Grey Canada Toronto is bringing home a Gold PR Lion for “Groceries Not Guns” – the first ever awarded to a Canadian agency since the competition was added to the Festival in 2009.
Prior to Grey’s win tonight for client Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Canada had only been awarded one PR Lion — a bronze in 2011 to Lowe Roche for O.B. tampons’ “A Personal Apology.”
Grey was the only Canadian agency to make the PR shortlist this year. The PR competition saw 17 Gold Lions awarded to 16 agencies. The Grand Prix went to MSLGroup New York for “Always #LikeAGirl: Turning an Insult Into a Confidence Movement.”
(While it isn’t considered a win for Canada, Leo Burnett Toronto is named alongside MSL Group New York as an entrant on the submission. In accordance to Festival rules, the points earned for this winning entry will be divided equally between the two agencies.)
Discussing the Grand Prix at a morning press conference, PR jury president Lynne Anne Davis, president and senior partner for Asia Pacific at FleishmanHilard, said the jury worked hard to ensure awarded programs were PR by design.
The jury, she said, was looking for work in which PR was delivered “deliberately and part of the strategic planning process. It was not merely an add on or a consequence.”
When pressed about the role the PR agency played in the Grand Prix-winning campaign, Davis would only say that “it started a lot of conversations and that’s where public relations can play a prominent role in those conversations.” Sebastian Stepak, managing director of MSL Poland and one of the PR judges added that while the original idea may have come from Leo Burnett, MSL oversaw the integration of all of the elements of the campaign and it was entered in the Integrated Campaign Led by PR category.
Interest in the competition has increased significantly the past two years, as have the number of entries from PR agencies. Davis said 50% of this year’s submissions were from PR agencies, compared with 30% in 2014 and 40% the year before that.
Canadian involvement in the PR Lions, however, has never been high, and this year was no exception. This year the competition saw only 19 Canadian entries, down from 28 a year ago. Perhaps Canada’s first Gold PR Lion will encourage more entries into the competition next year.
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