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European Excellence Awards 2016: Demonstrating the Change & Transformation of PR Industry

Thu, 12/22/2016

By Pascal Beucler , SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, MSLGROUP

A happy Juror for the eighth year in a row at the European Excellence Awards in Berlin, held on December 7th and 8th, I enjoyed again with this millésime reviewing la crème de la crème of the best projects in Europe: lots of great ideas here, solidly grounded into accurate insights and foresights, creatively executed and delivering on tangible results, whether on the Consumer or on the Corporate side of our business.


But I was particularly impressed to see how fast the three major trends that were just emerging one or two years ago had become massive, and in fact mainstream realities:

  1. The growing role of immersive technologies , which are used in very diverse categories – including Employee Engagement: Experiential PR have a bright future in our industry.
  2. The spread of crowdsourcing, co-creation, User Generated Content , in very many manners and forms: sort of “Native PR”, if you will, which impacts our methods and even our working habits and organization.
  3. The quick rise of “data-driven PR” , which is bringing to our industry the scientific credibility it needs, in times where each and every investment is cautiously weighted by our clients.

The views here expressed are mine, and don’t engage my fellow Jurors.

Virtual reality, real emotions and results:

The new powers of immersive technologies.

Technology & Consumer Electronics: “ Beat the Street ” by Samsung Netherlands and Veilig Verkeer Nederland – Cheil Amsterdam and Hvd

A large number of children are involved in road accidents, mainly due to the their lack of experience on the road. To address this problem, Samsung and the Dutch Traffic Safety Association (VVN) developed the Gear VR game ‘Beat The Street’, in which young people experience dangerous traffic situations that are very true to life.

Chemicals & Industrials: A-ha eternalized by Hydro in Virtual Reality by Burson-Marsteller Oslo

A new brand strategy for aluminium-company Hydro, building on the concept that the metal can have eternal life. Partnering with the “eternal” pop-band a-Ha helped the company reach a new audience. And it was then decided to eternalize them in virtual reality. The response from the Norwegian target group was massive.

Telecommunications: Face Your Fear by Samsung and Wenderfalck

By using the power of Virtual Reality, Samsung managed to create an immersive VR app that helped people overcome their fear of spiders. The VR app was based on research and psychology: the more you are confronted with what scares you, even virtually, the better you get used to manage your phobias. And it worked: download of the app increased by 50%.

Big Data informing everything, strategies, creations and storytelling:

The Art & Science of PR (People Relations) in The Conversation Age.

Food & Beverage: Love at First Taste by Unilever/Knorr #CoupdeFood and Edelman, Mullen Lowe, Phd Media Planning, Mindshare Media Buying and Joule

A key insight and a bunch of data: Knorr set out to drive reappraisal with Millennials by tapping into our shared passion for food & cooking. Research showed flavour was key in relationship compatibility: so the idea was to set up blind dates matched entirely by flavour, to film the results & to create an online Flavour Profiler to help viewers find & share their profile. If this is not People Relations, what is it? And again, it worked, with a global conversation rich of over 2B imps & 108M views.

Finance: The Next Rembrandt by ING and JWT

Already widely awarded in Cannes and in other festivals, The Next Rembrandt is a 3D printed painting based on Rembrandt’s artwork. The project brings together the innovative character of ING with one of the most important sponsorships: Dutch art and culture. Beyond the demonstration of the amazing power of Big Data, it’s also a clever and cheaper way to restore some of the artist’s actual masterpieces.

Crowdsourcing and User Generated Content:

When People’s Insights generate effective and successful “People’s Inside” campaigns and even DIY retail concepts.

Jury’s Excellence Award for the Best Campaign: Keys of Hope by Caritas international / Deutscher Caritasverband – Ketchum Pleon and BBDO

It’s all based upon a key insight: refugees leave everything behind, except their house key. It reminds them of what they used to have and what they hope to achieve again. The idea of the campaign was to tell 10 stories behind 10 keys, to give refugees a voice – their voice – the one they just don’t have in the media. Thus, regular keys influenced political debates, as the anonymous crowd of refugees became human destinies again who need our solidarity. And the result was a significant change of the public perspective and mindset in Germany.

Fashion & Beauty: Fretex Gründer Challenge by Fretex Norge and PR-operatørene

What do you do when your “old” brand is not attractive to the younger generation? Change it, perhaps : but it’s costly, and your regular customers may not like it. Revamp it? But not only by yourself. The second-hand chain Fretex wanted to attract the ones who set the fashion standards. Students were targeted in order to help change the perceptions of young people. Students from a range of Norwegian universities were challenged to develop their own retail concept in order to draw attention among others and inspire new Fretex stores, reaching over 1.5 million people.

Travel & Tourism: The Swedish Number by Swedish Tourist Association and Cohn & Wolfe and INGO Stockholm

Another much-celebrated project this year, and rightly so! The Swedish Tourist Association, in honor of the 250th anniversary of the country abolishing censorship, created a phone number that let people from anywhere in the world instantly connect with “a random Swede, somewhere in Sweden”: fans as well as detractors, ordinary folks but also the Prime minister. Genuinely Swedish indeed! The campaign captured global attention, generating nearly 180,000 calls from all around the world.

Many more examples of bright, creative, effective PR strategies and creations were awarded in Berlin, showing that our industry is in a very good shape, and actually very central in the new equation for value creation: (IQ, EQ + TQ)BQ, which means that our future clearly is where Intelligence, Emotion & Tech meet, and that it has to be “Bloody Quick”, as speed is so much of the essence these days.

Pascal Pascal 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 the MD. In 1994 he was promoted to Partner at Publicis Consultants, and then to General Manager of Carré Noir in 2001. Pascal is an Associate Professor at CELSA (Paris IV Sorbonne) and a visiting professor at HEC. In 2005 Pascal was named VP of Publicis Consultants | Worldwide, in charge of Brand Strategy and development of its international network. @pbeucler |

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