and theatrical art proved to be very efficient… In Stockholm, Sciences Po was awarded twice : in the Science & Education category, and for France. Chapeau bas!

2. Turning Big Data into a truly big idea : People Relations (PR) based on People’s insights

We all know that using Big Data is what helps PR strategists generate deeper insights, evolve storytelling tactics, design better engagement programs. The question is: how do you process Big Data, to extract the appropriate value from it, make it visual, crispy and easy to communicate?

From this standpoint, ‘The House of Clicks’, a Big Data experiment showing the future of property development, is a great benchmark.

By analyzing 200 million clicks on Sweden’s most popular property portal, Hemnet, the PR agency – assisted dy data scientists and architects – could transform ones and zeros into brick and mortar. The outstanding result was the co-creation, with 2 million Swedes, of Sweden’s most sought after home, thus dramatizing the potential with Hemnet’s data, and therefore the attractivity and credibility of the company. That’s the future of PR, mixing data, strategic thinking, ideation, creativity, to deliver on everything: reputation, image, awareness, business development. Brilliant.

3. Lighting up the Dark: Experiential PR & Social Amplification

I already mentioned – particularly after the Cannes Lions Festival – that combining Experiential PR and Social Amplification was one of the key trends in our industry.

The Philips’ ‘Light Up the Dark’ Project

This campaign is a great example of this growing phenomenon, how can the brand improve people’s quality of life, which is actually a lot about… quality of light when in Uppsala, Sweden, throughout the long, dark days of winter? By introducing light, where there is none, thus extending by 37% the time children can spend outside, and dramatically impacting their well-being. The development of compelling content about the experiment, and the massive use of Social Media channels generated a high level of engagement. Well done.

Another good example came from Swiss International Airline’s « Attentive Eyes » project. Europeans tend to lose sight of each other, in a context of crisis and disputes. Swiss decided to send out a monumental sign, Attentive Eyes: countless eyes projected onto famous European buildings. People stop, and pause for a moment. They also massively share these powerful, moving, images accross their Social channels. 1 billion impressions generated. Effective!

4. Changing the Perspective: PR & Lateral Thinking

PR is good at helping people take another perspective, see things differently, change their mind. This year’s Real Beauty campaign for Dove, ‘Blind Beauty’, consisted in filming three blind women sharing their perspective on beauty – for obvious reasons a different one. Previous research showed that one out of four women rarely or never feels beautiful.

A fruitful conversation on Dove, beauty and women’s self-esteem could start, from a simple question: what would beauty look like, if you weren’t able to see it?

Yes, in a world where the importance of beauty is communicated to women everyday, one important perspective was lacking, and you had to be blind to see it.

I also loved the remarkable Electrolux ‘World Wide Vac’ project. The big idea came from data again: an average email equals 4 grams of CO2 during its lifetime, and we keep thousands of them in our inbox. So, how do you connect this with the launching of the new Electrolux UltraFlex vacuum cleaner? Well you develop ‘The World Wide Vac’, the first digital vacuum cleaner on Earth. If you connect it to your inbox, and let the advanced algorithm help you clean out digital dust, you’ll help yourself, and the planet. And at the end of the day, the UltraFlex exceeded its sales objectives without any other marketing support. Genius.

5. The Power of Mobilizing People : PR & People Affairs

Don’t drink & Dive by Trygg-Hansa

This campaign was twice awarded, and for very good reasons. More Swedes drowned in 2014 than in any other year in the last decade, most of the victims being men who had consumed too much alcohol. There comes a great idea, with a 39% decrease of the number of drowned men, following the campaign. What else?

The System Man by the Association of Private Care Providers

This is another great example: many Swedes would like to be able to choose their care provider, while very few of them are aware of the fact that their freedom of choice is under threat by political initiatives. This is where creating a perfect antihero, The System Man, can help a lot raising awareness and, at the end, save the sector from damaging regulation. Well thought!

PascalPascal holds BAs in History and Language Sciences, a master’s degree in Linguistics and a post graduate degree in Semio-Linguistics. In 1987 he joined Intelligences, a subsidiary of Publicis, and in 1992 he became Managing Director. In 1994 he was promoted to Partner at Publicis Consultants, and then to General Manager of Carré Noir in 2001. In 2005 Pascal was named VP of Publicis Consultants | Worldwide, in charge of Brand Strategy and development of its international network. Connect with him on Twitter @pbeucler

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