Newcastle Brown Ale And Fast Horse Win Cannes Lion Award

June 17, 2014

If we were ever forced to rename Fast Horse in honor of another mammal, today we would choose the Lion.

We learned overnight that our favorite client named after a city in northern England, Newcastle Brown Ale, was awarded a Silver Cannes Lion in the PR category for its “If We Made It” campaign. We, along with the client team and our partner agencies — including Droga5 and Starcom MediaVest Group — spent many hectic days and late nights helping make this program a success.

Cannes Lions is the world’s biggest celebration of creativity in communications. “Our Awards,” the organizers say, “champion the best work from the past year, and the Festival’s inspirational learning programme points the way forward.” The awards are doled out annually at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity at The Palais des Festival, in Cannes, France. Simply put, it’s the most prominent and most prestigious award in the advertising industry. (Here is Adweek’s list of U.S. winners in the category.)

As the No Bollocks beer brand, Newcastle delivers a dose of refreshing honesty by calling bollocks on clichéd and often ridiculous marketing tactics. No event is bigger or more gimmicky than the Super Bowl — an occasion during which people actually seek out ads. The goal of the “If We Made It” program was to hijack the conversation and become the most talked-about brand in the Big Game — without actually being part of the Big Game. No small task.

Leading up to the Super Bowl, the brand’s creative agency, Droga5, developed a hypothetical TV spot that Newcastle could have made if they had the money, talent and permission to advertise in the game. The fact there was no actual ad didn’t stop the Newcastle team from hyping up how epic it would have been — “if we made it.”

The content-rich campaign included ad storyboards, real focus group research about the would-have-been epic ad, and videos of behind-the-scenes interviews with celebrities who would have starred in the ad, including Anna Kendrick and Keyshawn Johnson.

We knew the campaign would be well-received by ad and marketing press, but broad exposure was the primary goal. Fast Horse, Newcastle and our partner agencies devised a roll-out strategy designed to take advantage of natural news cycles surrounding the Super Bowl to get the most coverage possible. Our influencer-outreach strategy gave the program a huge head of steam from major media outlets with only teaser content. By the time the celebrity videos hit, the program was well on its way to marketing hall of fame and we continued to fan the flames.

We worked with Kendrick and her publicist (Lisa Perkins of Fifteen Minutes PR) to conduct a high-profile media day and also collaborated with Johnson on a sports radio tour. Additionally, widespread pitching and influencer outreach generated what amounted to an amazing level of buzz around the campaign. “If We Made It” was featured in 615 earned-media placements, covering men’s-interest, sports, humor, entertainment, pop culture, business, marketing and general-interest media outlets.

Kendrick appeared on E!, Conan, Showbiz Tonight and (among many others), and views of her video reached more than 5.2 million (on YouTube alone, with many more on Facebook and other channels). In total, “If We Made It” content was viewed more than 10 million times in just a couple of weeks. Newcastle achieved a 416 percent brand lift at a fraction of what actual Big Game advertisers paid and was a no. 1 trending topic on Facebook two straight days (above the Super Bowl itself). Even better, purchase intent among consumers surged 18 percent in January and February.

Our partnership with Newcastle Brown Ale has been an amazing experience, which makes adding the Cannes Lion to the Fast Horse display case that much sweeter. Congratulations to Newcastle and everyone else involved in this incredible project.